Drought conditions for Maine counties as of Aug. 2. droughtmonitor.unl.edu

REGION — High temperatures and lack of rain are stressing plants and livestock and farmers are feeling the heat in numerous ways.

The state’s Drought Task Force issued its monthly report Thursday, Aug. 4. Nine counties are considered abnormally dry. Since July 26, conditions have improved in northern Franklin County but much of the area is still listed as experiencing moderate drought or being abnormally dry.

Northern Androscoggin County is still abnormally dry. The report indicates a drier than average July has impacted agriculture.

Several local farmers were contacted Monday morning, Aug. 8. Those reached have all seen some affect from the weather.

At Berry Fruit Farm in Livermore, owner Joel Gilbert said he definitely would have seen reductions in yield and crop size if he didn’t irrigate.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” he noted. “Fuel prices are so high. I do have a decent water supply.”


Some thunderstorms lately have helped, Gilbert said. “Without them it would have been really dry.”

Some heat stress has been noted on Gilbert’s apple crop. “Sun scalding is seen on some fruit,” he said. “Plants can get too much sun.

“The apples are looking like there will be a huge crop. There is a good mixture on size.”

Boothby’s Orchard and Farm Winery in Livermore was fortunate to get a few little showers, owner Rob Boothby said. “Two tenths of an inch here, three tenths of an inch there,” he added.

Sweet corn is one of the crops Boothby raises. It is very efficient, catches rain but if it gets to a certain point there is no fixing it, Boothby stated. On the 20 acres of hay raised, Boothby said there is no second crop to mow now.

“If we get rain then some sun, we should be OK,” he noted.


“The apples look fine, are a little small,” Boothby said. “They need more rain to soak in, get to the roots.”

Boothby isn’t able to irrigate. His pump died and an estimate for a new one, which may be smaller than the one he had, is $36,000. Boothby said he mows a lot of lawn – about three acres – so not having to mow as often is making that a lot easier.

“I just hope for rain, hope for the best,” he added.

PerkinPine Farm in Livermore has seen some weather impacts, owner Joshua Perkins said.

“I am definitely providing more cooling,” he said. “A pig doesn’t sweat, needs a mud hole to cover themselves and cool off. I have had to fill the mud hole on a daily basis. A lot of time rain makes its own mud hole. It seems wasteful to use drinking water but they need it.”

One pig is pregnant, and Perkins said he feels bad for her. The cows have shade, are given water daily, he noted.


“I planted the garden the same day I broke my leg,” Perkins said. “I haven’t watered it.”

With the garden not producing, Perkins said he will be hitting up the farmers’ market. “I have got to do my canning,” he added.

The winter feed supply for the cows at Castonguay Ayrshires in Livermore is being severely impacted, owner Mary Castonguay said.

“We are feeding more silage now because the pasture aren’t as good as they normally are,” she said.

The cows are exhibiting a lot of heat stress, even though everything is being done that can be to keep them cool, she noted.

“The last few weeks have been harder than normal,” Castonguay stated. “Milk production is down, in part due to the heat stress.”


The electric bill is higher due to cows drinking more water and more fans being used, Castonguay said. The farm well is maintaining its level, she said and hopes it will continue to do so.

JB Farm in Chesterville is being impacted, owner Tyler Jenness said. “The first hay crop was down, second crop is barely surviving. I am rotating pastures sooner, will probably end up feeding out sooner. I usually do that in November, this year it will be before Farmington Fair.”

Shade and fans are provided for the animals. Jenness said he is watering the garden, has a great water supply that is close.

“It certainly costs more money for watering and running the fans more,” he said.

In Jay a farmer raising Scottish Highland cattle asked that his name not be used.

“They don’t like heat, they do shed off most of their hair in the summertime,” he said. “They are spending more time in the shade, they do acclimate some.”


The hay quality has been impacted, he said. “We had good rains in the spring,” he said. Lack of rain is affecting it now, he added.

MT Farms in Jay noted their second crop is a lot shorter this year, owner Mark Turner said. The pastures are being impacted the most, he said.

“The cows are not getting good feed like they usually do,” he said. “The cattle go out, hang out under the trees instead of eating. They are running out of pasture. I will have to supplement real quick.”

Turner said he hasn’t seen too much reduction in production yet, but it is having some impact.

Rockin’ Sheep Farm in Livermore Falls is seeing even more of an impact. Owner Robin Beck said her sheep won’t eat some weeds in her pasture as they are either poisonous to them or too sharp. She started feeding her sheep late last month, she noted.

Heat and lack of rain are impacting area farmers. At Rockin’ Sheep Farm in Livermore Falls, sheep do not eat some weeds as they are poisonous or too sharp to chew. Submitted photo

“Usually, it’s October,” Beck said. “I’m using up some hay I banked up for this winter which means I’ll run short. I’m lucky, the gentleman I buy hay from is very methodical about his fields and should have some extra if I need it.

“Other hay farmers, I have heard, tried to wait out the high diesel prices and hayed their first crop very late. Sheep won’t eat that, they’ll toss it out and lay on it. Due to the drought, many hay fields won’t have a second crop.

“Between hay, diesel prices, and a worldwide grain shortage (thanks Russia!) meat, eggs, and milk will be more expensive this year. I had to raise my chicken meat prices to help pay for the increase in grain but I’m still losing money.”

Beck is praying for a few days of steady rain.

“I just looked at the radar and all the rain forecasted [for Monday] will head north of our farm,” she said.

When Mainers and tourists buy from local farms it helps not only those farms but other area businesses as well, Beck stated.

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