hot, dry summer that broke weather records may be just a memory, but more than half of Maine is still in moderate, severe or extreme drought, according to the map released Thursday by the United States Drought Monitor.
That means that as farmers and others around the state prepare for winter, many are still hoping for more rain and snow to fall to recharge irrigation ponds, irrigate tree roots and otherwise get Maine in a better position for next year.
For Ellen McAdam of McDougal Orchards in Springvale, the drought took a visible toll on the apple crop. The orchard, located in York County, is in the only part of the state still considered to be in extreme drought. Earlier this fall, customers seeking a pandemic-safe activity came in droves to pick their own apples. But because of the drought, the apples on trees that couldn’t be irrigated were much smaller than normal.
“There’s a lot of things we’d like to put behind us from this year,” she said Friday. “It does worry me. I’m hoping that over the winter we’ll get enough snow to cover the tree roots, and hoping for a relatively wet spring.”
That hope is echoed by experts such as Renae Moran, a tree fruit specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. She said she fears the true toll of the drought won’t be known for some time, in part because trees already have formed the flowers that will bud out in the spring.
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