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Dismal weather takes toll on local farmers, customers

May 21, 2011

Photo By Kathleen McKiernan

Jack Sumner and his sister Martha Bradley of Highland Farm in South Kingstown working in the greenhouse on another rainy day in May.

SOUTH KINGSTOWN – Usually April showers bring May flowers, but this year rain came in May, delaying the gardening season and putting a damper on local garden farmers.

“There’s been nine days of a measurable amount of precipitation thus far. Even though there was a rain deficit, the rain is more steady than normal,” Bill Simpson, spokesperson for the National Weather Service in Taunton said.

Simpson said the daytime high temperature in May is not as warm as usual and may cause farming to lag behind. The normal high temperature in May is in the upper 60s, but Simpson said the temperature has been six to eight degrees cooler than the normal high for May. The lack of sunshine may also affect farming and growing as well.

“When you get days like this, the weather affects it because people don’t want to go out in the yard and when they don’t want to go out in the yard, they don’t buy plants. It’s been a cold wet spring,” Jack Sumner, co-owner of Highland Farms on Old Tower Hill Road said on a dreary Wednesday afternoon.

Sumner said the weather is a big factor in his flower garden farm and it can turn either way.

“This whole business is based on weather. This year, it’s been hot and dry and now all of a sudden we get rain. We’ve had five to six days of crappy weather,” Sumner said. “[Sales] have been decent, but we’re in this week of bad weather. Things seemed to slow.”

With much farming relying on diesel fuel for tractors and greenhouses, Sumner said his industry is also negatively impacted by the price of fuel.

For more information pick up a copy of The Narragansett Times.

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