Let it rain: Impact of dry spell on brush fire and crops

by beth on July 29, 2016

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Above: You may be bummed by today’s forecast for rain. But, despite the lush look of vegetation above, firefighters and farmers at Chestnut Hill Farm are likely disappointed that it won’t be more. (image left from Facebook, right from farm blog)

Yesterday, I shared that Southborough Firefighters were again battling a brush fire behind Pinecone Lane. Southborough Wicked Local spoke to firefighters and revealed that it was a re-spark of a fire from a week ago. It was proving to be stubborn. The underlying message was that firefighters need today’s forecast rain.

Crews worked for hours put out a brush fire north of Pinecone Lane that rekindled almost a week after it started.

The fire scorched about two acres of land adjacent to the Sudbury Reservoir. On Thursday morning, smoke and small pockets of flame rose from peat moss and downed trees.

Southborough Lt. Christian Dano said a stiff breeze could easily stoke the brush fire, making it spread, but by late Thursday afternoon the fire presented no danger to nearby houses. . .

At the command center of the Southborough effort, Dano said that, without some substantial rain, crews will likely tend to the brush fire for days.

“It gets into the peat moss, it burns underground,” he said. “Really all we can do is hope for rain.” (read more)

They aren’t the only ones effected by the dry conditions. Chestnut Hill Farm’s blog has revealed that the heat waves have made growing this year’s expanded crops a challenge. And last week’s storm didn’t help. It “just danced around the farm”. (Though, that’s probably better than having torn through it!) 

On Monday, Farm Manager Desiree Robertson-DuBois posted:

The heat continues. I can’t remember a summer this hot for this long barring one 14 years ago when I was farming in Belchertown. . .

I don’t like seeing wilting plants in the fields or feeling the dirt dry under my hands when I harvest potatoes six inches down. We’ve had just enough rain to keep most of our harvest alive, but only just and we are starting to feel worry in our gut that we won’t be able to get enough water to everything and it is only July barely kissing August.

The dry conditions have been challenging given the farm’s ambitious growth this summer. In late June she shared:

We are planning for the new well to help with our water needs, but we are still looking at more than a month of trying to water 12 acres with only 8 gals per minute (we need about 120). So we are getting creative and doing a lot of rain-dancing. We are putting off some direct seedings, such as more green beans and beets and carrots that really need to be continuously watered throughout germination. Mostly we are hoping for rain.

Unfortunately, National Weather Service is predicting less than a tenth of an inch of rain in town for today. Let’s hope for more.

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