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In case you haven’t heard about it, there have been issues with droughts in Massachusetts. Because of the extreme nature of the droughts, Thanksgiving may be affected in ways that most people don’t realize.

The heat wave and drought in Massachusetts are destroying the crop of cranberries. Ask anyone and they will tell you that cranberries are a very important part of our Thanksgiving celebration. With those crops being ruined, it seems like we may have fewer cranberries on the table.

Photo: flickr/Krista

According to Grist, there are 14 counties in Massachusetts and 10 of them have been under extreme drought conditions. In the other four counties, it was a little less but they were still called severe.

Grist further reports that at the Woodwell Climate Research Center in Massachusetts, a scientist, Zachary Zobel, said that this predicament is associated with climate change in harvest is going to be affected.

He went on to say: “The boom or bust scenario that climate change presents when it comes to precipitation events – the boom being the large precipitation event, the bust being long dry spells – that’s not a good thing.”

Photo: flickr/U.S. Department of Agriculture

Cranberries are relatively delicate, so without enough water and with the presence of fungus (yes, there is a fungus issue), the berries will not be harvested.

The fields where cranberries are grown are flooded with fresh water. As the winters get colder, the water protects the crops from freezing. After the spring thaw, cranberries are left to flourish as the fields are drained. This year, it didn’t happen that way because of the dry conditions.

One of the residents in the area, Greenwood Hartley III grows those berries. He recently spoke with Sippican Week, saying: “We’ve had so much dry heat that people’s water is getting all used up. It’s going to be a difficult harvest for a lot of people. We’re getting these extreme weather conditions as the weather is changing where it’s hotter than usual or rainier than usual.”

Photo: flickr/Ron Amundson

He went on to say how everybody is struggling but it’s particularly difficult on the farmer. Farmers are not yet ready to harvest the crops. A number of months will pass before the crops have to be harvested and if it rains, that will be good news.

According to Salon, an executive director for Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association, Brian Wick, said that the board keeps our eyes open on how much rainfall we get over the coming weeks. He also spoke about the need for farmers to adapt to difficult conditions.

He summed things up by saying: “You’re not going to have that nice, consistent growing season, it just seems to be one extreme or another.”

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