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Driest May weather on record: Farmers find creative ways to protect crops

Driest May weather on record: Farmers find creative ways protecting crops
Driest May weather on record: Farmers find creative ways protecting crops 02:43

CHERRY HILL N.J. (CBS) -- English peas, radishes, three different types of zucchinis, and fresh broccoli are all part of Tuesday morning's harvest at Springdale Farm Market in Cherry Hill. It all looks, smells and tastes great but this year in particular has been a challenge for farmers like Clayton Jarvis.

"Heat and dryness like this, it's a never-ending battle to keep everything watered, so everything stays healthy," Jarvis said.

This third-generation farmer says he and his crew are adapting to this dry stretch well.


"This weather keeps up, it's going to be difficult to maintain that moisture in the soil, keep crops happy," Jarvis said.

Keep in mind, this hasn't just been a dry May, but the driest May on record.


The Philadelphia area received less than a quarter of an inch of rain all month. On average, we should be finishing up with a little over three inches.

"With a spring like this year, we're watering every day, whereas in the past it may be only two to three times a week," 
Jarvis said.

For farmer Jarvis, he says that can get quite expensive.

"We never wanna try to pass any of that cost on if we can help it, to our consumers, our customers, our friends," Jarvis said. "We wanna keep everyone happy but there's certainly an occurred expense that comes with all the irrigating we have to do."

It only actually rained four times this past month with the wettest day on the 20th and even that was barely anything significant.


But even if we get the much-needed moisture next month, farmers like Jarvis are already thinking long-term.

"Climate change is a topic of concern, it means hotter, dryer summers, it means more extreme weather patterns that we've had," Jarvis said.

He and others in the area are changing the way they've traditionally farmed to make sure the harvest, which includes those beloved Jersey tomatoes and sweet corn we all love, stays bountiful and tasty in the future.

"From this point forward, that's kind of the name of the game, adaptability," Jarvis said. "Everybody has to come up with ways to figure out how we're going to keep farming with climate change."

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