UMaine staff cited in articles about drought

University of Maine staff members Mark Hutton, Sean Birkel and John Rebar were cited in Portland Press Herald and Bangor Daily News articles about the impact of the drought in southern Maine.

The Portland Press Herald piece indicated some fruits and vegetables — including tomatoes and watermelon — are faring well during the drought, but that others — including broccoli and mesclun are not. According to the article, the National Drought Monitor indicated much of York County and southern Cumberland County was in “severe drought ”while “moderate drought” conditions extended to the Camden-Rockport area.

“A lot of our crops are coming in sooner because of the warm temperatures,” said Hutton, an assistant professor of vegetable crops with the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture, and a vegetable specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service. “Yields in general are pretty good, particularly from the farms that have the capability to irrigate, which most of our farmers do to some extent.”

In the BDN article, Rebar, executive director of UMaine Extension, said while the drought has hit York and Cumberland counties hardest, northern Maine has had above average precipitation this year. “Someone’s pain is another person’s pleasure,” he said.

Birkel, the state climatologist and UMaine research assistant professor with the Climate Change Institute, said since May 1, Portland has received 8.2 inches of rain — a 31-percent deficit compared to normal. Birkel also predicted the next three months will be warmer than normal.