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Drought forces Natick farm to prioritize apples over pumpkins

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By Mike Sullivan, WBZ-TV

NATICK – Local apple orchards and pumpkin patches are ready for the fall rush, but they are still battling the summer drought.

“We just had such a long stretch of lack of adequate rain that it’s been a drain on the system,” said Jay Mofenson, Farm Operations Manager at Belkin Family Lookout Farm in Natick.

In some cases, pumpkins may be a bit smaller this season due to the lack of water. The drought is forcing some farms to choose which crops get additional water, and which don’t. Belkin Family Lookout Farm has been around since the 1651. Typically, they have water on site, but three weeks ago they ran out.

“The crop is going to look very similar to last year’s crop,” tells Mofenson. “The negative of that is the expense to provide that experience is now going to be an additional six-figure expense.”

This is the first time they are paying for city water to keep their apples on track. They are currently spending almost $3,000 a day on water.

“We have some really nice pumpkins that just happened to grow with the water we had,” said Mofenson, adding that none of their pumpkins received additional water.

At the end of the season, Mofenson and his team plow the pumpkin patches over. The apple trees on the farm can be more than 40-years-old. It’s forced them to prioritize where their money goes.

“Unlike a pumpkin you just scrap the crop, but you can’t just replant a tree. It’s a 5-year process to replace a tree,” explained Mofenson.

Belkin Family Lookout is getting creative to conserve water where they can. They are creating berms in their roadways to capture any flowing water into catch basins. In the future, those berms will become permanent speed bumps.

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