This story is part of the Grist series Parched, an in-depth look at how climate change-fueled drought is reshaping communities, economies, and ecosystems.
The Samascott Family has been growing apples on their self-named orchard in Kinderhook, New York, since the 1940s. Like many farms in Upstate New York, Samascott Orchards has had to make big adjustments over the decades to try to remain profitable. One of those changes was shifting from planting larger apple trees to smaller ones, which can yield more apples per acre of farmland. While this strategy makes good economic sense most years, it can create challenges for growers during dry summers like this one.
“We used to have much bigger apple trees; they could sometimes go months without much rain at all,” said owner Gary Samascott. “Now with these new smaller trees with much more root systems and much higher yield per acre, you can go maybe three weeks without water.”
At first glance, Upstate New York might not look like it has a problem with precipitation. After all, when Americans think of the term “drought,” chances are they think of the Western U.S. — dead lawns, disappearing reservoirs, and ... Read more