Making the effects of extreme weather less severe

UNH Extension and NH Vegetable and Berry Growers Association has launched a four-part series on the Climate Adapted Farm, Making the effects of extreme weather less severe. These educational farm tours are for farmers and anyone interested in learning about climate adaptation on farms. Climate adaptation can look like many things on a New Hampshire farm, how farms are adapting varies based on their production system, crops grown, and primary threats to their system. As we experience more frequent heavy rain events interspersed with periods of dry weather, we see farms turning to engineered solutions in managing the flow of rainfall and runoff to ‘slow the flow’ of the water on their farm. During a three or four inch rain event, it is likely to experience erosion, causing damage to farm roads, or carrying pollutants or excess fertilizer off-site. Farms are doing what they can to keep water (and soil) on-site by installing drainage ponds, building up their roads, installing water bars, improving grassy alleyways, integrating reduced tillage strategies and utilizing cover crops to protect their topsoil while managing these extreme rainfall events. How water moves through a system and opportunities to improve the flow of water will be highlighted on June 18th at the tour of Barker’s Farm in Stratham. Integrating no/low till systems and tarping for weed suppression and opening up new fields will be highlighted at the June 5th tour of Waxing Moon Gardens in Sandwich, NH.

In a northeast climate where precipitation is consistent in the growing season, vegetable growers have long relied on high and low tunnels to improve yield and reduce the incidence of disease.  As the northeast braces for hotter summers with more days over 90F and even 95F, how we keep our plants comfortable in these systems will be of increasing importance. Heat stress in plants can result in flower abortion and fruit drop, pollen termination, sunscald or bleaching, leaf rolling or cupping, wilting, and bolting. The good news is there are many strategies to protect plants from heat stress, but they may require additional investment and labor. In a greenhouse, proper ventilation is required and should be the first step in cooling. New technologies allow growers to automate these systems so the structure self-regulates based on controls set by the grower.  Other strategies such as white plastic mulch which does not absorb as much heat, organic mulches to conserve soil moisture and keep the soil cool, and integration of shade cloth (where appropriate) can help keep your plants healthy and productive. During an excessive heat event combined with particularly dry weather, we may see issues with fertilizer or chemical burn with pesticide use, or pesticides not working properly. While many growers are familiar with growing in a protected structure like a high tunnel or greenhouse, the tour at Spring Ledge Farm on July 16 will focus on energy efficiency upgrades, technology and automated options for high tunnels, and heat mitigation options.

Lastly, cascading weather events in 2023 resulted in catastrophic losses for farms throughout the Northeast. From hard winter freezes, spring frosts, a full season of rain, and fully saturated soils, on top of smoke-filled skies induced by forest fires in Canada, it was hard to harvest just about any crop and maintain market demands. Every farm should have an emergency management plan in place. Wilson Farm will walk us through their plans to anticipate disaster and quickly and efficiently respond in an emergency on the August 20th tour. We will learn how they approach risk management and what practical steps a farm business can put into place for ease of mind in a climate-changing world.

Find full details of the tours below or by visting

The Climate Adapted Farm: Making the effects of extreme weather less severe

Join NH Vegetable and Berry Growers Association (NHVGBA) & UNH Extension for this climate-resilience focused series. Attend one or more events to learn how your farm can adapt to better withstand the challenges of climate change, and how together we are working towards farmer-driven actionable solutions.

The Climate Adapted Farm Events

June 18, 2024 | 5:30 - 7:30pm
Preparing Your Land for Extreme Weather Learn about implementing swales, field roads, drainage ponds, and soil health practices to manage water effectively and adapt to climate challenges. Barker’s…
July 16, 2024 | 5:30 - 7:30pm
Physically Protecting Your Crops Discover strategies for efficiency improvements and technology add-ons when growing crops in controlled environments like high and low tunnels, and netted structures…
August 20, 2024 | 5:30 - 7:30pm
Resilience Against Extreme Weather Explore concrete actions to prepare your farm for floods, droughts, or extreme heat and get introduced to emergency management planning. While it's challenging to…