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Rain a relief for some Maine farmers, while flood threats loom elsewhere

Monday's rain brought moisture to Maine, half of which had faced drought conditions for much of the summer.

NEW GLOUCESTER, Maine — Those traveling south for the Labor Day holiday hit traffic snags well into the early evening, with delays as far north as Falmouth stretching down to the New Hampshire border. 

The consistent barrage of rain generated low visibility for those in the queue.

For Maine farmers, crops dictate the pace of life. They faced months of drought, particularly in the southern half of the state. So, rain was a welcome sight for many.

In New Gloucester, Mike Thompson, whose apple orchard had survived the drought, spoke with NEWS CENTER Maine. He does not have a permanent irrigation system and was quite happy to see the rain outside his shop's windows on Monday.

He even had some customers wanting to pick fruit in this weather.

Barbara Conwell and her family had Thompson's entire orchard — 3,000 trees strong — to themselves.

"Only Mainers would be out here in the rain picking apples, right?" Conwell laughed.

Labor Day weekend unofficially launches the apple picking season, Thompson said. With his land on high ground, he was happy with the steady soaking.

Though he wished the rain came in smaller storms throughout the year. The first batches of apples bloomed a week early and were ripened to taste while being undersized and keeping a green skin; unappealing to some.

"People do your spot picking for you because ... people like eye candy," he said. "They’re gonna go in, and they’re gonna take the biggest and the best, and that gives the smaller ones a chance to grow up."

While New Gloucester got light, steady showers for much of the day, clouds lingered over other parts of the state, threatening flood conditions

"I don't want any part of that," Thompson shook his head.

As a cruel irony, the exceptionally dry ground doesn’t soak up rain as well as ground that gets occasional moisture. 

Ask two Mainers how they felt about Monday's deluge, and anyone would be likely to get two different answers.

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