how long to wait before painting staining fence?

I live in Washington State where it is fairly wet, and our rainy season is just coming to an end now.
My neighbor wants to stain his fence, and I want to paint mine (although may go for a Behr colored solid stain).
How long should we wait before we paint/stain? These fences were put up in the rainy season and it has been raining on them regularly for a good few months. He thinks a few days is okay, but I'm more comfortable waiting 4-5 weeks.
Also, along part of my fence is a vegetable garden. Should I put something up so the fruit/vegetables do not touch the treated fence? Would it be safer for me to paint or stain bearing in mind we'll be eating the produce grown next to it?
The fences are starting to look "grey" and we want to preserve them as best we can, but I'm particularly keen on having mine a lighter color.
Your suggestions are most appreciated.
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I can't tell you about how long the fence should dry after such a long rainy season but I do know that you shouldn't paint or stain wood until it is quite dry. Otherwise it can't soak up the stain or paint and it will peel off and flake as soon as it gets hot and dryer.
We just used an off-white "Nantucket White" Cabot solid stain on the railings of our deck railing which was about a year old. We used the acrylic version (by mistake, actually. My painter contractor Sweetie wanted the oil based, but the paint store gave us the other and we used it without realizing it.)
It came out spectacular. It's very solid and durable. The solid stain dries very quickly, and it doesn't give off anything toxic. It looks just like paint. You can't chip it with your finger at all. I believe it is a better choice for outdoor stuff because it is wetter and soaks into the wood more deeply.
I'd say spring for the expensive stuff, not the Home Depot brand. In paint it really does make a difference.
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A few dry days is all that is necessary. If one waited 4-5 weeks for continually dry weather in the PNW before painting, few things would ever get painted :-)) As long as you are a tidy painter and get no stain or paint on the plants or produce, you should be fine.
pam - gardengal PNW

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I built fences etc. out of wet greenwood and asked the same question. I got answers all over the place but I wasnt going to wait forever so I got menards deck and concrete paint and it went on over wet wood (on a dry day) and nothing has peeled at all in 4 years so far. OTOH, I did get some pricey Behr paint from home depot for a chair and the damn thing peeled in 2 weeks. Ingrid

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