Unseasonal weather brings uncertainty
It doesn’t seem to matter which farmer you ask. This has been the coldest and wettest spring Fraser Valley growers have ever seen.
The Abbotsford Airport recorded 300 mm of rain between April 1 and May ugg boots 31, or 36 per cent above normal.
The result is at least a two week delay in planting fruits and vegetables, which means berries that are usually ripening this time of year are still green.
“It’s been very wet, slow ripening with too much rain,” said Henk Onnink, who has a blueberry farm on Downes Road, west of 304 Street.
Onnink has been growing berries for 30 years, but this year they’re two to three weeks late.
He said the excessively wet spring has helped the berries to grow, but without sun they don’t sweeten. crop.
Normally, the picking would start in ear ugg boots ly July, but Onnink said the problem isn’t limited to just blueberry growers.
Strawberries usually ripen earlier than other fruits, but Devinder Maan said she began picking just last Sunday, 10 days later than usual.
Maan Farms, located on McKenzie Road south of the highway, has been growing strawberries since 1977 and this is the worst year.
And because there were few sunny days in the spring it was difficult to figure out when to plant. That brings a level of uncertainty as to how the berries will fare.
“One field looks promising, but as for the other field, time will tell,” she said.
But growers are optimistic and the fields look good, says Sharmin Gamiet of the Fraser Valley Strawberry Growers Association.
“If the weather continues like this, it’s going to be a fabulous crop,” she said, admitting the berries are a couple of weeks late.
“If the crop ripens slowly, like it is right now, it’s going to be a good crop. The challenge for us is if it gets suddenly hot and dry.”
In his 10 years of farming blueberries ugg boots , Kerry Seale of Blueberry Junction has never seen bees pollinating blueberry flowers into late June.
He expects to have a 20 per cent reduction in his berry crop, and doesn’t expect his berries to ripen until mid July to the first week of August.
“I know it’s hard to believe but the earliest blueberries from Chilliwack would actually be available around the first of July because the [Abbotsford Berry] festival is normally that weekend. This year we’ll be lucky to have strawberries for the Abbotsford Festival,” he said.
Seale said the eastern end of the Fraser Valley actually gets a bit more sun and heat and yields earlier blueberries, which is why Chilliwack usually gets the jump on Abbotsford.
It isn’t just berry farmers that have been affected by cold and wet weather. Peter Schouten of Heppell’s Potato Corp. is coming off the soggiest September in his 17 years as a farm owner.
The fall was so wet that it wiped out the crops of many potato farmers in the Lower Mainland.
The largest producer in Abbotsford, he plants 650 acres of potatoes on Sumas Prairie and lost about 30 per cent of it last year, roughly $2 million.
“We need some heat to make up for the time we’ve lost and that pushes us back later into fall which makes us a little worried,” he said.
“It’s not so much just that we’re delayed two weeks. The crop that is growing is delayed two weeks, but we have a gap in planting of almost 40 days, which is unheard of.”
Potato farmers like to start planting every other day or week from February to late May. But non stop rains this spring me ugg boots ant Schouten couldn’t plant his crops for over a month, so when it comes time to deliver to market he might just come up empty handed.
“There were a couple of days where we just planted 48 hours straight. We just had two shifts of crews going and we hired everybody we could hire.”
Peter Guichon of Felix Farms, a 57 year old four generation farmer, echoes the comments of everybody else.
“Wettest, coolest spring I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen nothing like it. My dad’s 86 years old and he says the same thing.”