A bad year for strawberries, some farmers say
A wet fall last year is causing some Island strawberry farms to have a poor season
Some strawberry growers on the Island are reporting lower than average crop yields this year and the damage to the affected farms could have a lasting impact.
Keith Good, of Goodall Farms, said most of the growers he has spoken to are reporting lower strawberry yields and the fruit they do have is smaller.
"We're having, actually, quite a horrible season. The crop is very weak, very poor. It's gonna be over very quick," Good told CBC News, "Evidently it's not just this farm, it's all over P.E.I. and Atlantic Canada, for that matter."
Farmers blame the poor yield on a wet fall and the late spring frost. Even with an early spring start, farmers are bracing for a shorter season than usual.
"Fruit buds are developed in the fall, so something happened last fall, or it could have been in the wintertime. The freezing and thawing can do damage to plants too, and I think more than likely that's what happened," Good said.
Because the plants didn't fill in, opportunistic weeds have taken their place. Daisies grow where strawberries should.
Even with a decent price from the stores, some growers are still going to take a financial hit due to a lack of product in supply.
"We're talking probably about a 50 per cent loss across the Island, I'd say," Good said, "We don't know what the numbers are yet, but it's going to have a significant financial impact."
Pickers are also feeling the effects. They're getting through the crop a lot faster this year.
Foreign workers are hired in the fall, before growers know how many hands they'll need. As a result, there is less work for local pickers.
This year's low strawberry yield could also impact next year's crop. If the strawberry plants don't spread out enough, it could allow the weeds to take over and prevent the plants from flourishing next year.
But not all Island farmers are having a bad season.
Connie Stewart, co-owner of Stewart's Strawberries in Tea Hill, said this is the best season they've had in years.
"I don't know what other businesses are saying but ours is really good," Stewart said.
Stewart said her farm's successful crop is due to the farm's proximity to the water, and the breeze that wards off frost.
"A really dry spring, that helped. We had no frost damage or anything down here, which was another help," she said.