Hard winter expensive for greenhouse farmers
Farmers trying to grow through the winter or get an early start on the season using greenhouses have had an expensive time of it.
The days have been good this week at Olde MacKenzie Farm in Rose Valley. There's been plenty of sunshine to warm the greenhouses, but the cold nights are taking their toll on tender heads of lettuce.
"We probably lost about three quarters of it," said owner Carey Wood.
"We lost a full bed of tatsoi in one of the greenhouses, part bed of kale, a good chunk of spinach and arugula."
Wood's greenhouses have been damaged by ice slicing through the plastic, and she's spent thousands on snow clearing.
Down the road at Brookfield Gardens the weight of the snow in December crushed one of their greenhouses. It will cost more than $5,000 to replace. With the cold weather stretching into March they will likely wait an extra week to plant seedlings in the remaining greenhouses. They heat them with propane, and the cost of that has doubled.
At VanKampen's Greenhouses in Charlottetown, Charlie VanKampen is growing thousands of tomato plants. He said they've spent at least $10,000 more this winter.
"Between snow clearing and the extra labour involved and the fuel bill going up," he said.
Growers say it's not likely they'll be able to make much of the losses back, by charging more for their vegetables, because there's only so much consumers will pay.