Strawberry growers across P.E.I. started harvesting their crop this week, and are starting to get a better idea of the impact a new virus is having in their fields.
"Our yield is going to be at least down 50 to 60 per cent to what we thought it was going to be or hoped it would be," said Fort Augustus grower Keith Good.
Good has plowed under about 40 cent of his 4.5 hectares of strawberries in an effort to stop the new virus from spreading. The virus is a hydrid, a combination of two previously known viruses, and is spread by aphids.
Good says lower volumes mean some growers are turning to other growers to help fill orders. But there is also a shortage of pickers, he said. The short harvest season can make it difficult to hire workers.
"It's one thing to have a small crop, and now if we can't get what is there out of the ground, it's just another whammy that we're going to be facing," he said.
On the plus side, Good said consumers won't notice any difference in the quality of the berries.
"It's just attacking the plant. It's not hurting the fruit whatsoever," he said.
Good said it may take a couple of years before his berry yield returns to normal.