British Columbia

Corn farmers in B.C.'s Fraser Valley dealing with crop delays after unseasonably wet weather

The cold and wet weather B.C. faced this spring is causing the latest corn season in decades, according to a Chilliwack farmer.

Chilliwack farmer says it's the latest corn season he's seen in decades

Chilliwack farmer Ian Sparkes says his corn crops have been delayed by at least two to three weeks due to this spring's cold and wet weather. (Baneet Braich/CBC)

Usually, by mid-July, Ian Sparkes' corn crops are fully grown and ready to be harvested and sold.

But this year, the Chilliwack farmer says it will be at least another two to three weeks before they can be picked.

Sparkes says the cold and wet weather B.C. faced this spring is causing the latest corn season he's witnessed in decades.

"We need dry soil in order to work the field and plant the crops. This year … We barely got two dry days in a row," Sparkes told CBC. 

Ideally, corn needs consistent temperatures of around 30 C to grow properly, Sparkes explained. But the weather this summer has been anything but consistent. 

"I've never seen rain so often as this year in my farming career," he said. "It's really stressful." 

Delays come after record-breaking June rain

Lenore Newman, the director of the food and agriculture institute at the University of the Fraser Valley, says the delays are part of a "knock-on effect" after one of B.C.'s wettest Junes on record. 

An aerial image of a field of corn is pictured in Abbotsford, British Columbia on Tuesday, July 12, 2022. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

"We've had fires, we've had floods, we've had, you know, the heat dome. And this long, wet spring just felt like insult to injury," Newman said. "We need a break in the farm sector." 

Sparkes says the delayed start may mean a hit of up to 30 to 50 per cent in corn sales at his farm. 

Short selling season

"It is anticipated that there may be a short selling season because corn sales usually slow down after Labour Day," B.C.'s Ministry of Agriculture and Food said in a statement. 

The ministry said corn crops across the province are behind schedule this year.

Abbotsford farmer Gurmukh Baydal's farm is also facing the same delays. The cool and wet weather resulted in him planting about 20 per cent less corn than last year. 

Gurmukh Badyal and his son Manjot Badyal, right, at their corn field in Abbotsford, B.C. on June 12, 2022. (Gian Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

But he says they aren't too worried because the corn itself is looking good. 

"If the weather stays good, like today, the weather is nice, corn like[s] that heat," Baydal said. 

Newman added that corn is among other crops, like blueberries, which are similarly affected.

"I don't think there's a single crop now that's had an uninterrupted growing season," she said. 

While wet weather has prevented crops from maturing faster, Sparkes and Baydal remain optimistic as the heat grows and sweetens up their corn.

B.C. farmer says his corn harvest has been delayed 2-3 weeks by wet weather

5 months ago
Duration 0:45
Abbotsford, B.C., farmer Gurmukh Baydal says the wet spring weather has delayed his corn harvest by two to three weeks and he hopes the sunshine sticks around to help his crops grow faster.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brittany Roffel is a digital journalist with CBC Vancouver. Get in touch with her on Twitter at @BrittanyRoffel or at brittany.roffel@cbc.ca.

With files from Baneet Braich

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