Hot, dry September boosts Fraser Valley harvest
Two months of record-setting hot, dry weather on the South Coast of B.C. has meant record harvests for some farmers and watering restrictions for homeowners.
Peter Guichon, whose family has been working the same fields in Delta, south of Vancouver, since 1878, says a cold and wet June meant a late start for farmers this year, but September has brought the best harvest in living memory.
"I would give it an eight and the fall, I would give it a 10," he said.
"The best September I have ever seen in my life. My dad is 87 years old and he is sitting here and he agrees with me."
B.C. dryspell records
- Driest August-September (total precipitation) on record at YVR or Steveston: 1907 (Steveston) 9.4 mm
- 2012 August – Sept. 26: 6.1 mm
- If less than 3.3 mm of precipitation is recorded by the end of September, then August and September 2012 will rank as the driest on record in Vancouver/Steveston.
- Records date to January 1, 1937 at Vancouver (YVR), February 1, 1896 at Steveston.
- Driest August-September (total precipitation) on record at YYJ: 1985, 3.2 mm
- 2012 August – Sept. 26: 1.8 mm
- If less than 1.4 mm of precipitation is recorded by the end of September, August – September 2012 will rank as the driest on record in Victoria.
- Records date to July 1, 1940 at Victoria (YYJ).
Vernon Coldstream Ranch
- Driest August-September (total precipitation) on record at Vernon Coldstream Ranch: 1904 7.4 mm
- 2012 August – Sept. 25: 20.7 mm
- August – September 18, 2012 currently ranks as the fifth driest on record at Vernon.
Fort St John (YXJ)
- Driest July-September (total precipitation) on record at YYJ: 1945 - 55.9 mm
- 2012 July – Sept. 24: 45.1mm
- If less than 10.8 mm of precipitation is recorded by the end of September, July – September, 2012 will rank as the driest on record at Fort St John.
- Records date to March 1, 1942.
Guichon says he and other local farmers are busy harvesting potatoes, peas, beans, corn and other crops.
But he says farmers could use a little rain — with no late summer runoff, water from the Gulf of Georgia has moved up into the Fraser River and creating problems for those who use the river for irrigation.
"The salt backs up into the river and the intakes for all of our irrigation is right from the river," Guichon said.
"The cranberries will be the biggest thing because they have to use water to harvest and they will not put salt water on their cranberry bogs or it just finishes them forever."
Guichon says cranberry farmers will likely have to wait for the rains to come before they can harvest.
Water restrictions hit Sunshine Coast
Meanwhile homeowners on the Sunshine Coast, north of Vancouver, are facing something new — a level-three water restriction, banning residents from washing their vehicles or turning on sprinklers.
Sunshine Coast Regional District spokesman Bryan Shoji says Chapman Lake, where the district draws its water, is lower than officials can ever remember, and have even considered flying in extra equipment to help draw water.
"We want to be able to get through this drought period without having to do that. So anything that our community can do to hold back and conserve water that would be great."
But Meteorologist David Jones says there is only a small chance of rain this week.
"By the time it reaches the Sunshine Coast it's really going to peter out, so there may just be a few light showers on Friday."