British Columbia

Hot, dry summer means early harvest for Halloween pumpkins

The hot, sunny weather on the West Coast this summer is pushing crops ahead, meaning Halloween pumpkins could be ready before the end of August.

Pumpkins, cranberries and Brussel spouts could all be ready in the next few weeks

Halloween pumpkins will be ready a month early because of the warm, dry summer on the West Coast this year. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

The hot, sunny weather on the West Coast this summer is pushing crops ahead, meaning Halloween pumpkins could be ready before the end of August.

Crops like blueberries, raspberries, Brussel sprouts, carrots and potatoes are already off schedule when it comes to their growing and harvesting,

Now pumpkins are expected to be ready in a few weeks — about a month earlier than usual.

"We should actually move Thanksgiving to be about a week from now," jokes Tom Baumann, a berry farmer and professor of agriculture at the University of the Fraser Valley.

"Cranberries will also be extremely early this year, so maybe we can prepare earlier for Thanksgiving."

And while earlier crops might not seem like a problem, they do create some challenges.

Many crops need to be harvested at just the right temperatures so the food will last in storage long into the winter. If it's too warm, they will simply rot.

Lack of water leading to crop losses

But for Baumann, the biggest concern isn't what's happening to this year's harvest: it's next year's that has him worried, especially for berry farmers like himself.

The latest long term weather forecasts are predicting the unprecedented drought conditions in the Lower Mainland could continue well into the fall and winter,.

Corn is sprouting up earlier than usual in the Fraser Valley, as are many other crops. If the hot weather continues, the 2016 harvest could be affected too, according to a professor of agriculture (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

"I'm worried that we're not going to get all the blooms that we need next year," he says.

"It's too warm, too nice. If it doesn't get cool in September or October we're going to see less of a crop next year."

His other concern is irrigation. He says some local farmers' irrigation ditches are so low that water pumps that draw water from the ditches are simply sucking air instead of water.

In some areas, the lack of water is already resulting in crop losses, he says, and reduced rain and snow over the winter could leave water reservoirs even lower next year.

To hear the full interview, click the audio labelled: Halloween pumpkins in August? Hot, dry summer impacts harvest


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