British Columbia

Strawberries in B.C.: fruit ripe in May now the new normal says grower

Strawberry growers in the Fraser Valley have ripe berries ready for eating due to continued warm weather.

Record-breaking temperatures, mild winters making strawberries ripen earlier, taste sweeter

Ripe strawberries at Maan Farms in Abbotsford. The farm picked a harvest of fruit on May 10, 2016, the earliest ever since it began operations in 1977. (CBC)

What was once a fruit associated with June in British Columbia, appears to have moved permanently to May.

"This year, we're breaking new records," said Amir Maan, operations manager with Maan Farms in Abbotsford.

"This year we picked on the 10th of May. Last year, we picked on the 14th. This directly correlates with the hot temperatures we've been having."

Amir Maan with Maan Farms in Abbotsford says, that due to climate change, May has become the new normal season for strawberries in the Fraser Valley instead of June. (Christer Waara/CBC)

Maan says mild winters, combined with warm springs are helping farmers like him harvest fruit earlier from plants that have high berry counts and are free from rot. The conditions also make for fruit with a high sugar content.

"It's like biting a piece of candy," said Maan.

The BC Strawberry Growers Association, which represents 30 growers in the Fraser Valley, said in an e-mail to CBC News that many growers were reporting buds on strawberries.

A worker picks strawberries at Maan Farms in Abbotsford on May 13, 2016. (Christer Waara/CBC)

"We should be in season around the 3rd to 4th week of May," wrote Lisa Craig with the association.

Meanwhile Maan Farms, which has been in business since 1977, is already selling its ripe berries and is expecting that in the years ahead it will be ready to do so even earlier.

"I think it may be the new norm. It may be even earlier next year, like the 5th, [is when we will pick]," he said. "The farmers are definitely noticing it."

Blueberries, seen here ripening at Maan Farms in Abbotsford, are also expected to be ready earlier than usual. (CBC)

Meanwhile raspberry and blueberries appear to be not far behind with Driediger Farms reporting it will be ready to sell the berries in the first or second week of June.