British Columbia

Sunny weather helping Fraser Valley farmers after soggy spring

After a cold, wet spring delayed early spring blooms and berries, farmers in B.C.'s Fraser Valley are back to their normal harvesting schedules.

Harvest only slightly behind or at historically normal levels, farmers say

Blueberry farmer Jason Smith says his first crop of blueberries are ready for harvest — which is historically normal. (Gary Quigley/CBC)

Although a cold, wet spring delayed berries, flowers, and other crops in B.C.'s Lower Mainland, a warm spell of summer weather means most local produce will hit store shelves as usual.

Farmers were worried after the Lower Mainland experienced the gloomiest March on record with the fewest hours of sunshine ever recorded and rain 28 out of 31 days.

Abbotsford blueberry farmer Jason Smith said while the wet conditions weren't ideal, this year's blueberry harvest time is similar to historical normal timing although later than 2015 and 2016 when the harvest was earlier due to unusually warm weather.

"[The rain] made it challenging at times for growers to get into the fields without making a huge mess but overall, growers were able to get done what they needed to get done," he said.  

Howard Wong Sr., who operates Howard Wong Farms in Matsqui and grows corn, cabbage, potatoes, pumpkins, lettuce, and other field vegetables, estimates most of his crops are only a week behind.

"Surprisingly, it turned out not bad," he said.

"Even all our field crops, we're a little bit behind but not so much ... It seems like nature takes care of us somehow."

Warmer temperatures on the way

According to CBC Meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe, temperatures are expected to climb all week to 26C to 30C on the South Coast due to a southwesterly flow.

Smith said too much hot weather could have an impact on the crop.

"Mid-20s is good. Once it starts getting up to the high 20s, low 30s, that's not what I'd call ideal weather," he said.

"If it gets too hot, there could be an effect on quality, depending on how fast and how hot it actually gets."

Wong agreed.

"Right now, it's good, moderate, a little bit cloudy. We could use some moisture pretty soon."

According to the Fraser Valley Regional District, the region is one of the most intensively farmed areas in the country and brings in nearly $1 billion annually.

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