PEI

Island strawberry growers hit hard by cold temperatures

The head of the P.E.I. Strawberry Growers Association says as much as a third of his strawberries look like they've been wiped out by frost and cold temperatures.

'I've been put through worse, and we'll live to see another day. But it's just not good times right now'

Matt Compton says he expects to lose a large percentage of his early market strawberries because of damage from frost and cold temperatures. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

The head of the P.E.I. Strawberry Growers Association says as much as 75 per cent of his early strawberries, meaning a third of his overall crop, look like they've been wiped out by frost and cold temperatures. 

"It could be better than that, or it could be worse, but right now from what we're seeing that's kind of a number that we're pretty concerned about," said Matt Compton, who grows strawberries, along with other crops, on his farm in Summerside, P.E.I. 

Compton said he'd had high hopes for the season, and that his crops had been looking good. He says the blossoms are now brown and black from the freeze, and it's "pretty devastating" to see the damage. 

'Not good times'

Compton says early-market strawberries are the ones that usually show up around Canada Day. He says those early berries are where the largest demand is. 

"You know everyone can't wait for that first taste of, what I call Island summer … and it's certainly heartbreaking not to be able to have that right now," Compton said. 

Strawberry plants on Matt Compton's farm have been damaged by cold temperatures. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

Compton said the damage will mean a big financial hit for him, though at the moment he's trying not to think about the "scary number." 

"I've been put through worse, and we'll live to see another day. But it's just not good times right now," he said.

Other vegetables also affected

As well as his 15 to 20 acres of strawberries, Compton also grows 35 acres of vegetables on his farm, and he says his other crops have also taken a hit. 

He says he's lost pumpkins that were ready to plant, and some early yellow beans as well.

In speaking with other farms they too say they anticipate damage, but will wait a few days before making their assessments. 

The P.E.I. Potato board says there has been some damage to early potatoes, but not a serious amount. The board also says some planting has been delayed. 

The P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture says soil temperatures have been colder than normal for this time of year, which isn't good for any crops.

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With files from Laura Chapin and Natalia Goodwin

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