B.C. berry farmers concerned about cool spring

You may be waiting longer than usual this spring to buy fresh local berries at your grocery store. Some crops are already a little behind schedule and you can blame the weather.

CityNews Meteorologist Michael Kuss said Monday the spring forecast for the end of March and beginning of April should be average or even below average and will stay that way until early May.

“We’re expecting to see slightly cooler-than-normal temperatures taking us through even the early parts of May. Tail end of spring, heading into summer we should start to get average temperatures and across the spring period, it looks like precipitation will be at or below average,” he said.

Read More: B.C. weather: First day of spring Monday

A bundle of fresh blueberries ready for harvest

FILE – Wild blueberries are ready for harvesting July 27, 2012, in Warren, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)


It’s not great, but it’s not supposed to be like last spring when cool and frosty temperatures were bad for crops.

Rhonda Driediger, owner of Driediger Farms in Langley grows strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and red currants.

She tells CityNews her strawberries are already about 10 days behind where they’re supposed to be right now.

“We look at our averages every year and when we anticipate starting, so for us the first one out is strawberries. Are we looking at is it going to be mid-May? Is it going to be end of May? Is it going to be the beginning of June? Right now, it looks like right at the end of May, beginning of June is when we’d start [selling],” she said.

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Driediger explains farmers live and die by the weather as it affects the soil, the blossoms, the leaves, and the overall product. And if things don’t go well, it affects their bottom line.

“I always tell people, ‘think about if you go to work every day but you only get paid when it’s sunny.’ We do everything we can, everything in our power to make sure the plants are healthy, the plants have everything they need, that we bring bees in at the right time, but then all of a sudden, a late frost can wipe out an entire field. You can do all the right planning and you have to have contingencies for everything.”

She adds it can be tricky because the weather that’s best for crops may not be in line with what people want.

“Not all sun is good and not all rain is bad. We might get a week of rain [and] it might be fabulous for us, but everyone is depressed because they want to have a nice sunny weekend but for us it’s like, ‘Whoo!'”

Driediger says if it’s too hot, they can actually see the leaves of plants burn, adding ideal temperatures would be about 5 to 6 degrees in the evening with daytime highs of 14 to 15 degrees.

Meantime, the BC Blueberry Council says it’s too early to say how things will go this spring because pollination doesn’t begin until April.

Some blueberry farmers in the Fraser Valley continue recovering following the devastating, record-setting floods of 2021. Most crops were damaged or lost and it takes about a decade to re-establish normal production levels.

Many farmers in Abbotsford had previously said they wouldn’t be able to rebuild without government intervention. Last February, the B.C. government announced farmers would have access to $228 million in federal-provincial funding to help production and support food security in this province.

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