Cool spring helping many crops, hindering others

Lettuce fares well this year, other crops one week late

Mackenzie Williamson

Cool weather crops are faring well and the warm weather stuff is about a week behind in farmers’ fields across the Saanich Peninsula.

“The weeds are growing great in this weather,” Diane Williamson of Firbank Farm said with a chuckle. “The cool crops are doing awesome like lettuce and that type of thing.”

“Most of the leafy stuff loves cold weather, like leaf lettuce and chard,” agreed Jack Mar of Mar Farm. “The season’s just about a week behind, I think most of the stuff is going to come on.”

Farmers say the cooler weather has pushed back crops about a week.

“The growing season’s been a little bit behind normal, it’s been the same about the last three years,” said Terry Michell, fifth generation farmer on the Michell family farm.

They started picking last week, just to get the fields into rotation.

“There’s lots coming on there, so it looks like [this] week it’s going to really ramp up,” Michell said. “I think last year we started roughly the same time, but in previous years we’ve had them May 25, May 26.”

The extra time appears to be good for the plants, providing bigger, better, stronger plants that will bear similar fruit – and lots of it. He expects to be picking 400 to 500 pounds a day.

“We just need now some warmer weather, then we won’t be able to keep up,” Michell said.

“There’s lots of B.C. veggies on the go now,” Michell said, “The leader raspberries will be up in about three weeks. … They look good right now and there’s lots of blossoms on them. There should be lots of fruit around this year by the looks of things.”

With cooler temperatures hasn’t come the expected rain, and they’ve resorted to irrigation.

“It hasn’t been that wet, it’s just been cool and the wind dries things out a bit,” Michell said. “We’re fortunate here we’ve been able to have the happy medium. It’d be nice to have some sunshine [this] week on the Peninsula, there’s lots of hay to get off.”

Michells alone have 100 acres of hay that needs to be cut and off the field to get the second cut growing.

While the crops may catch up, the deer continue to feast.

Mar says his strawberries, also set to hit the market this week, are behind because of the four-legged feeders that have diminished two seasons of crops.

“Once they eat the tops the fruit doesn’t grow any more,” Mar said. “I’m just about to start fencing a piece of property for deer.”

“The deer have now decided they like lettuce [and] they started earlier,” Williamson said. “Some farms have lost half of their first lot of lettuce. We’re at about a third loss.”

 

Too cool for corn

Strange white and green marked fields are visible from Island View Road. It’s the corn crops, covered for heat because the nights remain cool. Wind whips segments of the cover off leaving the exposed green like strange markings.

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