Saanich farms waiting for belated spring’s arrival

Unseasonable weather has delayed crops such as potatoes at Saanich farms.

Unseasonable weather has delayed crops such as potatoes at Saanich farms.

In the mornings, car windows are frosty, and, in the evenings, heating dials are turned up to winter levels. Unseasonably cool temperatures have swept the Capital Region, hitting hard the farmers who depend on springtime’s expected warmth.

At Galey Farms, early nugget potatoes have been in the ground for nearly a month – and are already a month behind as temperatures continue to run two degrees lower than the historical average.

“They’ve got hardly any growth at all,” said farm owner, Rob Galey. “They’re all  just sitting still. We’ve got eight acres in the ground and we should be pushing a hundred right now.”

His carrots, which would normally be up by now, have just begun to root.

“Average highs have been about three degrees below normal through the whole month so far,” said David Jones, meteorologist with Environment Canada.

The average high temperature for April is about 13 C, while this year, it’s hovered at 10.6 C. Morning commuters on the Malahat on April 14 felt the chill, as snow fell three weeks into spring. While none was recorded at the Victoria International Airport weather station, snow around the south coast has come within an unseasonably close 300-400 metres of sea level this year, Jones said.

“Lucky for us, our seeds haven’t started to rot yet,” said Galey, who credits his drainage system with helping avert serious damage — unlike some mainland farmers who have already lost crops this season.

“(Copes are) just not growing right now.”

Cold weather, with a low freezing level is expected to continue for the next week.

“We’re going to be flirting, in higher elevations, with snow at times, on and off for the next week or so,” Jones said.

nnorth@saanichnews.com