It's looking like potatoes and other vegetable crops are rebounding nicely, according to a longtime local farmer impacted by last year's disastrous growing season.
Peter Guichon said the warm weather from the end of August to mid-September has helped turn things around in a big way.
"It helped size up the potato crops and the beans. It's brought everything on. Everybody talks about Indian summer, but this was a pretty good little heat wave that we had."
Farmers in Delta and the Fraser Valley experienced massive crop losses last year due to the torrential rainfall that began in early September. Noting that 2010 had been a fairly good growing year until September, Guichon said it was likely the worst period of rain experienced locally in 80 years, resulting in potato and other crops rotting in the ground while equipment got stuck.
Guichon, chair of the B.C. Vegetable Marketing Commission, in an interview last fall noted crop losses in the Fraser Valley included over 2,900 acres of potatoes and 4,600 total acres of vegetables.
Many local farmers were left in financial dire straits after last fall's bad weather. Some had crop insurance, however, that only covers 30 per cent of the farmer's input costs.
Another consequence, Guichon said, is that seed growers were also wiped out, which resulted in a limited supply of potato seed varieties that are unique to B.C.
Conditions remained wet this spring, which delayed the planting of crops.
However, the weather cooperated as summer took hold and it's cooling at the right time, Guichon said.
"Now if we can just stay away from the torrential downpours. We can take a bit of rain in the normal range, but nothing like we had starting last September... I think the yields are average or better on just about every crop."
Potatoes are now going into storage while beans and some sweet corn are being harvested.
Other crops, including blueberries, are also doing well, he noted, adding it looks like pumpkins will do well too.
Murray Driediger, president and CEO of BC Fresh, said it's too early for statistics that would show the quantity of crops over the previous year, but those numbers should be available in about six weeks.
He said, according to growers, it looks like the quality of crops is better than average.
Federal and provincial agriculture ministers were at a Ladner farm earlier this summer to announce funding to help some B.C. farmers recover after last year's disastrous fall.
Up to $5 million for two new AgriRecovery initiatives aimed at B.C. vegetable, cattle and bison producers were announced.
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