Most springtimes on Vancouver Island feature at least a couple of weeks of warm weather that give the crops a push.
This was not the case in 2022. Little sun and temperatures never getting into the 20s have left the agricultural community wondering how its harvests will turn out.
Diane Jackson, the president of the Mid-Island Farmers Institute, says it has been an odd year. The group has represented roughly 80 members in recent years and works to provide a voice for the farming community with the provincial government.
Jackson has been tracking weather in her garden journals every year and found in most springs, there are at least a couple of weeks when the temperature jumps up and gives the plants and boost, but 2022 has been different.
“This year, we didn’t get that,” she said. “We got a bit of the sun, but we didn’t get the heat.”
She has noticed some crops like peppers and tomatoes were flowering late this year. Questions for many crops have sprung up during the season, and Jackson hopes the area might get lucky and end up with late summer weather lasting into fall.
Arzeena Hamir runs Amara Farm in the Comox Valley with her husband. She says they lost about 60 per cent of their crop of potatoes because of rain in April and May. Some of the leafy vegetables like chard, kale and collards got “tricked into thinking they’d been through winter” and started to flower instead of continuing to grow leaves. Other crops like blueberries were behind because of poor pollination.
Jackson agrees, saying the lack of bees pollinating was part of the problem.
“I literally had zero fruit on my cherry trees this year,” she said, adding this issue is one that has affected farmers all over, in places like the Okanagan.
Glen Beaton, who runs StoneCroft Farm, has likewise found it was a tough spring for certain crops.
“This year, the cereal grain has been really bad,” he said.
He has had better luck growing other things like hay though. He agrees that with the cold weather through the spring, everything seems to be coming in later, as he notes some things like blueberries seems to two or three weeks behind schedule.
Jackson notes that flower growers are also being affected by the cold spring. Thanushi Eagalle of Wild Bee Florals said some plants have been hit hard, with ones like dahlias coming in later than usual.
“Our seedlings were growing so slow,” she said. “Our flower crops are two to three weeks behind.”
If there’s an upside to this, she says, it is that the slower pace at which tulips opened up has helped manage the pace of work.
In all, Jackson says she hopes for nice weather into late summer and fall to help with the crops by extending their season.
“I’ve got high hopes. I’m like the eternal optimist,” she said.