Cold spring puts chill on Chilliwack nursery operations

The on-again, off-again spring, punctuated by days of cold, winter-like weather, has “brutalized” the multi-million dollar greenhouse industry in Chilliwack.

The on-again, off-again spring, punctuated by days of cold, winter-like weather, has “brutalized” the multi-million dollar greenhouse industry in Chilliwack.

Last month was the most dismal April since 1993 with only four sunny days and a mean temperature of 7.6 degrees C, but dropping as low as half a degree above zero, making it the fifth-coldest on record.

The cause is an unusually cool, unstable air mass from the Gulf of Alaska that has become “entrenched” over B.C. as the jet stream stubbornly refuses to move north from a position south of the province.

“Essentially, there’s virtually no place in North America, except north Texas and a few Southern states where things are normal,” said Brian Minter, an international speaker, author and broadcaster on gardening.

“The industry in the first quarter has been brutalized,” he said, with greenhouse gardening sales down by 35-50 per cent.

But April is just the first month of the three he said are “key for survival” of greenhouse operators.

Recovery is still quite possible, Minter said, if normal temperatures return.

“I’m always an optimist,” he said, “but we need to get a break fairly soon.”

Stan Vander Waal, president of Rainbow Greenhouses in Sardis, said he’d like to see that turn-around in temperature come before the May 24 long weekend.

He said sales at Rainbow are currently 30 per cent below “where we want to be.”

“It’s not great gardening weather, so nobody is too pumped up to get out and buy,” he said.

The company can get by “holding back” plants in the greenhouse until good gardening weather returns and buyers are tempted outside, but at a certain point plants are “geared” to be in the ground and growing, he said.

The unseasonal weather has mostly affected greenhouses in the Lower Mainland, and sales are “pretty good” elsewhere in B.C., Vander Waal said.

But they’re not the only industry feeling the chill. Local house sales are also off – only 187 homes were sold last month compared to 233 in the same month last year, the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board reported, and it’s blaming the cold weather and the federal election.

Minter said weather conditions last year were also pretty bad for greenhouses, but admitted this is the worst he’s seen it in his lifetime.

However, it’s the plants, not the gardeners, that are sensitive to low temperatures, he said.

He described B.C. gardeners as a hardy bunch who will tend their plants in rain or shine.

But the plants themselves must have warmer temperatures to germinate, he said.

Minter also reminded gardeners about the adage that planting late resulted in faster-growing plants.

“There’s nothing we can do about (the weather),” he said. “We just have to be patient.”

Just Posted

Chilliwack RCMP find chemicals and cannabis extract in illicit lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

Chilliwack RCMP seek suspects in rash of poppy donation box thefts

Incidents at four different locations in Sardis in the days leading up to Remembrance Day

German-born British Columbian warns against a ‘yes’ vote on proportional representation

Agassiz realtor Freddy Marks says PR in his home country shows party elites can never be voted out

Train ride at Minter store not part of this year’s festive fun

Tough decision made to stop seasonal train in its tracks after injury suffered by Brian Minter

Players Guild challenges Chilliwack residents to solve classic Agatha Christie whodunit mystery

The Chilliwack Players Guild is performing Murder on the Nile from Nov. 22 to Dec. 2

Winter weather hits parts of Canada

As some parts of the country brace for cold, parts of B.C. remain warmer than 10 C

5 B.C. cities break temperature records

Parts of B.C. remain warm, at 10 C, while others feeling chilly

B.C. teacher’s Amazing Race takes students on Canada-wide adventure

Agassiz high school students say they had the experience of a life time

Don’t sign USMCA until LGBTQ language excised, U.S. lawmakers urge Trump

The trade agreement, forged after 13 months of tense negotiations between Canada and the U.S. is scheduled for Nov. 30

US official: US intel says prince ordered Khashoggi killing

Vice-President Mike Pence told reporters that ‘the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was an atrocity.’

Canada’s health system commendable overall but barriers to care remain: UN

The United Nations says Canada’s health care system is “commendable” overall but vulnerable groups still face barriers to quality care.

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

Kelly Ellard’s boyfriend has statutory release revoked

Darwin Duane Dorozan had several parole infractions that found him ‘unmanageable’

Most Read