M&M Pacific Coast Farms supervisor Santokh Nandha checks out ripe blueberries during the 2012 harvest season.

Early blueberry blooms run risk of crash crop

Warm winter has blueberry flowers opening weeks ahead of time, Fraser Valley farmers hope weather will be kind to blooms and bees

Blueberry fields in the Fraser Valley are already beginning to bloom thanks to a warm winter but farmers are worried the early start could spell trouble for the crop.

Jason Smith, a blueberry farmer and chair of the B.C. Blueberry Council, said buds on many blueberry plants have begun to open, putting the season about two to three weeks ahead of normal, depending on the species and location.

“I haven’t seen it this early for quite a number of years,” Smith said, adding plants are now at a stage that typically wouldn’t be expected until mid-March.

Cold weather could still return to the Lower Mainland and damage the tender buds while they’re vulnerable, so farmers have their fingers crossed for continued mild weather and a healthy, early crop.

“We certainly wouldn’t want to see a cold snap with moderate to strong winds at this point,” Smith said. “We can have snow into March. So there’s definitely a risk.”

Chilliwack-area blueberry farms appear to be a bit ahead of Abbotsford ones, he said, while plants in the Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge area appear furthest behind.

Another question mark is whether bees will be active enough to pollinate the crop during the critical three to four days when blueberry flowers are open.

“Those bees don’t fly unless it’s 15 or 16 degrees out,” Smith said. “And if there’s strong winds they’re not going to want to fly too far from the hive either.”

Many growers rent honeybee hives because blueberries require insect pollination.

He noted a lot can change through the season.

Last year a mild spring had growers preparing to harvest two weeks early but then cooler weather in May and June pushed it back to normal.

The Lower Mainland blueberry industry produced 68 million kilograms of fruit last year from 800 farms covering 11,000 hectares.

Just Posted

Chilliwack organ transplant recipients thank hospital staff during Operation Popcorn

Two double-lung recipients helped deliver large boxes of popcorn to say thanks to doctors and nurses

Chilliwack mom gives back to Royal Columbian Hospital NICU with Christmas stocking drive

Ashley Durance is paying it forward to other families and their babies following daughter’s NICU stay

Wild Fishmas event in Chilliwack Sunday for salmon defence

It’s a fish-focused festive fundraiser Dec. 8 at the UFV Indigenous Student Gathering Place

Threats to the Fraser River at a ‘new zenith,’ says river conservationist

The ‘Heart of the Fraser’ should be deemed ecologically significant according to ORC statement

Fraser Valley Regional District administration/government costs set to rise by 18%

Mosquito control and fire dispatch costs also set for increase

VIDEO: Federal Liberals’ throne speech welcomes opposition’s ideas

Trudeau will need NDP or Bloc support to pass legislation and survive confidence votes

VIDEO: John Lennon’s iconic Rolls Royce rolls into Vancouver Island college for checkup

Royal BC Museum, Camosun College and Carriageworks Restorations come together to care for car

VIDEO: Rockslide closes part of Highway 93 in Fairmont Hot Springs

Geotechnical team called in to do an assessment after rocks fell from hoodoos

Petition calls for appeal of ex-Burns Lake mayor’s sentence for sex assault

Prosecution service says Luke Strimbold’s case is under review

Northwest B.C. wildlife shelter rescues particularly tiny bear cub

Shelter co-founder says the cub weighs less than a third of what it should at this time of year

BC firefighters to help battle Australian bushfires

Canada sent 22 people, including 7 from B.C.

B.C. NDP touts the end of MSP premiums

Horgan, James held news conference to reiterate that people will get their last bill this month

Illicit drug deaths down, but B.C. coroner says thousands still overdose

Chief coroner Life Lapointe says province’s drug supply remains unpredictable

One of B.C’s last surviving strip clubs baring all again for Christmas charity

25th annual event is Sunday and raises money for the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society.

Most Read