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

Suspects charged after police incident by golf course

Mission and Maple Ridge RCMP combined forces to arrest two men

Mobile complaint clinic coming to Langley Feb. 9

The B.C. Ombudsperson is touring cities, taking complaints against the provincial government

UPDATE: Tsunami warning cancelled for coastal British Columbia

Warning issued following 7.9 earthquake off Kodiak, AK

‘Restless night’ for Semiahmoo First Nation after tsunami warning

Alaska earthquake puts Semiahmoo First Nation on notice

Mission RCMP recover 22 stolen vehicles and several firearms

Charges are still pending after police search two separate properties

Tsunami warnings 101: Canada

Here are some things to know about tsunami alerts in Canada and how they work

Castlegar homicide victim identified

The victim was 38-year-old Jordan Workman of Castlegar, B.C.

B.C. Liberal leadership candidates get one last prime-time pitch

Leadership campaign to be decided in Feb. 3 vote

Homeless evicted from First Nation reserve land say they have nowhere to go

‘Why not just let us stay until spring?’ one camper at Chilliwack site pleads

Andrew Scheer on trade, Trump and Trudeau

Canada’s Conservative leader begins three-day visit to B.C.

Victims restrained, sex toys and cash stolen from B.C. adult store

Armed suspects sought in adult store robbery

UPDATED: 10 Safeways in Lower Mainland to close

Locations in Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, Coquitlam, Richmond and Mission slated to shut

Vancouver Islanders ponder need for tsunami siren song

Alarm sounds in Port Alberni but not at the DND base in Esquimalt

Five charged in bid to shut pop-up pot market in Vancouver’s Robson Square

Marijuana flower, edibles, money and some weapons were seized as part of weekend raid

Most Read