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

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

There were a total of 182 deaths of trumpeter swans at Judson Lake over the past winter, according to the Save the Swans website. The lake has the heaviest lead concentration of any known lake, the website states. (PHOTO: savetheswans.ca)
Abbotsford petition says lead shot is killing waterfowl in Judson Lake and elsewhere

Farmer Kevin Sinclair says local lake is ‘poster child’ for swans’ deaths from lead poisoning

A tenant walks in front of her home on Boundary Road on Friday, June 18, 2021 after it was destroyed by fire the night before in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack family homeless after fire rips through house on Abbotsford border

Turtle rescued, no one seriously hurt following Boundary Road fire in Chilliwack

n
Quarry Questions: Supreme Court ruling spells concern for Mission bylaws

Judge ruled that provincial permits overrule municipal bylaws relating to mining activity

column
COLUMN: Permanently scarred or temporarily paranoid

Covid has changed my view on socializing

Wild rabbits are all over Chilliwack, but people often think they’re someone’s lost pet and try to ‘save’ them. But the owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room says good intentions can have bad consequences for wild animals. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room asks people to leave wild animals in the wild

Amber Quiring says people who think they’re helping are actually doing more harm than good

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

John Furlong told the Vancouver Board of Trade on Feb. 20, 2020 that he thinks the city could and should bid for the 2030 Winter Games. (CP photo)
PODCAST: John Furlong lays out a ‘provincial’ plan to host the 2030 Winter Olympics

Podcast: Chat includes potential role for Vancouver Island communities

The pilot of this single-engine propeller plane was unhurt after crash-landing in a Como Road orchard Friday, June 18. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Plane crash lands into Grand Forks orchard, pilot injured

RCMP have secured the crash site, pending investigation by Transport Canada

BC Ferries’ newest Island Class vessel is experiencing an issue with one of its thrusters off the Algerian coast. Photo courtesy patbaywebcam.com.
BC Ferries newest vessel having mechanical issues in Mediterranean

Island 4 will be repaired in Spain before crossing Atlantic

Thousands of protesters make their way through the downtown core during a Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa, Friday June 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
MPs’ study of systemic racism in policing concludes RCMP needs new model

Chair of the House public safety committee says it’s time for a reckoning on ‘quasi-military’ structure

A case filled with packages of boneless chicken breasts is shown in a grocery store Sunday, May 10, 2020, in southeast Denver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-David Zalubowski
One million chickens euthanized during labour dispute at Quebec slaughterhouse

Premier says waste amounts to 13 per cent of the province’s chicken production thrown in the garbage

Premier of Manitoba Brian Pallister speaks at a news conference at the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Lipnowski
Provincial leaders want more federal money for health care, plan to meet in fall

Premiers ask Ottawa to increase its share of overall health spending to 35 per cent from 22 per cent

A section of the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies is seen west of Cochrane, Alta., Thursday, June 17, 2021. A joint federal-provincial review has denied an application for an open-pit coal mine in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, saying its impacts on the environment and Indigenous rights aren’t worth the economic benefits it would bring. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Panel says Grassy Mountain coal mine in Alberta Rockies not in public interest

Public hearings on the project in southern Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass region were held last fall

Most Read