Miserable weather  delays local produce

While strawberry picking has begun at Rennie’s U-Pick in Alma, it’s being done only by staff right now. Owner Allan Rennie says cool and rainy weather has caused delays in the growing season.       Jillian Trainor photo

The cool, wet weather that rang in summer has not only caused delays in getting to the beach, it’s also caused a delay in the growing season for local farmers.

Webb’s Vegetables in O’Leary normally opens in mid-July, but will likely be opening closer to the end of the month instead.

“We were late planting, it was cold, wet weather, things weren’t ripening the way they should,” said Trevor Webb, owner and operator of Webb’s Vegetables. “Things like beans really need the heat to drive them. You don’t get anything until the really warm days, and we’re not really getting that just yet.”

Mr Webb said the cooler, wet weather has also caused some issues germinating cucumbers. He has had to replant some of the seeds as a result.

It’s a similar situation at Rennie’s U-Pick in Alma.

Usually the business opens at the start of July, and while he has started picking strawberries, the U-Pick itself isn’t yet open.

Mr Rennie said when weather is like this at the start of the season, the strawberry plants don’t grow and develop buds. As a result, they’re less likely to ripen later on.

This is the second year in a row the U-Pick will be delayed. Because of an unexpected frost at the beginning of June 2018, the early variety of strawberries were damaged. Mr Rennie estimates his crop last year was down by about 30 to 40 per cent as a result.

While there was frost at the beginning of the season, the summer of 2018 proved to be very hot and very dry.

“I don’t think the hot, dry (weather) hurt us last year,” said Mr Rennie. “Things were pretty well established, and there was enough moisture in the ground to carry strawberries through.”

Mr Rennie thinks this season should be at least on par with what it was last year, and is confident it will be a decent year.

It’s hard to say whether the growing season for farmers will be as difficult as it was last year. Because of the lack of rain, products were smaller both in size and numbers.

The hope is this season will prove to be better than last year’s.

“Some things like the heat, corn likes the heat, and beans do well, but the longer season crops would certainly suffer,” concluded Mr Webb. “If we get the heat now, I’m sure everything will be fine, it will catch up. We have a little more moisture than we did last year, so that should help.”

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