British Columbia’s growers were pelted on November 14 and 15 with history-breaking rainfall in the Fraser Valley and the Lower Mainland. The Abbotsford area was deluged with 152.8 millimetres of rain in the two-day span according to Environment Canada.
This region is one of the most intensively farmed in Canada. While media headlines underscored the disaster for dairy and chicken farmers, horticultural producers are also affected in both the short term and long term.
Carrots and cole crops such as cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and broccoli are under water according to Andre Solymosi, general manager, BC Vegetable Marketing Commission, responding November 19 to The Grower.
“Storage facilities, barns, etc are flooded,” he says. “Potatoes are piled and cabbage is typically stored in cardboard totes. So the flood waters will impact the product in storage.”
The majority or possibly all of these farms in the eastern Sumas Prairie area are affected where the flood waters continue to rise due to the breaches in the dike, Solymosi explained.
Headquartered in Abbotsford, the BC Blueberry Council reported there will be some impact on post-harvest activities, but generally the main concern is plant health. If fields remain flooded longer than four days, significant damage to the roots can set in. As blueberries are a perennial plant, any damage to the root could lead to various issues, including plant death.
With extreme weather events stacked on top of labour shortages, the blueberry industry continues to face stiff winds. All of these lead to less than optimal volumes in production. In 2019, BC blueberry volume was pegged at 200 million pounds. This total dropped by about 20 million pounds in 2020 and nearly 50 million pounds in 2021 due to the June 2021 heat dome. The BC Blueberry Council will be looking for provincial relief measures, reminding the government that the berry industry is a defining characteristic of the province.