Country Life in BC

March 6, 2019

Cold weather raises concerns for crops

by PETER MITHAM

February has gone down in the record books as the coldest on record, particularly in southern BC where the locals typically bask in blossoms and blue skies.

Water on fields in Delta were glazed over last week and frost has Longview Farms on the Saanich Peninsula – the country’s largest daffodil farm – anxious to see how its flowers fared.

Reports are also starting to trickle in of winter losses for beekeepers, but a clear picture won’t be available until later this spring.

The good news is that the cold weather was a bump in the road to a new season for most growers.

Tree fruit and grape growers, for instance, have come close but not seen temperatures that would tend to damage their plants. Growers of field crops also have some time before planting begins.

Consistently chill temperatures also mean that plants didn’t face dramatic shifts in conditions, adding to stress from the cold itself. Indeed, temperatures in the Lower Mainland seldom dipped to less than -5 degrees Celsius, the official threshold for declaring a cold snap. This means February was balmy in the Lower Mainland compared to the winter of 2017, when records fell as temperatures stayed below -5 degrees for more than 33 days.

While indoor operations will see higher heating costs, the arrival of warmer temperatures this week signals a welcome turn towards spring.