With bud break underway, grape growers are finding that preliminary estimates of severe damage from an extreme cold weather event in late December are accurate.
“Preliminary anecdotal reports indicate that our vintage 2023 winter damage modeling of a 50% crop decline is being realized,” a newsletter from industry association Wine Growers BC reported this week.
But since “anecdotes” is not a synonym of “data,” Wine Growers BC is asking growers to participate in an industry survey that will help firm up estimates based on what’s happening in vineyards this season.
“While we have advised the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food of the situation, we need a better analysis of the actual impact of this winter’s freeze event,” says Wine Growers BC president and CEO Miles Prodan. “Help us quantify the damage to back up our discussions with government for potential support.”
The province has received nearly 425 claims for yield and vine loss from nearly 200 policies as a result of the December freeze event. Besides production insurance, the province will welcome applications to its new perennial crop replant program from growers seeking to renew damaged blocks.
The survey is being conducted by Cascadia Partners, which last year prepared a report for the BC Vineyard Resiliency Task Group that pinned the persistence of short crops on more variable and extreme weather systems associated with a changing climate.
The current survey also includes an opportunity for growers to provide feedback on the existing business risk management programs provided to cover growers affected by unexpected financial shortfalls.
The feedback will help Wine Growers BC advocate for better, more responsive support programs to address the needs of producers and support overall food security in the province.