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Canada ‘Some fields will not be harvestable’: Over 50 per cent of N.S. blueberry crops lost to frost

15:05  14 june  2018
15:05  14 june  2018 Source:

'Killer' frost damages crops across Maritimes

  'Killer' frost damages crops across Maritimes An unusual "killer" frost has caused widespread damage to crops in the Maritimes, with everything from Nova Scotian wine grapes to Island asparagus harmed by a sharp plunge in spring temperatures. Farmers were beginning to assess the toll from the June cold front that hit Monday, as word came from Environment Canada of yet another frost advisory for early Thursday in all of Atlantic Canada. "It's the beginning of the year and it's a bad time for Farmers were beginning to assess the toll from the June cold front that hit Monday, as word came from Environment Canada of yet another frost advisory for early Thursday in all of Atlantic Canada.

Some berries may be left on the vines as a result; the Passamaquoddy Wild Blueberry Company in America it grows in great swaths of commercially harvestable land only in Maine – that it Newly cleared fields in Quebec led to a 126 million pound yield in 2016, a more than 50 percent increase.

Usually queens are not numerous, although some small blueberry fields that are not managed intensively in Maine have more than berries is less than percent fruit set…it is the proportion of berries remaining after June drop, or those fruit that will most likely mature into a harvestable crop .

a close up of a flower: The blueberry industry in Nova Scotia is an important economical driver. The recent frost is expected to cost producers millions.© Natasha Pace/Global News The blueberry industry in Nova Scotia is an important economical driver. The recent frost is expected to cost producers millions.

The Nova Scotia wild blueberry industry has been hit hard by recent adverse weather conditions, and officials expect this year's harvest will produce less than half of what it typically would.

"Overall in the province, we estimate that crop loss this year is probably in the range of 50 to 60 per cent of the crop, depending on crop conditions for the rest of the summer," said Peter Rideout, executive director of the Wild Blueberry Producers Association of Nova Scotia.

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They require pollination to ensure that flowers present at bloom turn into large, harvestable berries later in the season. Placement near to the blueberry field can also help to keep them focused on the crop . Still, some cultivars, notably Jersey, have low attractiveness, and bees may still fly over this

Blueberries require moist but well-drained acidic soil. Choose a frost -free, level or gently sloping site in full sun with good air circulation. Fruit loss may be well over 50 percent of the crop and is generally more severe in smaller plantings or in more wooded locations.

"Some fields will not be harvestable, in terms of the amount of crop that's there."

READ: Nova Scotia farms facing potentially devastating crop loss due to frost

For the last three weeks, farmers from one end of the province to the other have been hit multiple times with frost. Before the cool weather struck, farmers were optimistic about this year's blueberry harvest.

"We had a couple of years of very serious losses due to low market conditions. This year was looking fairly optimistic and we were cautiously optimistic about the outlook and now of course, this is a serious setbacks for the farms and the farm families, and the people they employ," said Rideout."

READ: Canada’s next great wine region: Nova Scotia

Dr. David Percival, a Dalhousie University professor who specialized in plant physiology, helped examine blueberry fields across Nova Scotia to assess the damage. He found "extensive damage" to crops, especially in northern Nova Scotia, where more than 60 per cent of wild blueberries are produced.

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He says he has lost more than 90 percent of his apple crop . April 13 Huge Crop Losses in Portugal Due to Frost and Drought. April 12 Frosts Damages Up to 90 Percent of Indiana Blueberry Crops . The overnight lows left some blueberry farms with plenty of damage during a season that had been

At least 25 percent of which we would like to cultivate high $ yield crops . We would prefer items that will be harvestable with in 5 years of planting. Some options: aronia berries - it' s one of the best antioxidant sources out there, tops blueberries and acai.

"What we're seeing is, the flowers themselves, even though they were pollinated are not going to turn into a viable berry because of the frost event," he told Global News.

Percival says in some areas, the temperature over the last few weeks has dropped below -4 degrees, which has damaged the flowers.

Blueberry fields are only harvested once every two years, so some of the damaged fields may not be able to yield a crop until 2020.

"When you're in a field, what you see is what you have to work with. There's no backups. That's it," said Percival.

"The flower numbers, a good field 110 to 150 million flowers per acre. When you have this level of damage, the crop is devastated."

The blueberry industry is an important part of the provincial economy, especially in rural Nova Scotia.

"Last year, 2017 for example, wild blueberries in Nova Scotia even in a market downturn of low prices, we had over $65 million dollars in export sales of wild blueberries around the world,"said Rideout.

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This crop is challenging to grow in the Pacific Northwest and very difficult in the rest of the country. The average temperature range is 40 to 50 ° F (4 to 10 C). Frosts are frequent during the growing It the Pacific Northwest, it requires 5 to 10 months to produce a harvestable root and another 10 to 15

In some cases, crop quality is increased, for example when protein production is one of the goals. The researchers surmised that if all residues were left on the field and 50 % of the N content was available to Total plant N is equally distributed between the sugarbeet tops and harvestable roots.

"If our crop is down 50 or 60 per cent then we can simply do the math and say that that's going to have a significant impact on the farms and the other businesses in the industry as well as the rural economy."

READ MORE: Another frost advisory issued across the Maritimes

Barron Blois was hoping that 2018 was going to be a good year for harvesting blueberries and turn things around for farmers. Blois says he spent $400 an acre on his fields so far this year.

"It's going to be certainly a setback and for those growers that only grow blueberries, it's an unbelievable set back," he told Global News.

Blois says his family farm in Gore, N.S. has been in operation for years. Until recently, he didn't think about the impact that frost could have on blueberries - because he had never saw it in six decades.

"My dad started this in 1956 and this would be 62 years this year commercially producing blueberries. We've had little frost from time-to-time that singed them a bit but nothing of this significance," he said.

Rideout says they are currently in talks with both the provincial and federal government as well as other farming industries that have been impacted by recent weather conditions to see if there is any disaster relief available for them.

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