Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS                                 Ting Wu at Formosa Nursery says a bit of cold is OK for blueberries.

Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS Ting Wu at Formosa Nursery says a bit of cold is OK for blueberries.

Snowy winter, wet spring has blueberries behind a bit

But the weather and crops and conditions can change quickly, say Pitt Meadows growers

It wasn’t only the people of Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge who’ve endured a long, snowy winter and now an almost equally long, cold and rainy spring.

The cool weather has put blueberry plants behind schedule.

Newton Sahota, at TwinBerry Farms in Pitt Meadows, said the crop right now is about a week behind.

“Usually by the mid of March, we’re having buds out. But right now, we’re still waiting because of the cold temperatures,” said Sahota.

The cold and snow started in December and continued for the rest of 2016, followed by a cold January, February and March.

Spring has been cold and wet, as well.

“It all comes down to May – and May will be the tell-all. I’m definitely not disapppointed in what’s out there, but it’s just a matter of, are we going to get enough warm weather,” Sahota said.

If there’s good heat next month, the 163-acre farm on Old Dewdney Trunk Road will be “in good shape.”

The cold weather isn’t all bad, Sahota added.

“The later the season, the more opportunities for us to have better prices in the market.”

He said climate change is bringing the hot weather later in the season and warm temperatures are staying later in the summer.

The farm produces fresh berries for large distributors and retailers.

Ting Wu, at the organic blueberry farm Formosa Nursery on 203rd Street, said it could warm up any time.

“You never know.”

But harvest times change every year.

Wu said his northern high bush blueberries like a little bit of cold.

Mike Wallis, with the B.C. Cranberry Growers Association, said cranberries around the Lower Mainland also are behind.

“Nobody can get out in the field. Everything is so wet. If we haven’t broken the records for March, we’re pretty close.”

Cranberry bushes grow in bogs, “but you still have to have proper drainage. If they’re underwater all the time, they’re not going to thrive.

“You still need sunshine to grow. It’s been ugly so far this year.”

He expects the crop will be a couple weeks behind this year.

Many things can happen in a growing season, he added.

“Things can advance pretty quickly throughout the rest of the year.”

In March, the Environment Canada weather station in Pitt Meadows reported total precipitation of 326 millimetres, with an average monthly high of 9 C and an average low of 3 C.

The average amount of precipitation for March is 209 mm, according to the Weather Network.

Maple Ridge News