Weather fluctuations are a fact of life for farmers and food producers, but the unusual weather this year is a significant concern.
The past winter in Summerland has been characterized by unusual weather events, including heavy snowfalls in November and January, followed by rapid melting in February.
Now, following the recent mild weather, fruit blossoms have appeared in Summerland roughly three weeks earlier than usual.
The early blossoms could affect the crops for orchardists in the area, especially if the area receives winter conditions later this month, as was the case in late April, 2008.
Such conditions could reduce or wipe out the fruit from trees already in blossom. This would have effects far beyond the local farming community.
The unusual weather conditions are not limited to this area.
Other regions of North America are also experiencing conditions which could affect agriculture and food production.
Ontario, eastern Canada and the eastern United States have experienced heavy snowfall and prolonged winter conditions.
California is coping with one of the most severe droughts in that state’s history.
While weather fluctuations are a fact of life for farmers and producers, this year’s conditions could have significant effects.
Any one of these conditions is cause for concern. Several at once, as is happening this year, could affect food consumers.
In recent years, concerns have been raised in Summerland about the importance of local agriculture, food security and a reliable food supply.
These topics deserve further discussion and consideration by all of us, not just the agricultural community.
What happens to food production here and elsewhere will affect us all.