April showers good news for Vancouver Island rivers, forests but challenging for farmers

April showers good news for Vancouver Island rivers, forests but challenging for farmers

WATCH: Above average rainfall in April has created a challenging situation for local farmers. April Lawrence explains.

Hunched over in rain gear and plodding through thick mud, planting strawberries in the pouring rain isn’t ideal for crews at Galey Farms in Saanich.

“The fatigue of walking in this mud compared to walking on level ground, it’s exhausting, it’s just more physical labour than it really needs to be,” said owner Rob Galey.

Some days this month the rain has been so heavy it has forced workers to call it quits early and that is putting planting behind schedule.

“These plants should’ve been in a week ago as you can see we’ve got a ways to go still,” Galey said.

While April is known for its showers, this year has been above normal.

Following a record-dry March that saw only 14 per cent of its typical rainfall, at 51 millimetres April has already surpassed its monthly average, and that doesn’t include Monday’s rain total.

“A few April showers are fine, but no more heavy downpours, it’s hurting us,” said Galey.

But this rain isn’t all bad — at the beginning of the month, the majority of Vancouver Island was at a moderate forest fire danger rating. As of Monday it was almost entirely at low risk.

And a combination of rain and snowmelt is helping fill reservoirs and rivers. For the Cowichan river system, a rising lake level is good news for fish.

“We started at about 28 per cent in the beginning of April and we’re up to about 80 per cent so it’s getting better,” said Parker Jefferson, Co-Chair of the Cowichan Stewardship Roundtable.

“We’ve managed to get our flow up to the minimum that we require for this time of year for emerging fry.”

But there is a lot more rain needed in the months ahead to keep things from getting dangerously low again.

With extreme weather becoming the norm, Rob Galey says he’s been forced to adjust.

“It’s either going to be too hot, too wet, too cold or too windy and I’m ready for everything, I’m not going to be caught off guard anymore,” he said.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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