Island farmers say hot weather a welcome relief for challenging growing season


Dan Ponchet, who owns Dan’s Farm and Country Market in Central Saanich, says crops like sweet potatoes and pickling cucumbers are loving the Island’s hot weather this summer. But like nearly everything this year, harvests may come later than usual due thanks to a cold and wet spring.

“It didn’t matter what it was it was delayed this year from the very first planting,” he said.

It’s made for a challenging year for farmers with the ripple effects expected to last into fall.

“Squash, pumpkins I don’t think are going to be as big a crop or as big a size,” Ponchet said.

After a spring that broke records for its cool temperatures and heavy amounts of rain, it’s now hot weather making headlines.

READ MORE: Heat warning issued for east Vancouver Island

“It was a late start to summer but really once summer got going it’s been consistently warm and dry for Vancouver Island,” said Bobby Sekhon, a meterologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Victoria usually only sees temperatures above 30 degrees two days per year but this year, so far, there has been double that. And in Nanaimo, it’s usually seven days a year while this year there have already been 11 days above 30 degrees. With heat warnings now in effect that’s expected to climb even higher.

And things aren’t cooling off at night either, 19 records have been broken this month in nine different Island communities for overnight lows, with the warmest night recorded in the Malahat area on August 18 at 21.5 degrees.

The heat has been some desperately needed good news for farmers, like Clayton Fox, who grow crops that love it.

“The corn needed it, the corn likes weather like that so it’s been really good,” said Fox, farm manager for Silver Rill Corn. “We probably had the worst spring that we’ve seen, it took a long time actually to warm up and get things caught up.”

But it’s also been dry. Only one mm of rain has been recorded in Victoria so far this August, when usually the month will see a total of 24 mm.

That’s been just one more challenge for farmer’s to tackle this year though most are prepared.

“The watering is something we’re used to doing and having to do lots of it, so it’s just a matter of being prepared,” said Fox.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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