British Columbia blueberry industry severely impacted by recent floods

From Fresh Plaza | 2 December 2021

Overview of blueberries from British Columbia in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on November 30, 2021. 

Some portions of the Matsqui Flats area were also completely submerged for a period of time, and other areas near the Fraser River remain flooded to a lesser extent. Growers in less flooded areas where the water drained after five to six days and was 2-3’ deep will possibly have a chance to recover their fields.

In the Sumas Prairie region, some growers report there is up to seven to eight feet of water in fields and are concerned about the long-term impact, especially due to debris and other possible issues arising from plants being submerged for an extended period.

“There is a strong possibility that severely impacted growers will need to pull out their plants and replant them, which could be a large financial expense,” says Harry Sidhu, whose family farms in Sumas Prairie. “Blueberries are a perennial plant and it takes years for a sizeable crop yield, so this may be a significant loss of income for many years.”

This is still an active and evolving situation. Currently, the Council is identifying severely impacted growers and finding ways to assist them.

“Damage to fields will need to be reassessed once the water recedes,” says Jason Smith, BC Blueberry Council Chair. Smith also says the vast majority of the growing region is not impacted and there is no short or long-term impact for consumers of blueberries.

The last few years have been challenging for the BC blueberry industry, due to unpredictable weather events and pollination challenges which led to less-than-optimal volumes in production. In 2019, the crop volume was around 200 million pounds. It dropped by approximately 20 million pounds in 2020 and by nearly 50 million pounds in 2021.

Volumes (in Lb) of blueberries from Canada in the US Market
chart 67

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

To overcome some of these challenges, impacted blueberry growers need assistance. The blueberry industry is a defining characteristic of British Columbia, and the livelihood of many families, thus the BC Blueberry Council is asking for its flood impacted members to be fully included in all government relief measures.

The Council has created a resource page outlining available assistance.

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

Access the original article with this (Link)

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