Unseasonably early daffodils prompt wish for cold weather on B.C. farm

Longview Farms just north of Victoria says mild weather a problem for seasonal farming

As residents in parts of B.C. dig out from recent heavy snowfalls and think fondly of spring, a farmer on southern Vancouver Island is cursing that region’s mild weather and wishing for a cold snap.

Ryan Vantreight is the general manager of Longview Farms, Canada’s largest daffodil farm, just north of Victoria.

Spring-like conditions have coaxed out some early blooms, and Vantreight said he’s scrambling to hire about 20 workers to cut the still-budding flowers before they burst into their full golden glory.

“If you see yellow in the field, I’m seeing red,” Vantreight said of the early season, which he describes as second only to a harvest several years ago that began in January.

READ MORE: Central Saanich’s Longview Farms clearing the horizon

“Cold is good for us right now because it will slow things down,” he said. “What it does do is give us a little bit more even growth and gives us a little bit more chance to get them before they pop.”

“Once they bloom, they are gone. We can’t sell them,” Vantreight said, adding customers want tight heads and tight bunches so the daffodils open in arrangements at home.

“It’s always a race beyond time to try to get the flowers before they bloom and before they become unsellable.”

The farm has more than 28 hectares of land devoted to growing and exporting at least three million daffodils, Vantreight said.

While he’s looking for 20 pickers are right away, more than 150 will be needed by the height of the season, he said.

The farm sends its blooms across North America, and markets include the American Cancer Society’s Daffodil Days campaign, held in March.

The Canadian Press

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