Warm, dry winter a concern for farmers

Early buds and frost at night could result in lack of fruit

  • Mar. 11, 2015 5:00 a.m.

Erin Haluschak

Record Staff

While the early spring weather has many Comox Valley residents itching for T-shirts and patios, some farmers in the region are concerned for what the above-normal temperatures will do to their livelihood.

Arzeena Hamir of Amara Farm in Courtenay said while many of her vegetables are about three weeks ahead of schedule, the warm weather brings with it some apprehension.

“We’ve been really busy; we haven’t been able to sit down much since January, which has been nice and we are using the sunshine to heat the greenhouse. We’ve been going to the farmers’ market with greens for about a month now, which is very unusual,” she explained. “But it could be a bad year for certain types of aphids. We rely on the cold winter to control the pests, so we’re monitoring the situation — it is a bit of a worry.”

The warm weather is advancing buds on blueberries as well, with some breaching early and receiving frost at night, a combination which could result in many not bearing fruit, Hamir added.

Along with the warmer weather is the low snowpack on Mount Washington, which Hamir noted is a worry for later this summer.

“Our wells are charged by the runoff from (the mountain), and it is a concern. We try to be very conservative with our water — we use drip irrigation — so it’s a good time for the community as a whole to think about water conservation.”

Environment Canada meteorologist Lisa Coldwells noted there is a good reason Valley residents are feeling the heat —February was the warmest month on record since temperatures have been recorded at the weather station at the Comox Airport.

“The mean temperature for the month recorded since 1953 was 4.3C, and in February it was 7.4 C. It’s quite a record number,” she explained.

The second warmest February recorded was 6.8 C in 1958. While there was only one record-breaking day — Feb. 21 at 13.5 C — Coldwells said all other days in the month were warm which helped keep the average high.

“Overall, it’s been a very warm month due to an existing persistent upper ridge sitting over B.C.,” she explained. “While the ridge itself doesn’t make weather, it protects the region and acts like an umbrella while pushing everything northward.”

Looking ahead, Coldwells explained there are very strong indicators the upper ridge will persist, and the area can expect above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation levels.

“These are not normal temperatures in the wintertime; generally this ridge sits over the area in the summer,” she added.

photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

 

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