MARKET REPORT – JUNE 15TH, 2016
Cherry growers are watching nervously how much rain is going to affect their crops
Going back 5 or 6 years, we eagerly awaited cherry season –which historically started at the end of June or the first couple of days of July. For the growers, they hated June – what used to be called ‘hail month’.
The West Coast’s normally rainy June sent weather systems over the mountains to the Similkameen and Okanagan, where hot temperatures turned those remnant clouds into thunderstorms. Once that pattern had ended, they were blessed with 60 days of dry, hot weather – perfect for cherries, cots, peaches and early apples. Then, 4 years ago, as weather patterns really started to shift, we experienced 17 days in July in the BC Interior where there were severe weather warnings posted, heavy rain, hail and thunderstorms, and all fruit crops were in jeopardy and 30% of the crop was lost to rain or hail. Last year, the entire fruit season started 2 weeks early, with virtually no stormy days in June, July or August, and it was a picture-perfect growing season. This year we are in yet another new paradigm, where the fruit crops are earlier again – 3 to 4 weeks faster than 10 years ago, but we’re experiencing what we used to call a normal June.
All eyes are on the radar today and tomorrow as rains continue to literally pound the Lower Mainland, and watches for thunderstorms and hail are in the forecast again for the Southern Interior. Top that off with unseasonably cold temperatures. Snow is forecast for the mountain passes above 1700 meters, and nighttime temperatures are hovering just 5 or 6C above freezing across the Similkameen and Okanagan, close to freezing in the mountain passes, and forecasted to stay that way through the next 4-5 days.
To show you how out of whack things are, our price list report from June 21, 2012 said “B.C. START DATES ARE UNKNOWN – WE’RE KIND OF WAITING FOR SUMMER TO ARRIVE WITH GLOOMY DAYS EXPECTED IN THE LOWER MAINLAND AND SUN FOR THE INTERIOR, BUT VERY COOL FOR LATE JUNE. WE’RE LOOKING AT 3 – 4 WEEKS FOR BC BLUES AT THIS POINT,” pointing to first arrivals from local blueberry fields at mid-July, 5 weeks later than this current record breaking early start. Maybe this is what happens when you give plants air that has 40% more carbon dioxide than it used to have. Greenhouse growers often pump CO2 into greenhouses to get more production, so I know it makes sense that our atmosphere is now Carbon Dioxide Enhanced and every species of plant is reacting to that change. That’s my guess and I’m open to suggestion.
Cherry growers are watching nervously to see how much rain damage is going to affect the Van and Lambert crops – later varieties are too small to get any rain-splitting. Blueberry growers in the Fraser Valley are off to a rough start. They started the harvest of early-season Duke’s just a few days ago, invigorated by hot 30C days just over a week ago, and now harvests are on hold, and when this cold, wet pattern breaks in a couple of days, soft and swollen berries will be cleaned off and go to processing. For you, that means a potential gap on fresh-pick cherries and a good chance of shorts on blueberries in the last ½ of the week.
Now that El Nino has been declared DOA, forecasters are looking back at the weather event that didn’t materialize for California and are now eating their poorly spoken forecasts made in late 2015. Anyone who prognosticated a copiously wet winter and spring for California, based on historic El Nino patterns, without knowing how that would play out in a new era of changed global weather should have expected that they would be wrong. And the rain? Well, California did have some rain, and more than the last few years, but still only about ½ of normal. The only hope of recovery is that the same forecasters who blew it on El Nino will also blow it on La Nina, the weather pattern in the equatorial Pacific that normally follows El Nino, and that historically keeps California dryer than normal. Maybe that will change as well – we can only hope.