Crops in the Creston Valley are experiencing stunted growth and sun damage in this summer’s record-breaking heat, leaving many fruits and vegetables unpicked.
Kiran Sandhu, owner of Marar Orchard, said this year’s conditions have been unprecedented, as much of her cherry crop has been destroyed before being picked.
“I’ve never seen this in my whole life of farming. I’ve never left the fruit on the tree,” said Sandhu. “We are doing every possible thing to save our crop, but we can’t do anything with this heat.”
Just 15 days after Sandhu believed this year was going to produce a good harvest, about 75% of the crops in the Creston Valley have failed.
A similar problem has been seen with vegetable crops.
“This has not only happened to the cherries this year. We planted 20 acres of veggies and all of my cauliflower is bitter and we are just mowing them. Same with all of my peas and beans. You can go to my stand, it’s empty because we can’t make anything,” explained Sandhu.
Marar Orchard’s strawberries have also burned in the heat of this year’s summer.
“It’s devastating when you’re losing 100% of your crop, and to have a good-looking cherry that’s not even worth picking is awful,” said Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison. “There’s nothing they could have done. It’s not like there’s something they could have sprayed or something they could do differently with the trees, it’s just what happened. A lot of them are going to lose their farms, and they need financial assistance now.”
Sandhu said the damage done to this year’s crop has put an emotional and financial strain on her and other farmers in the region.
“Every night, we almost cry because this is really bad for everybody. How are they going to feed their family, how are they going to pay their expenses? It’s too hard,” said Sandhu.
Lana Popham, B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture, is putting together a roundtable discussion with farmers to talk about this year’s crop issues.
“With climate change, the risks of this happening in the future are even greater. We need to step up and make sure we are supporting these farmers. I know the minister is acutely aware of this situation and will be wanting to work with the farmers to do what we can to support them” said Nelson-Creston MLA Brittny Anderson.
Morrison said he will be reaching out to the federal Agriculture Minister to draw the ministry’s attention to the Creston Valley.