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AUGUST 2019 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC


Bumper crop for raspberries fails


to materialize Winter kill, rain and a shortage of pickers all factors


by RONDA PAYNE ABBOTSFORD—Raspberry


growers are facing more than just lower yields this year. An early blueberry harvest is overlapping with mid-season raspberries and that is taxing resources, compounding the crop shortfall. Raspberry Industry


Development Council chair James Bergen says although less than 10% of growers hand-pick fresh raspberries, competition may still exist for pickers. He hasn’t heard growers speculate about a shortage of pickers but says there is certainly potential for this to occur given that blueberries are easier to hand harvest.


“Definitely, it’s harder in raspberries and blackberries versus blueberries,” agrees Alf Krause of Krause Berry Farms and Estate Winery. “Everyone wants to pick blueberries ... you know that there’s a lot more blueberries out there than there used to be.” While Krause has enough


pickers for his raspberries, he says it is “just enough.” The weather hasn’t been as hot and dry as the last three seasons and that has resulted in unusual pollination, according to Krause, causing a greater overlap between raspberries and blueberries. “Blueberries have started sooner and the mid-season raspberries seem to be delayed,” Krause explains. That could create issues for


machine-harvested berries at the processors.


Amrit Brar of KN Berry


Farms machine-harvests, but is disappointed with the season so far. “It should have been a bumper crop, but it’s not,” he says. “Winter damage plays a big role.” Growers are expecting to


harvest just 70% of last year’s crop StatsCan pegged at 8,227 tons. Rain during this year’s


harvest has caused some mushy berries, something berry researcher Michael Dossett hopes to counter. At the annual berry field day, July 11, he said the emphasis for raspberry breeding is on machine-harvestability. Once 80% to 90% of varieties reach the necessary firmness, the program will turn to other traits.


“Research is such a long- term thing,” he reminded growers. “Especially if you’re seven years in and the funding stops.” He expressed appreciation


of recently announced berry research funding. “There needs to be more


research done and more money to research,” acknowledged BC agriculture minister Lana Popham who attended the field day at the berry research station in Clearbrook.


19


Berry researcher Michael Dossett is excited about a new variety of raspberry (1613-43) which he describes as huge. He spoke to growers at their annual field day in Clearbrook in July. RONDA PAYNE PHOTO


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