“It looks like… I’m not sure if any of your listeners have ever heard of the movie, Dune: Desert Planet…”
University of the Fraser Valley agriculture expert Tom Baumann describes the dust clouds over Fraser Valley potato fields. There’s a note of worry in his voice.
While all eyes have been on the wildfires chewing through B.C.’s forests, Lower Mainland farmers are dealing with a crisis of their own.
“On a scale of zero to 10, I think we’re at 11 about the worry. It’s an extreme situation.”
Baumann also runs a research farm, and says B.C. has never recorded a growing season like this.
“Nobody has any records that would beat this season. We’ve had heat before. We’ve had windstorms, we’ve had drought. But this is just going so incredibly long…”
He says non stop hot weather that began in April is running aquifers dry – and letting soil blow from farmer’s fields.
And he says crop failures have meant a spike in claims to government farm insurance. He estimates some raspberry farms were hit with 10-80% losses.
“We’ve got at least 50% of the farms insured, but with the other 50%, I’m not sure how they’re going to be coping with that. Nobody predicted this.”
Baumann says Fraser Valley farmers are adaptable if anything. And he has faith the industry will pull through – but eyes are already turning to next year.
Updated July 12