The arrival of summer is not only welcome by sun worshipers looking to add a little bronze to their skin, it came just in time for local farmers who make a living off of blueberries.
Sid and Jo-Ann Kwantes took over the Gaskin Farms in Port Coquitlam a couple years ago from within the family.
The 182-acre blueberry farm yields about 675,000 kilograms of the tasty berries a year, mostly for processing plants that send the product overseas.
It's not an easy way to eek out a living, but it was shaping up to be an even tougher year at the end of June, when the weather was more like late winter than summer.
"You can be the best farmer in the world, but weather can play havoc and you have no control over it," Jo-Ann told The NOW.
The problem wasn't so much the cold weather, but the rain, she said. Too much of the wet stuff is bad for the blueberries, and can cause them to rot.
And fruit rot can be devastating to a crop. Adding to the mounting concern for the season was the potential for floods.
If the Pitt River had flooded, the farm would have been under 2.5 metres of water.
Fortunately for Gaskin Farms and the other blueberry growers in the Tri-Cities, there was no flood, and the hot dry weather showed up just in time. This week, the berries will start to be picked at the farm and the Kwantes' are now expecting a decent season.
"What we see today looks promising," Jo-Ann said, adding however, it can't be counted on until the berries are picked.
The picking season at the farm lasts about six to seven weeks. A good season is also being welcomed, as the family intends to offer more farm gate sales for their blueberries.
Taking a glance at the weather numbers from June in Vancouver, it's no wonder there was some concern from farmers.
June rainfall totalled 76.8 mm - 40 per cent more than average - while sunshine was significantly down at 157 hours - 68 per cent under the average.
The average daytime high of 17.8 C was also below the usual June average of 19.2 C.
It's also shaping up to be a reasonable season for Norman Skinner and his small blueberry farm Granny Frannys. It wasn't the rain that worried Skinner, who has run a 1.5-acre farm primarily as a hobby for 30 years, selling the berries out his front door.
"You need heat," he said. "The rain didn't hurt it, it's in the ground - it's in the bank."
But with the arrival of heat, Skinner expects to start picking his blueberries from his Port Coquitlam property by the third week of July. The harvest will keep the hobby farmer busy throughout the summer.
Back at Gaskin Farms, the weather may be co-operating, but that doesn't mean bears that roam nearby Minnekhada Park will do the same.
Sid Kwantes said the bears tend to be a bigger problem for the farm than the weather.
It's not so much the bruins feasting on crop, but rather the animals tend to be very destructive when attempting to get to the berries.
He noted the bears often damage the bushes, which can be very expensive to replace.
The Kwantes have put an electrical fence around the property, but foraging bears find a way past the barriers.
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