Beach bums aren't the only ones enjoying the prolonged sun and dry spell in Metro Vancouver; it's been good for the local blueberry crop too.
Sid Kwantes, the owner of Gaskin Farms in Coquitlam, said his crop was ready to be picked a few weeks early this season, and if the weather holds, it will turn out to be better than last year.
"It looks like a good season. The blueberries are nice, they've ripened up nice," he told the Tri-Cities NOW.
Normally, the farm would start picking the berries in August through to September, but the process began a few weeks early and will end early too.
The 182-acre blueberry farm on Oliver Road yields about 675,000 kilograms, or 1 million pounds, of the berries a year, mostly for processing plants that send the product overseas. Kwantes noted the blueberry haul would be less this year, adding the numbers can fluctuate year-to-year.
The optimal condition for blueberries to grow
is a mix of little rain or extreme heat.
This summer's weather has provided the perfect ingredients for the blueberry recipe. It's been 25 days and counting since the last drop of measurable rain through much of the Lower Mainland, and that's not expected to change in the near future.
It's a far cry from last year, especially in June, when there was far more rain than sun, and farmers like Kwantes were wondering if the crop would be a disaster.
June 2012 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.
In the end, the sun did come and the crop turned out pretty well.
Though the weather has cooperated this year, Kwantes, who sits on the board of directors for the BC Blueberry Council, explained the market for blueberries has gone the other way.
He noted blueberry prices this year have been down, adding the whole industry is struggling.
In the case of Gaskin Farms, the operation has expanded it's farm-gate sales to help turn a profit.
"That's the key to keeping us going," Kwantes said, adding
the farm is seeing more and more people coming to its doors to get their fill of blueberries.
He's urging people to buy local produce and check
where their fruits and vegetables are coming from when they're at the grocery store.
"Just make sure it's local B.C. produce you're purchasing," Kwantes said.
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