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Farmers hope for dry fall

Aug 21 2012

After a wet spring that hindered crop growth, local farmers are hoping dry weather will continue into fall so root vegetable have a chance to ripen.

"Now we really need an extended fall, a little bit longer than normal," said Vern Michell, a farmer in Central Saanich. A longer fall will give farmers a chance to harvest crops such as carrots, he said, adding if fields get flooded, these vegetables will quickly rot. It's also difficult to use farm equipment in flooded fields, said Michell, whose pumpkins are behind schedule.

"We're hoping they'll be orange by the end of October," he said with a laugh.

"If we get nice dry weather, those pumpkins will turn orange and get much bigger."

Michell said wet weather delayed crop growth at first, but conditions improved midsummer.

Murray Sluggett, a farmer in Brentwood Bay, said this year has been a struggle. "The strawberries were poor; we opened the corn a little late," he said, although with recent hot weather, crops sprung to life.

Central Saanich farmer Jack Mar says he has a few ripe sugar pumpkins, but the butternut squash on his 12-hectare property in Central Saanich is "green as grass." "Normally, they're ripe by Labour Day. It'll be later [this year]."

At Michell's farm, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower and berries are being harvested. Quality of the produce wasn't affected by this year's conditions, Michell said, adding growing hay was difficult but the situation turned around. "I'm sure that nature is going to bring us some good weather." cclancy@timescolonist.com