Thursday, September 04, 2014

Strange season means blueberry growers facing quotas

Blueberries across Maritimes ready for harvest at same time, creating processing crunch

By Angela Walker, CBC News Posted: Sep 04, 2014 2:22 PM AT Last Updated: Sep 04, 2014 2:22 PM AT
Blueberry growers are facing limits on how much of their crop they can take to the Jasper Wyman and Son processing plant in Morell, says the chair of the P.E.I. Wild Blueberry Growers Association.
David MacNearney said blueberry crops across the region have ripened at the same time, meaning there are too many berries coming in at once for processing.   

MacNearney said growers thought with the expansion at the plant in Morell this year there would be no problems with processing.

"Usually Maine starts harvesting and then a week or two after that, it would be New Brunswick and a week or two after that it would be Nova Scotia, and P.E.I. would follow with maybe a week or two after that," said MacNearney.

"This year it's everyone,  they are still harvesting in Maine."  

He said the quota is based on each individual grower's harvesting capacity. In addition to the quotas growers have been told to only harvest for eight hours a day instead of the usual 12.

MacNearney said growers certainly understand the situation and that it has been a very unusual growing season. The quota applies to Wyman's fields as well, he said, so everyone is being treated the same.

Company officials told CBC News they only have about half of their own crop harvested at this point.

MacNearney hopes growers will be able to get all the berries harvested and processed before any deep frost.

Late blight strain concern for Prince Edward Island potato farmers

Gary Linkletter, chair of the P.E.I. potato board, calls this strain of blight aggressive

CBC News Posted: Sep 03, 2014 6:44 PM AT Last Updated: Sep 03, 2014 6:44 PM AT
The number of cases of a devastating potato fungus continues to grow on Prince Edward Island.
So far, 13 cases of late blight have been confirmed in some potato fields in Freetown, Breadalbane, Summerside, Spring Valley, Wilmot Valley, New Haven, Knutsford and Kensington. It has also been confirmed in tomato plants in the Charlottetown and Brookfield areas.
Late blight is a serious fungus that can affect a number of crops, but potatoes and tomatoes in particular.
Gary Linkletter is chair of the P.E.I. potato board and calls this strain of blight an aggressive one.
“The windy, damp weather has been great for blight conditions so there is a bit more than we like to see,” he said. “I would think there's been quite a few more cases. I know we reported our first one to the lab here on our farm and we've had two or three other fields show up since then.”
Producers see costs impact bottom line
Linkletter said extra measures are needed to deal with late blight, such as using more expensive sprays, increasing the spray schedule and top killing areas affected. That’s bad news for producers who will see those costs impacted on their bottom line.
Late blight was a factor in the Irish potato famine in the 1850s and can survive from season to season. Linkletter says it’s a major concern.
“There is no cure for blight,” he explained. “All we can do is try to control it. Both for tomatoes and home gardens and potatoes in commercial potato fields, so it's a serious problem for the rest of the season.”