The unusually cold winter hasn’t hit Fraser Valley farmers too hard yet, but the board chair of the B.C. Agriculture Council is concerned for what could happen if it continues any longer.
“Most of the crop farmers aren’t doing anything this time of year. They aren’t doing any tillage at this point,” said Stan Vander Waal, who owns Rainbow Greenhouses in Chilliwack.
“The challenge is just the outright costs.”
He said farmers are having to use three to four times as much heat with temperatures consistently below zero, which is a particular concern for farmers working with older, more drafty buildings.
“That often leads in challenges with keeping the water flowing. Chicken and dairy farmers have to make sure the waterlines aren’t freezing,” Vander Waal said.
He said he is more concerned with the strong winds than the cold itself.
“When we get this extreme cold, we get these strong arctic outflow winds that really test your roofs,” he said.
He said he’s tried to keep glass or plastic on his greenhouse, but it gets weakened in the cold and wind, and one day a chunk of the roof flew off.
The deep freeze isn’t all bad news for Marcel Sachse, who grows everything from cabbage to kale on his farm, Pinch of Soil, in Langley.
“It kills some of the pests that are in the ground that would otherwise be too abundant,” Sachse said.
But he’s still waiting for when the weather warms up.
“We’ll see when the snow is gone how the brussel sprouts and leeks are growing.”