April 22, 2016 - 8:00 PM
OKANAGAN – After a week of June-like weather across the Okanagan, local farmers are preparing for one of the longest growing seasons on record.
Last year, Tony Cetinski of Suncatcher Farm on Benvoulin Road said 2015 had one of the earliest springs he could remember. It was May 21 when he said his plants were "two or three weeks" ahead of the year before.
“It seems to be getting a little earlier every year,” he says. “Ten years ago I wouldn’t have put some things out until early May and we’ve had them out for a few weeks already. I don’t see a negative to it.”
The local owner of a Kelowna grocery store doesn’t see a downside for Okanagan consumers either.
Chris Holmes at Quality Greens says he buys local whenever he can and an earlier spring means local food will be available in grocery stores and restaurants sooner, at a cheaper price.
“Local prices are a little bit lower than U.S. prices but not a lot and that’s generally what happens,” he said last year. “Local farmers will follow California closely and they will be sometimes $3 to $4 cheaper per case than the California product.”
Cetinski is hopeful more sun will equal more growth, which would also mean lower overall prices for the consumer.
“We’ve seen so much more sunshine already,” he says. “Last year was good but you can have a good early season and a bad later season. But an earlier spring always pushes everything ahead.”
While it's tempting to blame global warming for the trend, Cetinski says the old timers tell him it's part of a normal cycle.
"These guys who have been farming 60 years say this comes along every once in a while. It won't last forever."
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