Leona Staples, owner of The Jungle Farm south of Red Deer, points to some ripening strawberries in her field on Tuesday. (Photo by MURRAY CRAWFORD/Advocate staff)

Growing season a mixed bag for Central Alberta producers

The growing season has been a mixed bag throughout Central Alberta, with some producers calling it average to others hurt by the high winds.

Jungle Farms, located south west of Red Deer, opened up its field for strawberry picking on Monday. Owner Leona Staples, hadn’t really thought about the fact a lot of people had Monday off for the Canada Day long weekend and the field was thoroughly picked.

They’ve had to curb strawberry picking until Thursday so more strawberries can ripen.

While she was upbeat about the growing season so far, there’s a bit of a wish list.

“If we could just get some rain, that wasn’t coming in on a slant,” she said.

“I’m seeing colour on cherries, I’m seeing colour on saskatoon berries — saskatoons shouldn’t come on until mid-July. I’ve picked a couple of raspberries.”

In other parts of Central Alberta, the weather has impacted the growing season.

For Mike Koslowski, of Steel Pony Farm just south of Red Deer, the wind from late June and a recent hail storm have affected his crops. Though some of his squash crop was damaged, he remains upbeat about the growing season.

“When I started I thought if I was going to worry about the weather I was in the wrong profession,” he said. “I’m generally pretty resilient.

“I feel like things always recover.”

Cody McIntosh, Red Deer County’s assistant agricultural manager, said the high winds have put their herbicide and pesticide applications programs behind.

“It seems like all of June it has been 30 km/h and above,” he said, adding they have to shut down the application when winds are above 20 to 25 km/h.

“We go from about the beginning of June to about the end of September and when you have a month off of your three-month season, you’re in trouble.”

Further south, Elna Edgar of Edgar farms near Innisfail said they have had a good growing season so far, largely because they were able to get the crop off last year. McIntosh said a number of farmers had a late harvest last year and were still getting it off this spring, which set them back.

mcrawford@reddeeradvocate.com

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