Strawberry picker Gurman Dhillon searches for ripe strawberries amongst numerous green undersized berries at a field owned by Surrey Farms near King George Blvd and Colebrook Road.

Cold wet spring was one to forget in Metro Vancouver

Berry growers, garden centres feel the pain from chilly, damp weather

Good riddance to a stingy, soggy spring.

That’s what sun worshippers, farmers and garden centre operators are all saying after months of unseasonably cool weather.

The strawberry harvest is finally getting underway but it’s at least 10 days behind schedule, making it the latest start in 30 years.

“Normally you can expect a booming harvest by Father’s Day,” said Sharmin Gamiet, manager of the Fraser Valley Strawberry Growers’ Association.

“But it’s been cold and it’s been wet. It has been a challenging season.”

The delay has made farmers nervous – many lost crops last fall when heavy rains kept them from getting their root vegetables out of the ground.

But Gamiet said the strawberry crop should be good provided plants don’t get shocked by hot weather too quickly.

Leanne Johnson, the chief operating officer for GardenWorks, said all garden centres have been hard hit by the dismal planting weather.

“It’s been the coldest wettest spring in 55 years,” she said.

It was so cold and wet early in the spring few people wanted to think about planting, she said.

And later on, the Vancouver Canucks playoff run began to compete for attention, keeping would-be gardeners’ eyes on their TVs and their hands out of the soil.

“It’s been really tough,” Johnson said, predicting many gardeners simply won’t spend as much this year.

“A lot of people are resigned to it being a lousy spring and they’re just not going to put the same kind of effort in as usual.”

Environment Canada meteorologist David Jones said Metro Vancouver got 95 millimetres of rain in April and 92 mm in May – that’s about 25 per cent more overall than the averages of 84 mm for a typical April and 68 mm for May.

“It was cloudier, wetter and a lot cooler for two solid months,” he said. “April and May were very cold.”

Much of the Fraser Valley even got snow on April 14.

But he said Metro residents who think it’s stayed bad this month are stuck in the past.

“Since June started it’s been not bad,” Jones said, calling it near-average with temperatures running only very slightly below normal.

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