July 15, 2005 Features & Images » Feature Story

Pemberton farmers don’t mind the weather 

If you hear any complaining about the cool damp weather and weeks of clouds, it isn’t from Pemberton farmers.

The weather may not be exactly what people picture for the summer months, but so far Pemberton farmers have been reaping the rewards of the cooler weather.

"Last year was so hot that the strawberries pretty much roasted out in the field. This year they are carrying on much longer because they’ve held better, because the weather hasn’t been so hot," said Jordan Sturdy of North Arm Farm.

McEwan’s Farm has also seen an unusually long and productive strawberry season brought on by the abundance of cool, moist weather.

"The crop is much much better (than last year). Nicer berries. More berries," said Allen McEwan. "It (the weather) is much more conducive to growing berries."

The strawberry season usually lasts about four weeks; this year McEwan’s Farm is in its fourth week and showing no signs of slowing down.

"Normally, by the time we get into our fourth week it’s very slim pickings. But, this year we’re into our fourth week now and there’s still good berries to be had and still berries to ripen yet. So who knows how long we’ll go," said McEwan.

And it looks as if people have been taking advantage of the extended strawberry season.

"We’re pleased with the response we’ve had. We could always use more people here but we’ve had good crowds and a good visit with folks as they come through, so it’s been fun," said McEwan.

"The farm’s been doing well," said Sturdy. "There’s lots of people coming because the weather’s so nice. I don’t know the numbers, but it certainly looks like there’s lots of cars in the parking lot all the time."

Strawberries are not the only crop doing well in the cooler weather.

"The raspberries look fabulous. Actually everything does… it all looks really good," said Sturdy. "All the veggies look great because they’ve got nice even moisture. The only detriment at this point I’d say is that the corn is going to be delayed a little bit…"

The increased moisture this year is also an advantage for farmers. "It’s been quite pleasant actually. A little bit of (precipitation) saves me money watering…. It’s nice not to have to water all the time. That’s big work," said Sturdy.

McEwan agrees: "The moisture means we don’t have to irrigate, which takes a big load off of our shoulders as well."

But while the weather has helped some crops, it creates other problems for farmers.

"The big challenge for many of the farmers right now is to try and make some hay," said McEwan. "That’s been impossible except for that one little burst of heat we had at the end of May. That’s a negative. On the positive side, the potato crops and most everything else we’ve planted are doing very well with the moisture."

Sturdy has a similar philosophy. "Well, the way I look at it is that any year, any weather is good for some things and not so good for others. It’s just the bounty of that particular season. For example, corn and melons are not going ahead as fast as I’d like to see because we haven’t had the heat units. But other stuff is great because we’ve had a real nice amount of precipitation."

Potato farmers, however, will be watching the weather.

"The potato growers may have some concerns in weeks to come if this weather stays," McEwan said. "Blight is a big concern. This kind of weather might bring on blight, so we’d have to worry about that. Certainly I would assume the vegetables could use some sun eventually too but we’re not complaining right now."

"All in all it’s pretty good," said Sturdy. "Everything’s green, the place looks great. The weather’s good."

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