Hot, dry September boosts Fraser Valley harvest

Two months of record-setting hot, dry weather on the South Coast of B.C. has meant record harvests for some farmers and watering restrictions for homeowners.

Peter Guichon, whose family has been working the same fields in Delta, south of Vancouver, since 1878, says a cold and wet June meant a late start for farmers this year, but September has brought the best harvest in living memory.

"I would give it an eight and the fall, I would give it a 10," he said.

"The best September I have ever seen in my life. My dad is 87 years old and he is sitting here and he agrees with me."

Guichon says he and other local farmers are busy harvesting potatoes, peas, beans, corn and other crops.

But he says farmers could use a little rain — with no late summer runoff, water from the Gulf of Georgia has moved up into the Fraser River and creating problems for those who use the river for irrigation.

"The salt backs up into the river and the intakes for all of our irrigation is right from the river," Guichon said.

"The cranberries will be the biggest thing because they have to use water to harvest and they will not put salt water on their cranberry bogs or it just finishes them forever."

Guichon says cranberry farmers will likely have to wait for the rains to come before they can harvest.

Meanwhile homeowners on the Sunshine Coast, north of Vancouver, are facing something new — a level-three water restriction, banning residents from washing their vehicles or turning on sprinklers.

Sunshine Coast Regional District spokesman Bryan Shoji says Chapman Lake, where the district draws its water, is lower than officials can ever remember, and have even considered flying in extra equipment to help draw water.

"We want to be able to get through this drought period without having to do that. So anything that our community can do to hold back and conserve water that would be great."

But Meteorologist David Jones says there is only a small chance of rain this week.

"By the time it reaches the Sunshine Coast it's really going to peter out, so there may just be a few light showers on Friday."

August and September will likely go down as the driest months on record in the region, Jones said.

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