There will be plenty of strawberries to eat on P.E.I. this summer, but they could be a little smaller and a little later arriving unless the weather gets warmer and wetter, one grower says.
Matthew Compton, owner of Compton's Farm Market in Summerside, P.E.I., says they usually aim to harvest the berries by Canada Day weekend. But the berries, and some other crops, look to be about a week behind schedule because of the dry, cool spring.
"We need no frost from here on out," he said. "If there is a bright line out of this whole cold spring, it's delaying our blossom cycle. So we're not in blossom yet which is going to pull us away from that late frost."
Compton said the wind has also been an issue, but the lack of rain has been mitigated somewhat by the straw covering the berries, which keeps the moisture in the ground.
According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's drought monitor, conditions up to April 30 on P.E.I. ranged from "abnormally dry" to "moderate drought."
"Southeastern New Brunswick, much of P.E.I. and central portions of Nova Scotia were reported as the driest areas across the Atlantic Region in the past three months, having only received between 40 and 60 per cent of normal precipitation," according to the department's April drought assessment.
CBC meteorologist Jay Scotland said that trend has continued into May, where precipitation levels have been about half of the 30-year average on P.E.I.
But Compton has been farming long enough to know that the season can turn around "in the blink of an eye."
"Next week we could have some really hot temperatures and things will rebound faster than we can expect, but we also need some rain and moisture to go along with that too."
Compton said he expects the berries will be about the same price as last year, which were between $5.50 and $5.75 a quart at most places.