U.S. fruit sellers look to Canada for berry production amid drought, rising costs

American fruit sellers are heading north to Canada as severe drought and water shortages continue to ravage crops in California, the largest state in terms of agriculture.

American berry giant Driscoll’s teamed up with Sébastien Dugré, co-owner of Massé Nursery in Saint-Paul-d’Abbotsford, Que., to test whether commercial production of raspberries and blackberries is possible. exam in the province or not.

Quebec’s colder climate can limit berry crops, so growing them on a larger scale is unusual for that part of Canada. Dugré began testing last year and is able to harvest almost 80 tons of fruit this year.

“There is definitely a learning curve. Last year was tough, this year was much better, we had better results,” he said.

Dugré is using dome-like tunnels to protect trees from rain, while creating a warmer microclimate for the trees. It all helps him start earlier in spring and finish later in fall, prolonging the growing season.

“There are big companies interested in doing business in Canada… for me it’s a good opportunity,” says Dugré.

While it may bring unexpected benefits to some developing regions, the shift in agriculture underpins the enormous challenges ahead as the world adapts to climate change and extreme weather. is increasing in frequency and intensity.

Sébastien Dugré is co-owner of Massé Nursery in Saint-Paul-d’Abbotsford, Que. He has partnered with Driscoll’s to test commercial production of raspberries and blackberries. (Karl Boulanger / CBC)

Change of conditions

Driscoll’s is also working with several other growers in Ontario, while another US fruit seller, Naturipe Farms, is testing blueberries and raspberries in Ontario and Quebec.

Mary Doidge, associate professor of agricultural economics at McGill University in Montreal, said: “Despite a lot of trial and error, partnering with the bigger players could be worth it for growers. in Canada. “Companies like Driscoll’s with a bit more capital can take those risks,” she said.

Changing climatic conditions were not the only driver of the trials; High shipping costs make growing and shipping within Canada relatively cheaper.

“The reality is that Canada is becoming more attractive in terms of conditions here and how they’re changing, as well as conditions in the places where these companies are manufacturing,” Doidge said.

In California, labor shortages are a growing concern. And with prolonged droughts and increasing water scarcity, the costs of protecting crops and pumping water to farms are increasing, according to the report. California Institute of Public Policy.

Soren Bjorn, president of Driscoll, says that using the latest technology and genetics, his company can actually have a good crop in Canada.

“We’re definitely going to increase and with more growers and more hectares … over time, we think this will be a good risk mitigation measure.”

Driscoll’s giant berry is running trials to see if blackberries and blackberries can be grown in Quebec’s relatively colder climate. (Karl Boulanger / CBC)

Redraw the map

Farmers around the globe are redrawing the agricultural map as the world warms.

In Italy, the Morettino family runs a coffee roasting business and successfully grew coffee for the first time in the past year. They planted 60 Arabica coffee trees, which are adapted to the Sicilian climate – much further north than where coffee is traditionally grown near the equator.

Andrea Morettino wrote in a blog post about experience.

The Morettino family was able to successfully grow coffee in Palermo, Sicily, for the first time last year. (Morettino)

Other areas are forecast to be less suitable for cultivation. For example, a research published in the journal Plos One earlier this year estimated that by 2050, Peru could lose more than half of its area suitable for avocado cultivation due to climate change.

“When we see the volatility of the weather, not just higher temperatures every day, but it’s actually volatility, we’re seeing a pretty big disruption to our production,” said Bjorn. much”.

“When you have a problem in one place, you need to be somewhere else that can hopefully mitigate some of the consequences in the marketplace.”

But while there are many opportunities for Canada as climate conditions change, the country is not immune to extreme weather events. The drought is over steppe cereals in recent years, while extreme flooding in BC last November affects many berry farms. However, growers like Dugré knew they had to adapt to survive.

“It’s a never-ending process, adjusting every year, and 30 years from now, we’ll still be adjusting.”

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