As I have not posted anything since we completed harvest 3 months ago some of you may be curious as to what has been going on at the orchard since then.
Well, the biggest event is really a non-event.. the almost complete lack of rain! That wasn’t such a big deal for a while, but it has become serious because we have no means to irrigate. There is no suitable groundwater supply and we are too far away from the river. We had at one time contemplated constructing a reservoir to catch run-off from neighboring fields but decided against it for various reasons; Haskap is drought resistant and makes use of snow melt and spring rains, which we felt should normally provide adequate water. Problem is there is now very little normal left in our weather. It now appears we will be entering the winter without late fall precipitation.
Much of our province has faced the driest spell since January ever recorded. Here at Birch Hills I think the total precipitation since snow melt has been less than 75mm.. and that on top of a very small spring snowmelt. The only thing that saved crops of all kinds this summer was that the ground was almost fully saturated last fall.The soil is extremely dry, probably the driest in at least fifteen years. Some of our orchard definitely shows drought stress. We can only hope that we get some decent snow cover and spring rains to help rebuild seriously depleted soil moisture reserves. If that does not happen the haskap will get an extreme stress test next year!
Sandra and I received the wonderfully packaged limited edition Canada 150 Canadian Sea Salt Collection from one of our clients the Vancouver Island Salt Co a few days ago. It includes a haskap infused salt made from product supplied by Northern Light Orchards. If you haven’t tried any Van Isle Salt, you should, they process a great natural product and the first naturally produced whole sea salt that is hand-harvested in Canada.
Northern Light Orchards Ltd continue to work with other orchards within our new jointly owned company North 49 Fruit Corporation to build a supply chain that hopefully will enable our great berries and products to be more easily available to a much wider marketplace in the future
Other than that, things have been quite uneventful at the orchard. The grass and clover has been cut a few times as necessary, the annual bottom pruning has been done, everything has been winterized, and I am just completing the application of some liquid fertilizer. The very strong winds today will likely remove the remainder of the leaves from the haskap, so I may do some thinning if the weather remains decent. Local grain farmers are almost all done harvest and are working long standing patches of cattails and now dried up potholes in an effort to regain acres lost to flooding for ten years or more.
Despite the slim rainfall prospects being forecast, I am hoping for rain and hoping to move forward with various projects and am very happy we have escaped the devastating winds, fires, and floods that many others have experienced. Thought to self “it will be better next year” (A very typical farmer’s wish).