Crews at Galey Farms are busy in the strawberry fields. The Saanich-area farm also grows carrots, potatoes, corn and pumpkins, but owner Rob Galey said workers are focusing much of their attention on the berries this week, because of the recent high temperatures in the Greater Victoria area. He’s worried about potential sunscalding — which is, essentially, a sunburn for plants.
The Greater Victoria area saw record temperatures — nearing or at 30oC — a few times this week, and, with dry conditions, Galey said his crews must work quickly to harvest strawberries. Still, the farm owner noted the warm weather and dry conditions did not take him by surprise.
The farm’s strawberry fields make use of plastic mulch and micro-irrigation. The plastic mulch covers the soil but allows the plant to grow through the covering, while the micro-irrigation allows for watering underneath the plastic.
The heat reflects off the plastic mulch during the day and is trapped under the covering at night, preventing wide temperature swings during growing. “This stays very consistent,” Galey said.
He started switching to the newer technologies several years ago, because of the changing weather on Vancouver Island. “You’re going to have to change with the times — extreme temperature, extreme rainfall, extreme winds. You just got to be ready.”
The B.C. government announced a Level 3 drought rating for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands last week.
Daily high temperatures in Victoria are expected to reach above 20oC each day for the rest of the week, according to Environment Canada.