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

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As severe drought and water shortages continue to wreak havoc on crops in California, the largest agricultural state, US fruit sellers are turning to Canada.

American berry giant Driscoll’s has partnered with Sébastien Dugré, co-owner of the Massé Nursery in St. Paul Dabotsford, Coué, to test the feasibility of commercial production of blackberries and raspberries in the province.

Quebec’s cold climate can limit berry harvests, so it is unusual to grow berries on a large scale in that part of Canada. I was able to harvest

“There’s definitely a learning curve. Last year was rough, but this year it’s been much better and we’ve done better,” he said.

Dugre uses domed tunnels to protect plants from rain and create a warmer microclimate for plants. It all helps him start early in the spring and finish late in the fall, prolonging his growing season.

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

While there may be unexpected benefits for some growing regions, agricultural change will intensify the major challenges ahead as the world adapts to climate change and extreme weather events that are becoming more frequent and intense. .

Sebastien Dugre is co-owner of the Masse Nursery in Saint-Paul-Davottsford, Couy. He’s partnered with his Driscoll’s to test commercial production of blackberries and raspberries. (Carl Boulanger/CBC)

change of terms

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

There’s a lot of trial and error, but partnering with a bigger player could be worth it for Canadian producers. I can’t,” she said.

Changing climatic conditions are not the only motivation for testing. High transportation costs make it relatively cheap to grow and ship within Canada.

“The fact that Canada is becoming more attractive has a lot to do with the conditions here and how things are changing, but also with the conditions where these companies are already producing,” Doidge said. says.

Labor shortages are a concern in California. And as prolonged droughts and water shortages become more common, the costs of protecting crops and pumping water to farms are rising. California Institute of Public Policy.

Soren Bjorn, president of Driscoll’s, says using technology and modern genetics allows his company to actually have a viable season in Canada.

“We will definitely increase, with more growers and more hectares … we believe that over time this will be a good risk mitigation measure.”

Berry giant Driscoll’s has been conducting trials to see if blackberries and raspberries can be grown in Quebec’s relatively cold climate. (Carl Boulanger/CBC)

redrawing the map

As the world warms, farmers around the world are redrawing the agricultural map.

In Italy, the Moretino family runs a coffee roasting business and last year successfully cultivated coffee for the first time. They planted 60 Arabica coffee trees. This has allowed them to adapt to the Sicilian climate. It lies far north of where coffee is traditionally grown near the equator.

Andrea Moretino writes: blog post About experience.

Last year, the Moretino family succeeded in growing coffee for the first time in Palermo, Sicily. (Moretino)

Other regions are projected to become less suitable for growth. for example, study According to an estimate published earlier this year in the journal Plos One, Peru could lose more than half of its suitable avocado growing area by 2050 due to climate change.

“When the weather becomes erratic, we see that not only are the temperatures getting hotter every day, but they are actually erratic, disrupting production significantly,” Bjorn said.

“If there is disruption in one place, there must be another place where some of the impact in the market can be mitigated.”

However, with changing climate conditions, while Canada has an opportunity, the country is not immune to extreme weather. Droughts have taken a toll on prairie crops in recent years, and last November caused massive flooding in Columbia, British Columbia, affecting many berry plantations. Still, producers like Dugre know they have to adapt to survive.

“It’s a never-ending process, and we’re making adjustments every year, and we’ll continue to make adjustments 30 years from now.”

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