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Quebec deal off to early start but dealing with damage from heat and rain

by Joel Gebet | August 15, 2010
Warm weather in Quebec has been both a blessing and a curse for Quebec growers this season.

A warmer than normal spring enabled many growers to plant a week to two weeks earlier than normal.

Pierre Dolbec, business development and marketing director for broccoli and cauliflower grower Les Jardins Paul Cousineau & Fils Inc., told The Produce News in late July that "we planted early, and in general, everybody was saying they were coming out much earlier than normal. Sweet corn came out a good 10 days before it has in regular years. Generally you will see [Quebec] strawberries available the 15th or 20th of June, and this year you could buy strawberries the first week of June."

Andre Plante, the general director of the Quebec Produce Growers Association, told The Produce News in late July that “volumes and quality were good,” so good in fact that “we are growing too much for the demand.”

That warm weather got too extreme for growers in late June and early July when temperatures soared close to 100 degrees, causing some damage to crops, especially for growers of leaf items, one of Quebec's major commodities.

“It was a little bit tough in June and July simply because of the record heat,” Mr. Dolbec said. “Crops came in earlier than planned, and there was some crop damage.”

Damage was spotty for growers in areas south of Montreal, while Quebec growers that were north of Montreal seemed to have fared better. As this article was going to press, growers had also been dealing with heavier than normal thunderstorms that they normally receive in late July and early August.

The storms, which brought with them a lot of rain in a very short period of time, were random, hitting some growers one day and other growers the next, especially on Montreal’s south shore.

Daniel Guinois, vice president of Centre Maraicher Eugene Guinois Jr. Inc., one of the province’s larger growers, told The Produce News Aug. 6 that “we have had lots of severe storms, which have created more damage than just the warm temperatures. The past two weeks we have had lots of rain, and the storms are really concentrated. This has created some damage and we have a hard time harvesting.”

Mr. Guinois said that after the storms pass, the fields become very hot and humid, “so the produce grows faster and full of water, which doesn’t give it good shelf life and causes quality issues. Last week we only harvested two days of the week for lettuce.

The bad weather did have a silver lining, increased prices, but Mr. Guinois said that the “volumes were not there and the quality is not 100 percent, its just fair.”

Mr. Guinois was optimistic and said he was looking forward to seeing the weather improve as it normally does at this time of year. “Things are going to change,” he said. “Normally in the middle of August the weather is better and is cooler at nighttime, and September it is drying up. It could be worse.”

(For more on Quebec produce, see the Aug. 23, 2010, issue of The Produce News.)