Blueberry season looks promising

Blueberry season looks promising

DAY

Less than a month before the start of the blueberry season, the forecasts are encouraging, say several producers.

We remember that last year, the season had been greatly affected by drought and frost in places. But this year, the rain seems to have played a favorable role so far.

“From what I've seen in my blueberry fields, it's unheard of,” exclaimed Daniel Gobeil, wild blueberry producer and president of the blueberry producers' union. For having chatted with other producers, all the blueberry fields that I saw, it was loaded. It should be a very big year.”

This optimism comes despite the known difficulties with bees during the pollination process.

“We replaced with bumblebees and bees. It seems to have done a good job. It promises to be a good harvest!”, explained Stéphanie Maltais-Côté, director of human resources for the Saint-Bruno freezing plant.

The large amounts of rain received in recent weeks still left some doubt.

“It was hot on Saturday and Sunday, today the rain is perfect. But we have a cold temperature. On Saturday morning, there are places that growers recorded -1.3. At -1.3, it's frozen! But not enough to affect blueberries at the stage they are,” continued Mr. Gobeil.

And the cold weather would have had a positive factor in this case, as it allowed the flowers to develop over a longer period.

“It allowed the native pollinator and those who rent bees and bumblebees to pollinate more flowers. This means that the cold and wet weather has favored greater pollination,” he noted.

However, the arrival of a cold front and hail could upset current forecasts .

“If the blueberries are more advanced, say around August 8, if we have hail, it will end there. But if we don't have the inconvenience of drought or hail, it should be a very big year,” said Mr. Gobeil.

The other challenge, the workforce work

For its part, the Saint-Bruno freezing plant is grappling with a labor problem that is both national and international.

< p>“For the coming season, we are very short of Quebec workers. And for foreign workers, what is really difficult is the processing times. Our request has been sent since October 2021 and we have not yet made it official to still have all our workers, ”explained Stéphanie Maltais-Côté.

The Saint-Bruno freezing plant will not have than 64 foreign workers rather than 91.

“What happens is that it's really with Service Canada that the delays are long in getting [the Impact on the labor market (LMIA). We had no choice but to do business with Richard Martel and his team. They gave us a lot of support and they continue to give it to us because our requests have not yet all been settled,” she concluded.

This outside workforce should therefore take the plane soon to lend a hand at the plant for the season which will begin in August. Until then, we can only hope that the sun is with us with, unfortunately for us, still a little rain.