© Guardian photo by Steve Sharratt
Ornery weather has created a two- to three-week delay in spring planting this year and farmers were eager this week to finally get a chance to prepare the soil. First out of the gate are growers in the banana belt of P.E.I. around Lower Newtown and Kinross near Belfast. Other regions may not begin planting until next week.
New planting season is underway in southeastern region
MONTAGUE — After a two-week delay, farmers are back on the land in the banana belt of Prince Edward Island.
That’s the most southeastern region from Cherry Valley down through Belfast and Flat River.
The sandy soil dries much quicker on the sloping hills there and the bountiful banks of snow left by an ornery winter have withered away.
“We are delayed in planting overall this year,’’ says potato farmer Alvin Keenan, president of the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture. “But I’ve always found the later planting always gives us a nice quality crop.”
Keenan doesn’t expect to begin tilling his own soil in Rollo Bay near Souris until late next week, but welcomes the arrival of spring and the start of a new planting season.
“It’s been a long winter, but most growers aren’t concerned about the planting delays,’’ he said in an interview. “Every year is different and brings a different set of challenges and solutions.”
Farmers in Lower Newtown area near Belfast were fast on the land this week where high sloping hills had dried out quickly and tractors weren’t dealing with mud and mire. The delay will mean fewer new potatoes this year, but will have little effect on varieties that prefer to linger until late October.
Grain crops are getting underway as well, along with the estimated 85,000 acres of potatoes that generate about $1 billion to the provincial economy.
Keenan said the arrival this week of some warmer days with no rain is
helping to melt out the rest of the Island acreage being readied for cropping this year.
“A few more good drying days and the activity will really be busy,’’ he said.
Last year, farmers were planting by almost mid-April due to a lighter winter and warmer spring.
Weather estimates say Atlantic Canada will be in for a cooler than normal period during the first part of the summer followed by humidity and warmth in the latter part.