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Shuswap farm prepares crops for warmer summers

Wild Flight Farm sells produce at Wednesday’s Organic Farmer’s Market at Uptown Askew’s
Wild Flight Farm is a certified organic, 20 acre vegetable farm along the Shuswap River (Wild Flight Farm photo).

As record-breaking spring temperatures transition into what’s expected to be a hot, dry summer, a Shuswap farmer is endeavouring to adapt.

Hermann Bruns, who runs Wild Flight Farm in Mara, explained certain vegetables react differently to the heat.

“Mostly, what (the heat’s) doing is it’s just making everything a little bit earlier than it would normally be,” Bruns said.

“Whereas some vegetables would last a little bit longer in the field.”

Bruns said cool weather crops, like radishes, have a narrower harvest window because of the dry heat. If radishes stay out in the sun for too long, they get too big, and they get hollow and pithy on the inside.

“Normally that might be 10 days to two weeks… but now it’s just a shorter window and sometimes we lose some of the crops because we just couldn’t harvest two weeks’ worth of radishes, and try and sell them, within the space of one week,” Bruns said.

While some of the crops don’t harvest well in warm weather, Bruns is having success with other heat-loving crops, like sweet corn or tomatoes.

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“We might make up for some of our losses … by having corn ready a week earlier, and being able to stretch out the corn season a little bit,” Bruns said.

Bruns can’t predict how the rest of the summer will be based on the high spring temperatures which leaves him worried about the water situation for his fields.

Wild Flight Farm was established in 1993 by Bruns and his wife, Louise, and is located along the Shuswap River. Bruns said that the river is the farm’s irrigation source, and it’s already past its yearly peak.

“The river would normally be at peak level right now. It’s already been going down for three weeks,” Bruns said.

“And I’m thinking if this just continues like this, where’s the river going to be and how dry are forests going to be?”

Bruns doesn’t think this “early spring” will ruin his harvest, but he fears for the future state of the planet.

“It’s a little scary from the perspective of glaciers melting and coming out of the mountain so much earlier,” Bruns said.

“And that whole scenario is the part that I think about.”

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