The start of the summer with record setting amounts of rain and cooler temperatures may have spoiled some peoples holiday plan, but has mad raspberry growers grin from ear-to-ear.
“We have volume, quality, taste, the fruit is big, it is truly an exceptional season,” says Louis Bélisle, producer of raspberries and strawberries in Saint-Eustache.
“Harvests are so great, we only have every 7 or 8 years, it’s still quite rare,” adds David Lemire, president of the Strawberry and Raspberry Producers’ Association.
Unlike other crops, such as corn, which has suffered greatly from rain and cold, bad weather has been beneficial for the growth of raspberries that have not been stressed due to lack of water.
The large amount of snow received this winter which has remained on the ground for a long time also protected the plants against the cold.
“The plant was full of water during its growth, it did not grow too fast because there was no heat wave. If it’s too hot, the fruits are smaller because they ripen a little too quickly, “Lemire said.
In addition, the good weather returned when the harvest began, which ensured a loss-free crop caused by rain-induced diseases or wind damage.
Farmers have also been working for several years to develop varieties and techniques to improve crop yield and the conservation of this small fruit.
Mr. Bélisle has been busy for the last seven years developing a new kind of raspberries, bigger and tastier.
“I think it’s the future; Wherever I sent her to the grocery stores, they told me they still wanted to eat next year, “the farmer smiled.
Guy Pouliot of the Onésime Pouliot Farm in Ile-d’Orléans has developed raspberry production under a large tunnel. The raspberry plants grow in pots that are placed in a shed of fields, which is sort of a three-season greenhouse.
The raspberries are thus sheltered from the bad weather, with the heat and the quantity of water that is given to them is well managed.
“They can be installed on plots of land that are not usable because they are too rocky, for example. This technique also allows us to have summer raspberries until mid-September, “says Mr. Pouliot.
With these innovations, Quebec producers hope to please grocery chains looking for a longer-lasting fruit to resist the time spent in warehouses before they find themselves in the store. The latter have also offered numerous promotions on Quebec raspberries this year.
Producers want to compete with the American raspberry which is often at good prices during the summer.
The summer raspberry should end up on the shelves again a few days while the autumn variety begins to make its entrance, which should also be of high quality.