Montreal-area farm loses crops after fighting the frost

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Quebec farmers dealing with losses after frost
WATCH: Some Quebec farmers are assessing the damage after a few nights of frost. Quinn Farm in Île Perrot says it lost about half of its strawberry crops. And as Global’s Felicia Parrillo reports, the loss of local crops will likely leave a bad taste in consumers' mouths – May 23, 2023

Phil Quinn rummaged through some of his farm’s strawberry crops Tuesday, but he already knows many of them are a total loss.

The co-owner of Quinn Farm on Île-Perrot and his team worked day and night to protect the crops at the farm after a frost advisory went into effect last week, but Quinn said there are still some losses — “about 50 per cent on our strawberries.”

“The orchard has been spared pretty well. We lit a bunch of smudge fires — smudge fires are very slow-burning, smoky fires. We were able to save the orchards that way.”

Last week, Quinn and his team set up about two dozen smudge fires to protect his apple orchards from frost, which successfully saved them.

Quinn said the farm saw losses in some blueberry and asparagus crops, but the strawberries were the biggest loss.

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Usually, the fruit is available for u-pick and is sold in the farm’s store.

He estimates about a $75,000 loss of product and around $300,000 lost from admission fees.

“We’re very lucky to be diversified in what we do. We start with asparagus and finish with Christmas trees,” Quinn said. “Not all of those crops are affected by the frost, so we’re spreading the risk a bit more. But anyone who is specialized in strawberries, it’s significant losses for them.”

The Quebec Farmers Association said the frost has been difficult for most farmers, depending on the crop or where the farm is located in the province.

John McCart, president of the Quebec Farmers’ Association says when strawberry producers lose part or all of their crops, it may have an impact at the grocery store. But exactly how much that impact will be depends on the extent of the damage to the crops.

McCart said many producers are just hoping the weather stabilizes soon.

“It’s abnormal to have these events one week after the other,” McCart said. “I’m hoping by June 8 we’ll be safe, but in these days we don’t know.”

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