Latest News

BCFC Climate Research 2017

Northern B.C.’s Bulkley-Nechako region is well-known for producing much of Western Canada’s very best quality hay. The roughly 350-square-kilometre region, from Vanderhoof in the southeast to Germansen Landing in the north to Smithers in the west, boasts summertime daylight that stretches 17 hours. The area surrounding Vanderhoof offers the very best arable agricultural land: an ancient glacial lake-bed with rock free, silty clay loam up to 600 feet deep. Historically, the region has also provided ideal growing conditions for high-protein, high-sugar forages: heavy snowfall in winter provides great spring moisture, and the reliably warm, sunny summer days were always perfect for both growing and harvesting hay. In the last 15 years, however, the weather has changed drastically. In the eastern part of the Nechako Valley, it’s now significantly wetter than ever before while in Ray’s southwestern part of the valley, it’s now incredibly dry. There have been more than a few years recently as well when the ground freezes long before the snow flies. Without an insulating layer of snow, the barren ground freezes deep and hard, so that when spring finally comes, melting snow runs off the deep frozen ground rather than percolating in. Streams are often full to bursting, while forage fields go into the growing season dry as dust. And it gets worse. Both spring and summer tend to be cooler now than historical norms, and precipitation seems to wait to fall until the worst possible time; right in the middle of haying season.

Soil Sampling and Soil Testing

When to soil sample? Soil sampling annually-cropped fields just before spring seeding gives the most accurate measurement of soil nutrient status. But realistically, spring is often too short and rushed to allow soil sampling, analysis and developing your fertilizer plans. So, sampling in late fall after soil temperature has dropped to 5 to 7 C is often the most practical time.

Soil Health Tech Bulletin II (2017)

BIOLOGICAL SOIL HEALTH TEST: Microbial diversity is an excellent indicator of soil health (Nielsen and Winding 2002). They report that variation in microbial population or activities precede changes that can be noticed in some cases as early signs of soil degradation or amelioration. Water and nutrient supply from soil, particularly N and P, determine the plant growth both in natural and agro-ecosystems. It is important to understand that the above ground vegetation is the ultimate source of C for the microbes in the rhizosphere that, in turn, support the macro-fauna.

Tree fruit replant applications due November 15

British Columbia’s tree fruit growers are being reminded they have until Nov. 15, 2017, to apply for replant funding as they prepare for next year’s growing season. The replant program helps growers replace fruit trees with new, high-value and high-quality fruit such as ambrosia and honeycrisp apples as well as late-season cherries. These new varieties meet consumer demands locally and around the globe. In 2016, B.C. fruit growers produced more than 128,000 tonnes of apples, cherries, peaches, pears, plums/prunes, nectarines and apricots. The total represents close to one-third of Canadian production and over $116 million in farm cash receipts.