Cold spring bites into local tomato crop

  • Jul. 16, 2008 3:00 p.m.

Fans of Island Joe’s plump locally grown tomatoes will be disappointed for another two weeks due to a temporary crop failure. George Pattison, otherwise known as Island Joe, runs a greenhouse operation on one of the Balch Islands near Queen Charlotte. He was missed at the QC Farmer’s market last week and says he won’t have tomatoes this weekend or next either. “We can blame it on the spring,” he said referring to the colder than normal temperatures on the islands over the last couple of months. But he admits part of the problem is due to manager error – and he’s the manager. Flower clusters grow at intervals on his long tomato vines and once the flowers are pollinated tomatoes grow. But the cold spring slowed pollination on a few cluster levels. Mr. Pattison normally relies on imported bees to help with pollination early in the season, but this year his bees petered out earlier than usual too. When the weather warms, the bees aren’t needed anyway, he says. He also eased off on heating the greenhouses earlier this year due to the high cost of fuel. In previous years, Mr. Pattison has had 1,800 pounds of tomatoes available at this time of year. He says the plants are producing tomatoes higher up on the vine, so a fresh crop will be available in the coming weeks.

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