By Amy Woolvett
The data is in on a regional climate study and the sun is shining for potential growers for the area.
“The collective evidence gathered from the three years of studies strongly supports that Southwest Nova has comparable and in many cases superior climatic suitability to the valley for high value crops such as peaches high bush blueberries and grapes,” said Dixie Redmond, executive director for the Shelburne CBDC.
The preliminary reports from the first year of the study in 2012 were encouraging but even with a harsh winter the results were exceptional in 2013-14 said Redmond.
The study results were released last week.
“This further validates the hypothesis that southwest Nova Scotia is milder than the Annapolis Valley,” read the report.
Not a single station in the Shelburne, Clyde, Yarmouth or Weymouth corridors approached the -23 benchmark and there were the right amount of frost-free days that would cater to those types of crops.
At least 150 frost-free days would be needed to have a suitable climate and it was found only nine out of 60 stations in the study had what would be classified as poor suitability.
High heat unit sites with frost-free periods combined are the most desirable and Yarmouth scored highest.
Redmond said the data is valuable for future investors eying the area.
“The Department of Agriculture receives numerous calls each year from potential developers,” she said. “But they require specific data to make decisions on where to invest.”
She said farming is expensive and investors won’t invest that much money without knowing all the facts.
“They are more inclined to invest in areas where climate data is readily available,” said Redmond. “Investing in crop development is a relatively high risk venture for industry due to high establishment costs and precise site requirements.”
There were sweet spots also identified in the area including two in Upper Ohio and two in the Yarmouth area. Sweet spots are where a desirable balance of all weather variables exists.
“This is the evidence and scientific proof we can hand investors that this is the place to grow grapes, high bush blueberries and peaches,” said Redmond.