The Heathfield family, tracked, hunted, caught and brought home this spruce from the Woodward Christmas Tree Farm in December 2017. Kamloops This Week

The Heathfield family, tracked, hunted, caught and brought home this spruce from the Woodward Christmas Tree Farm in December 2017. Kamloops This Week

Kamloops Christmas trees, grapes survived June heat wave

Privato Winery and Woodward Christmas Treet Farm escaped disaster earlier this summer

  • Aug. 10, 2021 12:17 p.m.

-Kamloops This Week

Privato Vineyard and Winery operations manager Adam Woodward said the Noble Creek water system helped his family’s little piece of heaven avoid devilish consequences during a record-breaking heat wave in late June.

“With those temperatures, it’s just survival mode,” Woodward said. “You’re not growing at all. It was just all we could do to keep enough water in there to keep the humidity and temperature down as best as possible.

“It’s a really good system and it feeds all the farms water in the Noble Creek area. We are lucky to have it.”

The overheard irrigation lines that douse the vineyard and orchard worked overtime to save the crop, which may have been lost if the heat dome — Kamloops set record-high temperatures in three consecutive days, peaking at 47.3 C on June 29 — persevered much longer.

“I don’t have a crystal ball, but yeah, if it kept going for another week, we might be in a totally different situation, where we might have lost it,” Woodward said.

READ MORE: White Rock Lake wildfire evacuation order lifts for 20 more properties

A quashed crop would be devastating, resulting in the loss of four years’ worth of harvests, Woodward said, noting vines would have to be ripped out and new ones replanted the next year.

Woodward ballparked revenue from grapes at $15,000 per acre. Privato has five acres.

The winery evaded significant damage and Woodward suspects the soaring temperatures may have been kind to grapes, which love sunshine and heat.

Smoke taint, most often found in red wines, may result from wildfires burning across the province, but winemakers have tricks to minimize its smell and taste.

“A lot of people like it,” Woodward said. “It’s a silver lining.”

Privato escaped disaster earlier this summer, but Woodward is concerned about the effects of climate change, noting the Noble Creek water system is not designed to adapt to low river levels.

“We’re working closely with the city to see if there is an opportunity to get some funding around climate change to upgrade our system intake and have more efficient water distribution methods onto the crops,” Woodward said.

Harsher winters — most of the grapes Privato uses cannot withstand temperatures below -28 C — and drought are also a concern.

Christmas tree growers on the Coast and Vancouver Island have reported damage from the heat dome, with spring seedlings dying and some trees’ needles turning brown, rendering quality too poor to sell this winter.

Woodward Christmas Tree Farm operates on the Privato property at 5505 Westsyde Rd.

There was minor damage to some trees, mostly on their southwest-facing side, but not enough to have noteworthy impact on revenue this holiday season, Woodward said.

Staff watered Privato’s garden area heavily during the heat wave to save flowers, trees, plants and shrubs from dying.

“We were really concerned … but luckily, we were able to keep it watered enough and everything is really green and colourful in there now,” Woodward said.

READ MORE: Summerland wineries optimistic despite hot, smoky year

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B.C. Wildfires 2021heat warningKamloopsOkanagan