Heavily affected by climate change, Quebec apple producers are demanding funding from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of Quebec (MAPAQ) to facilitate the adaptation and modernization of the region’s orchards.
In total, Quebec’s chief apple producer, Eric Rochon, is asking for $30 million spread over six years. The latter took advantage of the beginning of the apple growing season to announce this during a press conference on Sunday morning.
“The adaptation challenges we face are enormous and have major repercussions on all links of the chain, from production to distribution, without forgetting consumers,” says the man who also owns the Rochon et Frères farm.
As extreme weather events increase due to climate change, the lack of a financing program is increasingly hurting producers. The government’s Bustan modernization program ended in March 2021.
“The 2023 summer season is characterized by unprecedented extreme weather events. […] “The government must support the apple sector in order to adopt a growth strategy and adapt to today’s new reality,” says General President of the Federation of Agricultural Producers, Martin Caron.
During his 40 years in business at Ile d’Orléans, Jacques Paradis, co-owner of Domaine Orleans, has seen demand change over the years as apples later become more popular because they keep them longer.
“Early-early apples are likely to disappear. With grocery costs increasing dramatically over the winter, people will likely turn to apples that last longer,” he explains.
This involves planting new apple trees and thus modifying them because they will only produce for a few more years.
“We have to uproot and replant new varieties. But when you uproot an apple tree that is already producing and replant another, you keep it for at least 5 or 6 years, but at the same time it is necessary because without that we would not be able to survive.”
Succession is difficult
He also adds that even if it’s not a big problem on his part currently, the lack of funding could seriously hurt the next generation of apple growers in the future.
“We are certainly going to need funding if we are to sustain this, because the young people in the sector who own orchards will have to adapt and it will be expensive.
Examples include irrigation and spraying, while the number has increased in 40 years from about seven per year to about twenty, and the cost is about $600 per operation.
“The cost of the products ranges from $700 to $800 per liter. It is very expensive, but again, we have no other choice because of climate change, so these adaptations are expensive,” he concluded.
“Music guru. Incurable web practitioner. Thinker. Lifelong zombie junkie. Tv buff. Typical organizer. Evil beer scholar.”