At least 60 per cent of N.S. blueberry crop wiped out by killer frost: producers

Blueberry growers in Nova Scotia say about 60 per cent of their wild crop was damaged by a killer frost in June.

Barron Blois, president of the Wild Blueberry Producers Association of Nova Scotia, says the estimate is based on reports from growers who've been inspecting fields that normally yield as much as 60 million pounds of the fruit annually.

The East Hants-based farmer says government disaster relief cheques won't be distributed until after provincial authorities have completed damage assessments, leaving many farmers facing large bills and limited income.

The overnight temperatures on June 3 varied around the province, but Environment Canada said record lows were set as the Annapolis Valley saw temperatures drop to almost -2 C, marking a huge shift from the 28 C high three days earlier.

The precise value of the lost crop is difficult to estimate because the price per pound hasn't been established, but Blois says he's already heard that some processing plants won't be opening due to the shortage of blueberries.

He says growers, harvesters, truckers and plant workers are all finding the loss of the crop ``is a significant issue,'' as blueberries are the largest agricultural export in the province.