Historic Heat Wave Scorches Area Berry Farms

Late June is normally one of the best — and busiest — times of the year for Willamette Valley cane berry producers, which means the scorching heat wave of earlier this week couldn’t have come at a worse time.

“It doesn’t look good,” Tisa Martishev, of South Barlow Berries, said in a grim Facebook video Tuesday — one day after temperatures in Canby rose to at least 114 degrees, with some reports well over 120. “Look at that. It’s just— I don’t even… Words can’t describe what we’re seeing, folks.”

Martishev shared several videos during and in the immediate aftermath of the historic event, showcasing photos and videos of withered vines, curled leaves and shriveled raspberries, blackberries and marionberries.

In one clip, she compared what a varietal called the Columbia Star Thornless Blackberry normally looks like this time of the year.

“Unfortunately, with the extreme heat conditions, this is what they’re turning into,” she said on camera. “Rows and rows of just sunburnt, dried-out Columbia Star.”

The extreme conditions cost the family-owned berry operation 80% of the season’s crop, the Martishevs told The Canby Current Friday.

After a difficult year in 2020 due to the pandemic, this blow has put the farm’s financial situation in jeopardy. South Barlow has already laid off half of its seasonal workforce of 16, the family told KOIN News this week.

The one silver lining is that some portion of the east-facing berry vines appear to be salvageable, Tisa Martishev said, and the farm is offering U-pick hours for those who are interested.

Owned by Tony and Zina Martishev and run by them and their eight children, South Barlow Berries is one of the area’s most popular U-pick berry farms and farm stands, and is a fixture at the Canby Farmers Market most Saturdays.

South Barlow Berries is located four miles south of Canby on South Barlow Road.

Help us build a sustainable news organization to serve Canby for generations to come! Let us know if you can support our efforts to expand our operations and keep all of our content paywall-free. #SwimWithTheCurrent!