Every year, winter wind gusts of up to 100 kilometres an hour damage or destroy winter grain crops in the river plain along the St Lawrence River.
Snow is a crucial insulating cover for these winter grain crops that are planted in September and winter in the field. When the snow is blown away, the temperature of the ground plummets, causing deeper freeze. Hedgerows planted along the field edges are a promising option for mitigating these problems. However, producers are often hesitant to plant these windbreaks because they perceive them as wasting productive surface area. The Ferme Anlousie, which grows certified organic winter grains including rye, wheat, and spelt, is located in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, Québec, not far from the St. Lawrence River. It has experimented with the planting of productive hedgerows with the help of the Centre d’enseignement et de recherche en foresterie (CERFO) affiliated with Cégep de Sainte-Foy.
Researchers reviewed existing literature and made recommendations according to site conditions and property owners’ goals for their land. The project planted cost-effective hedgerows of trees for maple syrup, fruit, and wood. Researchers compared three types of hedgerows to assess their efficacy for fruit and wood production, and their protective effect on the grain crop.
André Simard, owner of Ferme Anlousie says, “A windbreak of fruit trees can give me an annual crop, while poplars can be harvested in 25 years and sugar maples can be tapped and add to our maple syrup production. All that and my organic grain crop is protected from the wind, deep freeze, and neighbours’ chemical spraying.”