Fruit growers expect to overcome weather

Rod Hollett reaches to pluck a gala apple from one of the bountiful trees in his Naramata Road orchard. Fruit growers are reporting good returns during the current harvest. - Mark Brett/Western News
Rod Hollett reaches to pluck a gala apple from one of the bountiful trees in his Naramata Road orchard. Fruit growers are reporting good returns during the current harvest.
— image credit: Mark Brett/Western News

Despite the weird pattern of weather, things are boding well for fruit growers in the Okanagan

“We are relieved that things have changed and it bodes well for some very good looking fruit,” said B.C. Fruit Growers Association president Joe Sardinha.

“Despite some negative stories on some of the effects of the sun and sun burn, there is going to be plenty of B.C. apples that will hit the store shelves in due time and some are already being put out to the markets. When you are handed some challenging weather you make the best of it. Now we just want a fall that is fairly long and temperatures in the low 20s and cool overnight temperatures and hopefully no early frosts. We already had our share of weird weather this year.”

One of the biggest challenges growers faced, according to Sardinha, was getting colour on the apples, but breaking the pattern of 30C weather assisted in that area. Summer came a little later this season, but it also lasted a little longer than usual. Recent cool nights and spots of rain have helped colour the MacIntosh and the Galas. Sardinha said other varieties like the Spartans, Ambrosia, Fuji and Red Delicious all need the cooler weather.

“The B.C. Fruit Growers and Okanagan Tree Fruit Co-operative have lots of B.C. apples hitting the shelves and certainly look forward to having loyal B.C. customers purchase our product and enjoy the fruits of our labour and the best of the season,” said Sardinha.

Marking their 20th anniversary of making wine at their family farm winery on the Naramata Bench, Kettle Valley Winery owner Bob Ferguson has seen his fair share of strange weather conditions. This year’s weather pattern has only put them back seven to 10 days he estimates. Some luck and good weather, he said, will put them right back on track.

“Provided we don’t have an early frost then I think valley-wide we will be in good shape. If we see an early frost then I think it could be extremely damaging,” said Ferguson.

He said those who did their fruit thinning early and got their leaves pulled to expose the fruit to sunshine will have a good year, although some crops like a cabernet sauvignon will pose some challenges this season.

“I think some of the reds will be a bit challenging, but the whites and pinot noir will come in really well. The reds need longer and hotter weather to ripen, and we just haven’t had it this summer,” said Ferguson.

Like many fruit growers, Ferguson said the Weather Network is his favourite television channel at this time of the year.

“There is nothing you can do about the weather, but I guess it’s somewhat satisfying or calming to have an understanding of what the weather is going to be and what the low temperatures will be,” said Ferguson.

The winemaker expects to be picking his fruit following the Fall Wine Festival after the last crush of tourists head out of the valley.


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