Okanagan apples best in country

Okanagan apples win in every category at the National Apple Competition at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, Ontario

John Gardner

John Gardner

Okanagan grown apples captured the top spots — grand champion and reserve champion — in all three categories at this year’s National Apple Competition at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, Ontario.

Okanagan fruit growers were up against competitors from Ontario and Quebec, all submitting their best apples to the competition in five categories: heritage, new and commercial varieties, as well as best collection of any five varieties, and heaviest/most unusual shaped apple.

The apples were judged by John Gardner, a retired apple specialist from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, on the day prior to the opening of the fair, with the results being announced on the first day.

Some names are repeated over and over in the results, like Sun-Oka Farms from Summerland and Gill Farms out of Oliver. Along with taking first in several of the variety competitions, Sun-Oka also was named reserve champion in commercial varieties for their gala apples and grand champion in new varieties for their aurora golden gala apples. Then to top it all off, they also took first place for best collection of any five varieties.

Winning awards is nothing new for the Devin and Janine Jell, the fifth generation of the family to run the 125-year-old-orchard. Between 2008, when the National Apple Competition was reintroduced, and 2011, the Jells submitted nine entries, each of which won a prize, for a total of 14 awards, ten of which were for First Place, Champion or Reserve Champion designations. This year’s wins bring those totals to 20 awards overall, with 16 top prizes.

Gill Farms, owned by Amanpreet and Shavinder Gill, fared similarly well. Though they have only been farming their 22 acres for 11 years, their entries this year earned them five prizes including two for first prize and grand champion for commercial varieties.

JMJ Biodynamic Orchard, owned by the Rothe family of Cawston, captured the third grand champion prize, with their winesap taking top spot in the heritage apple category.

Commercial Varieties

Class: Gala

1st Devin Jell, Sun-Oka Fruit Farms, Summerland **

2nd Billy and Shauna Boerboom, The Apple Barn, Summerland

3rd Shivinder Gill, Gill Farm, Oliver

Class: Spartan

2nd Billy and Shauna Boerboom, The Apple Barn, Summerland

Class: Golden Delicious

1st Shivinder Gill, Gill Farm, Oliver

2nd Billy and Shauna Boerboom, The Apple Barn, Summerland

Class: Jonagold

3rd Jill, Martin, and Jonathan Rothe, JMJ Biodynamic Orchard

Class: Red Delicious

1st Shivinder Gill, Gill Farm, Oliver, BC

2nd Jill, Martin, and Jonathan Rothe, JMJ Biodynamic Orchard

Class: Champion and Reserve

Grand Champion Shivinder Gill, Gill Farm, Oliver (Red Delicious)

Reserve Champion Devin Jell, Sun-Oka Fruit Farms, Summerland (Gala)

Heritage Varieties

Class: Other

1st Jill, Martin, and Jonathan Rothe, JMJ Biodynamic Orchard (for Winesap)

2nd Lane and Ryan Mitchell, Mitchell Family Orchard, Summerland (for Granny Smith)

3rd Billy and Shauna Boerboom, The Apple Barn, Summerland (for Granny Smith)

Class: Champion and Reserve

Grand Champion Jill, Martin, and Jonathan Rothe, JMJ Biodynamic Orchard (for Winesap)

Reserve Champion Lane & Ryan Mitchell, Mitchell Family Orchard, Summerland (for Granny Smith)

New Varieties

Class: Ambrosia

1st Devin Jell, Sun-Oka Fruit Farms, Summerland

2nd Gord Shandler, Summerland

3rd Angie Ritz, Kelowna

Class: Aurora Golden Gala

1st Devin Jell, Sun-Oka Fruit Farms, Summerland *

2nd Angie Ritz, Kelowna

3rd Frank Fenwick, Fenwick Farms, Cawston

Class: Honeycrisp

1st Billy and Shauna Boerboom, The Apple Barn, Summerland

Class: Other

1st Narinder and Surinder Gosal, Kelowna (Nicola)

2nd Gord Shandler, Summerland (Salish)

3rd Gurinder Saran, Kelowna (Nicola)

Class: Champion and Reserve

1st Devin Jell, Sun-Oka Fruit Farms, Summerland, BC (for Aurora)

2nd Billy and Shauna Boerboom, The Apple Barn, Summerland (for Honeycrisp)

Best Collection of 5 Varieties

1st Devin Jell, Sun-Oka Fruit Farms, Summerland

2nd Lane & Ryan Mitchell, Mitchell Family Orchard, Summerland

3rd Shivinder Gill, Gill Farm, Oliver

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