Wednesday, April 1st5.4°C

Heatwave is sweet for fruit

The BC Fruit Growers' Association says the recent high temperatures are 'cherry'.

They say the heatwave will not impact the availability or quality of apples, cherries or other fruit grown up and down the Okanagan Valley, as it turns out for the fruit, heat is a good thing.

West Kelowna's Paynter's Fruit Market and Orchard Owner Jennay Oliver says the heat is a blessing for all their crops.

“It is good for us! The more sun we get the more sugar that is in the fruit so we are always happy with a lot of sunshine,” says Oliver.

She adds that there is no concern about the crops drying out as long as there is a secure water source as everything is on an overnight irrigation network.

“As long as we have a good snow pack over the winter then everybody has a pretty good supply of water around here so everyone that grows fruit is happy about the sun and we don't want the rain,” says Oliver.

She adds that lower temperatures and rain can bring rot into the orchards, so sun is what they like to see.

“As long as it is just hot and dry it is perfect growing weather, I am happy with the sun!” smiled Oliver.

The BC Fruit Growers' Association does note that some orchard operations are impacted by the heat and have to change how they work; many will make the following adjustments:

  • The fruit growth at hot temperatures will slow or stop, then resume when temperatures drop to normal temperatures for the season.
  • Picking of fruit (cherry season has opened) is done before noon, when temperatures are cooler.
  • Fruit is chilled as quickly as possible after picking.
  • Fruit ripens more quickly as temperatures rise. The amount of time available to harvest the fruit is shorter, which makes getting the crop off the trees more time sensitive.

“The summer heat will add an extra challenge to getting crops off in good shape, but we want to assure our loyal customers that there is adequate supply of cherries from now through to August and even into September” said Fred Steele, President of the BC Fruit Growers’ Association.

Apricots are the only big concern right now as they only grown commercially in the Okanagan and will be ripening soon and fast.

“We are looking for local fruit pickers to get the crop off the trees faster than usual. Interested people may call Ron Forrest, the facilitator of the BCFGA Labour Project, at 250-859-7503. Right now, we have one order for 50 pickers that is unfilled and by next week the tree fruit industry will need more workers,” said Steele.

Temperatures are expected to cool down this weekend to 25 degrees with a 30-60 per cent chance of showers and then pick back up over 30 degrees with sunshine next week. 


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