Millions of kilograms of apples wiped out by cold snap

Apple harvest hit by cold

Recent cold and snow have taken an already rough apple season and tipped it into the awful category.

Apple farmers like Oyama's Al Gatzke tell Castanet that much of what was still left on the trees before we got record snow and cold earlier this month has now been wiped out.

"I've still got 30 bins of apples and I know other farmers who have a hundred which will likely spoil if they can't be juiced," says Al Gatzke, owner-operator of Gatzke Farms. 

Gatzke says it seems like the higher the elevation, the worse it was for apples during the recent cold snap. He says many of the ambrosia apples that were still on the trees have been wiped out by the cold.

Glen Lucas, general manager of the B.C. Fruit Growers' Association says coming into this year we've had three years of low apple returns, but this year is looking worse.

"Quite a challenging year this year," says Lucas.

Lucas says apple farmers were behind from the beginning this year because they struggled to find workers due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.. Then the cold temperatures came along, "we had more apples hanging on trees waiting to be harvested than in a normal year. The cold temperatures froze those apples."

Lucas says many farmers will have crop insurance to cover the hit, but some of the apples still look good and don't turn out to be ruined until after they have been stored. In those situations, the farmer is not covered by insurance.

The B.C. Fruit Growers' Association estimates the cold snap froze close to eight million kilograms of apples.

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