Okanagan cherry farmers had high hopes for a bumper crop when the season began, but Mother Nature’s moodiness has them scaling back their expectations.
“The original estimate was 12 million pounds (of cherries), which would have been a record, but almost immediately … the estimate went to nine million pounds, and that was heat related” said Alan Tyabji, the CEO of BC Tree Fruit. Then the rain started to come down, and the estimates fell further, to 7.5 million pounds.
It’s not the worst year farmers have ever seen. When Tyabji’s career began three million pounds was the norm, and it continued to grow each year.
“Our objective is to keep our customers happy,” he said. “We can keep them satisfied, but they’re not thrilled because they’d like more.”
Who won’t likely be happy is the growers who have been able to produce significantly less export-worthy cherries this season due to the weather.
“We expected to ship 3.5 million pounds and we were surprised to see there are 2 million,” he said.
Market returns, however, are fine.
Tyabji said noting that low supply and high demand is an ideal position for making money.