The cherry season has taken a severe hit due to recent rain damage in the Okanagan. (kempforchards.com)

435 insurance claims from Okanagan tree fruit growers so far this season

The Ministry of Agriculture is assessing the rain damage in the Okanagan

The rain damage this season to Okanagan fruit crops has been noticed by the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture.

As of July 18, the Ministry of Agriculture production insurance offices have received approximately 435 insurance claims from tree fruit farmers in Kelowna and Oliver.

The insurance claims have come after multiple Okanagan orchards suffered damaged crops from the excess amounts of rain so far this summer. Kempf Orchards in Kelowna reported one of their worst seasons in 20 years this year with 50 to 60 per cent of their early crop of cherries splitting and being unpickable.

In Lake Country, Witzke Orchards lost their entire apricot crop in February due to the cold snap and frost. They’ve lost cherry crops this year as well in what has been one of their worst seasons in the past 11 years.

“Cherries are splitting because of the rain and we’ve lost crops,” said Keith Barth with Witzke Orchards.

“You can’t really put a money value on the losses, and we really won’t know the damage until the season is over.”

READ MORE: Lake Country orchard left rigid after worst season in 11 years

READ MORE: Possibly worst Okanagan cherry season in 20 years

The Ministry of Agriculture confirmed that the extent of the damage will not be known until the season is over, and they anticipate there will be more rain-split claim notices in the next months.

The ministry has been in regular contact with B.C. cherry and fruit growers and will continue to work with the orchards and farms.

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