Cherry crop damaged by rain

Ripening cherries throughout the Okanagan have sustained damage from rain, but there's no estimate yet of how much.

Rain over the past few weeks has caused some damage to local cherries, but it won’t be known for sure until harvest begins in the Central Okanagan how much there is.

Christine Dendy, a Kelowna grower and president of the B.C. Cherry Association, says she has sustained some damage in her East Kelowna orchard, but because she doesn’t have that many early varieties of cherries, she doesn’t have as much splitting as some growers.

Rain storms were fickle too, hitting some pockets of the valley more than others, so areas such as Okanagan Centre and Vernon may have fared better than growers in the south of the valley, she said.

For growers in Oliver and Osoyoos, it’s the second straight year of weather problems, and growers in Washington State also have sustained damage, she said.

Rain on cherries that are beginning to ripen causes water to pool in the stem bowl of the fruit where it seeps through the skin and causes splitting.

“Some of my cherries have burst right open. They look like popcorn,” commented Dendy.

However, she said if the weather stays nice and dry and the heat moves in, they should be able to recover in this part of the valley, where fruit is generally a bit later than in the south.

“We had been thinking it was going to be a short crop so it’s a great opportunity to get good prices this year for our fruit, but with quality down, prices may not be as good as we’d hoped,” she commented.

They used a helicopter Wednesday to blow the rain off the crop, and as soon as they finished, another storm moved in and wet them all over again, she said.

Gary Falk, director of the business risk management branch of the Agriculture Ministry in Kelowna said they don’t know any details yet, but there have been a lot of notices of damage turned in by orchardists already.

His staff will be out during picking season to assess the damage, but he said they won’t really know the extent of it until harvest.



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