Cherry-drying helicopter flies over farmland in the Okanagan. (submitted)

Possibly worst Okanagan cherry season in 20 years

Cherry season in the Okanagan is taking a hit, farmers are trying to stay positive

The Okanagan has seen its fair share of wet weather over the past two weeks, causing some farmers to hire helicopters to blow dry their cherry crops.

For some, that hasn’t been practical.

“Most of our stock is completely unpickable,” said Shelley Kempf, owner of Kempf Orchards. “Probably one of the worst years in 20 years.”

Shelley and her husband Herb have seen about 50 to 60 per cent of their cherries split, causing the early crop of cherries to be all but wiped out.

“Cherries do not want rain,” Kempf said. “We are going to try and keep going.”

READ MORE: Okanagan cherries enter the Japanese market

Kempf is trying to stay hopeful while going through the process of filing for crop insurance compensation and said that other cherry varieties, ripening later in summer, might prove to be fresh and healthy. Otherwise, her nine-acre farmland will not be profitable.

Penny Gambell, from Gambell Farms, said they have a variety of crops on their farm, diversifying their portfolio so the impact from poor weather is minimized.

“It’s been a challenge, that’s for sure,” she said. “It’s been challenging.”

But overall, Gambell said her cherries are extra sweet this year, definitely pickable and will recover later in summer, weather permitting.

READ MORE: Cherry season is only a few weeks away and as healthy as ever

“A lot of farmers are keeping an eye on the weather but also planning for it,” said B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association president Bhupinder Dhaliwal.

There are many tactics farmers can use to mitigate damage to their crops, Dhaliwal explained, such as proactive irrigation management, rain guards for the cherries or helicopter drying.

Gambell said helicopter drying isn’t economically worth it unless you have at least 10 acres. Instead, she said her son has been drying the cherries with an orchard blower after rainfall to keep the cherries from serious splitting.

READ MORE: A young Kelownian’s fatal overdose inspires community-service award


@davidvenn_
David.venn@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BREAKING: Surrey man pleads guilty on first day of West Kelowna murder trial

Tejwant Danjou is charged with second-degree murder in the July 2018 death of Rama Gauravarapu

Heather Courtney: Growing the Okanagan’s wine industry

She is the general manager of O’Rourke’s Peak Cellars in Lake Country

Kelowna karate athletes bring home gold at 2020 BC Winter Games

Eight Kelowna-based athletes won gold medals last week

Kelowna council denies proposed provincial pot shop

The shop was proposed within 500 metres of an already approved location

Kelowna mayor to request RCMP’s ‘unfounded’ sexual assault report

RCMP said the report was completed over a month ago but have yet to release it or make a statement

VIDEO: Feds warned agricultural sector near ‘tipping point’ due to blockades

Canadian Federation of Agriculture points to lack of propane and feed due to Coastal GasLink dispute

Closing down: One less Starbucks in Vernon

Seattle-based coffee giant says last cup of joe served is part of regular business

B.C. terminates contract with hospice society refusing assisted death

Delta Hospice Society loses hospital service fund of $1.5 million

UPDATE: CP Rail blockade near Chase removed, hereditary chief arrested

Protest held in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en First Nation regarding RCMP, LNG pipeline

UPDATE: 14 arrested at blocked rail line in northern B.C., police say

But a Gitxsan hereditary chief says 14 were arrested, as fight over natural gas pipeline continues

Hospital parking fees needed, but changes to payment system possible, health minister says

B.C. health minister Adrian Dix says hospital parking doesn’t need to be so stressful

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Man accused of attacking Penticton doctor has charges dropped by Crown

Charges against Gregory Nield for alleged attack on a psychiatrist at PRH stayed by Crown

Most Read