June 08, 2016 - 10:30 AM
KELOWNA - Local cherries will be on sale in Kelowna early next week and maybe even sooner than that, the president of B.C. Fruit Growers Association says.
Fred Steele says although nothing is ever certain in agriculture, the soft tree fruits are almost a month ahead of normal and could be ready as early as this weekend.
“Everything is running about three weeks early,” he says. “It started off as an early season and just kept going.”
The South Okanagan is even further ahead than Kelowna, with many early varieties already picked.
Osoyoos cherry farmer Greg Norton says the warm and early pollination weather meant cherries emerged very quickly from the husk. Lots of warm, sunny weather did the rest.
“Full bloom took place about the same time as last year, but the cherries have developed a lot more quickly this year,” he says.
Steele says the change in weather is forcing local growers to adapt and extend their seasons and get as much fruit as possible.
“It used to be the cherry industry was a five week industry in July. Now it’s turning into a summer-long event.”
Steele estimates there are roughly half a dozen new varieties being grown in the Okanagan and that 80 per cent of the worlds new varieties of cherries come from the Summerland Research Station.
“The whole cherry industry is doing some interesting things,” he says. “By planting at one elevation and then going up so many feet you can extend the season by as much as two weeks.”
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