Life not a bowl of cherries for Okanagan residents or rain-soaked farmers

A helicopters dries cherries in an orchard in West Kelowna on Tuesday, July 5 near Gellatly Road.
Image Credit: Contributed/Randy Millis

OKANAGAN - As June rains continue into July, cherry growers in the Okanagan are putting in some extra work in, but it might be costing area residents some extra sleep.

Once ripe, cherries can't tolerate any extra water or their outer skins will split, destroying their value.

Starting at sunrise, farmers have been using large fans and even helicopters to blow the water off the fruit.

But Suhkpaul Bal, president of the B.C. Cherry Growers Association, says the early morning timing has led to complaints from neighbours.

He says they should understand this isn't a great situation for the farmer either.

Bal says the work can't be done after dark because many helicopter pilots are not licensed for night flights.

"Hiring helicopters is the last thing a farmer wants to do, because we're then in a situation where we're just trying to salvage our crop from being too damaged, so that we can't even get in there to pick it," he says.

"If it saves the crop and gets (it) to the market, that's kind of a last resort."

Okanagan noise bylaws don't apply to farms, and Bal says while it might cause some to lose a little sleep, it's worth it to keep farming operations afloat.

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