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iNwine: Hectic, rainy week for Okanagan cherry farmers

Photo of cherries growing on a tree.
Photo of cherries growing on a tree.
Image Credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/Paolo Neo

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - It continues to be a hectic week for cherry farmers in the Okanagan as the heavy rain threatens to wipe out entire crops.

In order to counteract the rain, farmers must use tactics to dry off their cherries to prevent splitting, and time is of the essence. For most farmers, this means using helicopters, an expensive strategy but well worth it, according to Gayle Krahn, director of horticulture at Coral Beach Farms in Lake Country.

“Hands down, helicopters will save a crop,” she said. Although the ground crew can use blowers, or drive tractors with attached blowers to assist, the helicopters are a must.

This year, June has been quite rainy, which has kept farmers on their toes.

Over the 2017 and 2018 season, June was quite dry and the farmers had an easier time. However, the 2016 season was a different story.

“It was probably the worst year in many years,” recalls Krahn, "maybe even on record, in terms of how much rain we had in the season.”

Despite all the rain, Krahn is optimistic.

"This week has been difficult,” she said. "But up to this point we’ve actually been pretty lucky, and next week looks bright."

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