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Okanagan cherry crop 'looking very good' as first fruit of season ready in Osoyoos

Picking of this year's Okanagan cherry crop is now underway in Osoyoos.
Picking of this year's Okanagan cherry crop is now underway in Osoyoos.
Image Credit: Facebook/C&C Family Orchard

There’s optimism in South Okanagan cherry orchards this year as the picking of the first of this year’s crop gets underway in Osoyoos.

At C & C Family Orchards in Osoyoos, Catherine Sandhu says they have been picking early season Chelan cherries for the past three days.

“They’re a great size, they’re great quality this year. The rain is a bit worrisome right now, but so far we have had great weather for cherries,” Sandhu says.

The cherry crop is ripening a bit early this year. Sandhu says normally they would start picking Chelans around June 10.

“We started selectively picking three days ago, but right now we are fully picking. Last week’s warmth was just enough to speed them up. They’re very good cherries this year," she says.

Navi Aujla of Osoyoos Fruit Basket says Early Robin and Chelan varieties are now being selectively picked in their orchards.

“We are doing spot-picking from the tops. I think in a few days with some nice, warm weather we will be in full picking mode,” Aujla says. The orchard is not offering U-pick opportunities yet.

The early harvest is good news for cherry growers in the Okanagan, who have been hard hit by weather related issues in the previous two years.

B.C. Fruit Growers Association general manager Glen Lucas says the valley’s overall crop is looking “very good,” with a reasonable crop size compared to last year.

"There were some winter and spring frosts in 2020 that reduced crop size to between 50 and 70 per cent of what was expected. We also had labour challenges due to COVID-19 last year,” Lucas says.

The weather in the Okanagan this year has been much more cooperative, although Lucas says there was some localized frost damage in Summerland. No other areas are reporting frost damage.

He says rain is now the biggest issue, especially with early season varieties that are subject to splitting due to excessive moisture.

“That’s one thing we are keeping an eye on, but it almost seems like we should be worried about the opposite this year - drought,” Lucas says.

— This story was corrected on June 9 at 2:40 p.m., correcting Glen Lucas' place of employment to B.C. Fruit Growers Association from B.C. Tree Fruits Cooperative.

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