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Okanagan cherry season is underway

FILE PHOTO - A cherry tree in a South Okanagan orchard is pictured in this file photo.
June 23, 2017 - 2:47 PM

KELOWNA - Nothing quite says summer in the Okanagan than eating ripe, juicy cherries until your hands are stained red and your stomach is aching it’s so full. Lucky for us, that time is now.

The start of cherry season has begun, and according to B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association general manager Glen Lucas there is going to be a good crop this year.

“We’re just at the start, very early cherries are available,” said Lucas. “I think with this heat we’ll see a real increase in the size and sweetness, as well juiciness, everything is looking good.”

Due to the long winter, Lucas said there were concerns about the condition of this year's crop.

“We did have concerns over the very cold weather over the winter affecting buds,” he says. “But if anything, that’s thinned the crop a little bit, which is a good thing because that means the remaining cherries will be larger.”

This year’s crop is about a week ahead of last year, with early cherries usually only available around Canada Day, according to Lucas.

“The crop will probably peak just into July, but we have availability right through August now,” he said. “Those later cherries are beautiful, very large and firmer - almost crunchy in some cases, a very nice eating experience.”

According to Lucas, 80 per cent of the cherries planted worldwide come from the Summerland research station.

“The cherries bred in Summerland have revolutionized the cherry industry worldwide,” he says. “They are split resistant and able to last right through August, which is much later than before.”

However, not all cherries are split-resistant, and rain is a concern.

Rain splitting happens when cherries are exposed to lots of rain, causing their exterior skin to break. The helicopters you see hovering above cherry orchards are meant to prevent this by drying the crop.

The next fruits to be on the look out for are apricots, nectarines and peaches.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Hickman or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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