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Cherry harvest is three weeks early in Okanagan

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Cherry harvest is three weeks early in Okanagan – May 26, 2016

OSOYOOS — The Rai family has been growing cherries in Osoyoos for the last two decades and has never harvested in May.

“In normal years, we pick cherries about 10th of June. But this time, we picked on the 20th of May,” said Paramjit Rai.

Rai credits the early spring, the farm’s sandy soil and grafting of early-season cherries for the May harvest.

The B.C. Cherry Association reports most growers are about three weeks ahead of schedule.

Board Chair Sukhpaul Bal said the orchardists are prepared.

“With last year’s early season that caught a lot of people off guard, maybe the workers weren’t quite available. So learning form last year, I think a lot of people have learned to be more prepared for the early season,” said Bal.

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He said an early harvest isn’t necessarily good news because it puts Okanagan orchardists in direct competition with foreign growers.

“I think we prefer to be on the late side,” said Bal. “That way, we are assured that our cherries are the latest in the Northern Hemisphere and the demand for our cherries will be very strong.”

The association said the majority of south Okanagan growers will begin harvesting their early-season varieties next week.