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Okanagan cherries damaged by extreme temperatures during B.C. heat wave

Click to play video: 'Okanagan cherries severely damaged by extreme temperatures' Okanagan cherries severely damaged by extreme temperatures
The consistent 40-plus degree weather recently has wilted and shrunk many of their cherries – Jul 6, 2021

Okanagan cherry growers are suffering as the recent heat dome scorched many of their cherries, which should be ready for picking.

The consistent 40-plus degree weather recently has wilted and shrunk many of their cherries.

Read more: Heat wave putting Okanagan fruit crops at risk

“We think maybe 50 per cent is good but now it’s all gone,” said Karma Gill, Gill Orchard’s owner.

“We don’t know about the next (crop), but with my experience, I think what will happen is that the next variety is gone too.”

Gill told Global News on Tuesday that he’s lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“We lost an estimated $800,000. The good crop looks totally lost.”

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It’s a devastating blow to the cherry industry, which has already seen two bad years in a row.

The B.C. Cherry Association said it’s extremely disappointing, as the season had a lot of optimism before the heat wave.

“In 2019, we had excessive rain right before harvest. In 2020, we were kind of frozen out with the cold snap that came through,” said BC Cherry Association president Sukhpaul Bal

“The crop we had on the trees (before the heat wave) was the nicest I’ve seen in years and with this heat wave, it really caught everyone off-guard.”

Read more: Fruit growers fuming after Summerland shuts off irrigation amid historic heat wave

Not only are the Okanagan cherries being burned, the ones that are surviving have been severely reduced in size.

Something cherry growers lament as large cherries are their money makers.

“We’ve noticed the size is down,” said Gordie Sandhu, Sun City Cherries’ owner.

“We make the most money on larger fruit and it just seems like were not going to get the size (this year).”

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At this point it’s hard to tell if the later variety of cherries will be as damaged as the current crop.

Growers are holding out hope that those cherries won’t be as damaged.

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