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Okanagan rain delaying cherry harvest, farmers say

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Farmers around the Okanagan are starting to feel the effects of the increased rain and what feels like an extended spring season. Due to all the wet weather cherry producers are having to delay the start of their harvest. Jasmine King has more. – Jun 29, 2022

Farmers around the Okanagan are starting to feel the effects of the increased rain and what feels like an extended spring season.

“Compared to last year, I would say we’re running about two weeks behind schedule,” said Angelique Slade Shantz, owner of Rosehill Orchard.

Rosehill Orchard in Lake Country would normally be welcoming customers into the farm for their cherry-pick but the rainy weather has affected their output.

A recent storm has left at least one tree without a “pretty sizeable limb,” Slad Shantz said.

“(We) basically lost a lot of nice-looking cherries,” she said.

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Slade Shantz acquired the Rosehill Orchard in 2021 and has had to deal with a number of weather challenges.

“We had the extreme heat, we had the heat dome, we had the fires and the smoke,” Slade Shantz said.

Although her crop fared well last year, she’s unsure what this year will hold. “Now we’re dealing with completely the opposite issue. Lots and lots of rain.”

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Rosehill Orchard isn’t the only one affected by the wet weather. After 22 years of farming, Hayat Orchards say they haven’t experienced weather as they’ve seen recently.

“I’ve not seen that kind of hard winter,” said Hayat Orchard owner Tas Hayat. “It’s more than 10 to 15 days we had temperatures of below 25 or 30, that killed all the soft fruit. Especially peaches, apricots, we don’t have any, and cherries only 40 or 50 per cent.”

Hayat adds that the increased rain isn’t always a bad thing, as it can lead to a larger harvest.

“In some cases, it helps because it’s a longer growing season for our cherries to get to a bigger size.”

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Even though fruit in the North Okanagan hasn’t fully ripened yet, cherries are still available in the South Okanagan.

Slade Shantz says South Okanagan cherries are available for purchase, but if they’re interested in picking their own, they’ll have to wait until the first week of July.

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