Top quality apples being picked

Despite damage related to weather, top quality apples are being harvested in local orchards this fall.

Surinder Shergill of East Kelowna proudly shows off his colourful Ambrosia apples, which are currently being picked.

Surinder Shergill of East Kelowna proudly shows off his colourful Ambrosia apples, which are currently being picked.

An estimated 100,000 bins full of crisp, sweet, ripe apples are being trucked to packinghouses in the Central Okanagan this fall, despite it being a lighter-than-normal crop due to weather damage this past season.

Quality of the fruit that survived the hailstorms and spring frost is good, reports grower services manager Hank Markgraf with the B.C. Tree Fruits Co-operative.

And, prices are good, reports marketing manager Chris Pollock, with the co-op.

In fact, last year’s prices were high as a result of a low North American crop due to a late frost affecting crops along the Eastern side of the continent, and this year’s prices are higher, he said.

Sales are similar to the past couple of seasons, with about 3,000 more 40-pound cartons sold so far over last year.

Prices are slightly above last year overall, he reports.

A favourite on markets so far have been the Honeycrisp apple, which is selling better than any of the other main season varieties, he noted.

East Kelowna orchardist Surinder Shergill says the Ambrosias currently being picked from 15 acres on East Kelowna Road are high quality this year, but he also has acreage on Gully Road where the crop was devastated by hail and had to be sold for juice instead of to the fresh market.

Currently, the Ambrosias are being picked in the Central Okanagan, along with Spartans, and Red Delicious will be next, said Markgraf.

Most of the McIntosh and Galas have already been harvested, he said.

He estimated the co-op has lost 10 per cent of its volume in the Central Okanagan this year, largely due to damage from hailstorms.

Some of that is being sorted out at the packinghouse and diverted across the street to Sun-Rype Products. He estimated growers will get enough from Sun-Rype for juice to pay for picking the fruit.

It’s important growers remove all fruit from the trees because otherwise it’s a drain on the tree’s resources for the tree to continue to ripen its fruit.

Most orchardists are good about taking good care of their trees for next year’s crop.

Even much of the badly hail-damaged fruit was accepted by the juice company, as long as it was dented but the skin wasn’t broken, he said, which has been a help to growers.

“We’ve worked it out with Sun-Rype. They’ve been good; really helpful,” he commented.

Without the damage from hail and frost, this would have been a fairly normal crop year, he figures.




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