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B.C. apples were the apple of the judge’s eye at this year’s national apple competition at the 90th annual Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.
Not only did local fruits take top place in a number of variety categories, they also brought home the grand and reserve champion awards in each of the three divisions, commercial varieties, heritage varieties and new varieties.
B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association general manager Glen Lucas believes this year’s results are the best Okanagan apples have placed since the national contest was resurrected four years ago, after a 40-year hiatus.
“We even won in the honeycrisp category, which Eastern growers grow very well,” he said.
“We took the fair by storm this year.”
He admitted weather has hindered growers in the east this year.
Kelowna grower Angie Ritz placed third for the ambrosia variety in the new varieties division, as well as second for aurora golden gala.
Gurinder Saran of Kelowna came third for the Nicola variety, and Narinder and Surinder Gosal of Kelowna topped the other varieties class with their Nicolas.
B.C. fruit took most of the awards in the new variety division.
B.C.’s newest named apple variety, the Salish, was officially named just two days before the deadline for entry into the fair and only named varieties of apples can be entered. It is a variety bred at the Pacific Agri-food Research Centre in Summerland.
It placed second in the other varieties category, after Nicola, which placed first and third.
In the commercial varieties section, apples from the farms of three South Okanagan orchardists took all three places for gala apples, second place for Spartans, took top two places for golden delicious and for red delicious and third for jonagolds.
Local apples also took all three places in the basket of five apples category.
Growers from B.C., Quebec and Ontario enter their best apples in the annual competition in five divisions: heritage, new and commercial varieties, as well as the best collection of any five varieties and the heaviest or most unusual-shaped apple.
They are then displayed at the fair after judging by John Gardner, a retired apple specialist from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture.