Marco Antonio picks royal gala apples in the Bella Vista Farm Market in Vernon.

Marco Antonio picks royal gala apples in the Bella Vista Farm Market in Vernon.

Farmers harvest abundance of apples

A bumper crop has bolstered optimism among North Okanagan orchardists

A bumper crop has bolstered optimism among North Okanagan orchardists.

Apple harvest continues and all reports indicate this is one of the best seasons in recent years.

“The apples are looking great,” said Sid Sidhu, with Vernon’s Bella Vista Farm Market.

“The cool nights are helping with the colour. There’s amazing colour this year.”

While the size of individual apples is down slightly, the overall tonnage is up.

“It’s pretty heavy,” said Tom Ouchi, with Ringo-En Orchards in Vernon.

McIntosh has been harvested and now galas are underway. Next for Ouchi will be Spartans and ambrosia.

“There’s been an early jump on the colour because of the cool nights a few weeks ago,” he said.

One BX orchardist is also keeping very busy.

“It’s an above average crop. We’re very happy,” said Jeet Dukhia.

If there is any uncertainty, it’s over the price this year’s crop will bring.

“There’s always hope,” said Sidhu, referring to the fact that Ontario’s crop has been battered by weather and that may hike demand for Okanagan apples.

“But growers have thought before that prices would increase because of inclement weather elsewhere and Washington comes through and dumps apples into Canada.”

Ouchi is trying to remain optimistic about revenue, but admits so many factors are involved.

“If we can’t have good prices in a year like this, I’m not sure how we get good prices,” he said.

“This is a year where we should get good prices.”

A similar view is coming from Dukhia.

“This should be a very positive year,” he said.

“If we don’t make money this year, we never will.”

The expected size of the valley-wide apple crop handled by B.C. Tree Fruits is expected to be 2.8 million cartons this year.

“Weather and growing conditions have been favourable, unlike a number of other apple-producing regions,” said Chris Pollock, marketing manager for B.C. Tree Fruits, which markets apples internationally.

“We have harvested apples that have a good size, good volume and good colouring.”