As the last of the late cherries are plucked from trees in the Okanagan, it’s become clear that frost and cool weather during blossom time in the spring has had a significant impact on the size of this year’s crop.
Christine Dendy, B.C. Cherry Association president, estimates this year’s crop to be around 50 to 60 per cent of normal — a loss estimated at $32 million.
While last year’s crop was estimated at about 16,000 tonnes, this year they picked an estimated total of 8,000 to 10,000 tonnes, she said.
Spring frost resulted in a much-smaller-than-normal crop produced by growers in adjacent Washington State as well, she noted.
“Next year will be a big challenge as both Washington and B.C. could have big crops with new production coming into bearing as well,” she commented.
Cherry production in the Northwest has increased exponentially in recent years as more and more growers replanted apples to cherries, with low prices on global markets for apples and with newer varieties of cherries providing a lengthened season for harvesting and marketing.
There are still young trees that are just coming into production in both countries.
Byron Jonson, general manager for the agriculture ministry’s crop insurance branch in Kelowna, says not all producers, particularly some of the larger cherry growers, participate in the program, but he said they have seen claims for losses in the Oliver-Osoyoos area of 75 per cent of last year’s crop, and 30 to 50 per cent in the Similkameen.
Growers in Oyama also put in claims for spring frost damage, resulting in a lighter crop there than during 2012.