Canada: Cherry season started, and helicopters ready for action

Canada: Cherry season started, and helicopters ready for action

The Canadian cherry season began last week with an unseasonably cool weather. Growers can see a very good cherry quality; however, the rain is threatening the fruit condition and some orchards are hiring helicopters to blow away moisture from the fruit to avoid cherry splitting.
Source: World Fresh Exports

After the rain, the trees are soaked throughout. Flying a helicopter just above the treetops produces a downwash of air and turbulence which blows most of the rainwater off the leaves and cherries.

Helicopters can dry an acre of cherries in about five minutes. However, the cost is between $1,000 and $1,600 per hour of flying time, explained Sukhpaul Bal, cherry grower and president of the B.C. Cherry Association to CBC News.

“We have had 2-3 days of light rain, however less than 1MM and we have had helicopters available in case they are needed,” said Ricky Chong, Director at World Fresh Exports, to Smartcherry.

The company is packing at three facilities this season in Oliver (South), Summerland (Central) and Kelowna (North) regions allowing them to accurately monitor quality throughout the cherry regions in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia.

Source: World Fresh Exports

Firmness and good sizing

World Fresh Exports had begun the season with the Tieton variety, the cool weather has been ideal for firmness and good sizing. “We are seeing very nice cherry quality in the orchards and overall cherry sizing is averaging one row size smaller due to the unusual warm weather in early June. However, that seems to be changing as we have been experiencing unseasonably cool weather since last week Friday,” stated Chong.

“Our field inspectors have been visiting cherry orchards spanning approximately 170 kms (Osoyoos to Vernon, BC) and we expect to begin harvesting the southern region (Oliver, BC) Santina and Cristalina varieties in the coming days, followed by the Lapins and Skeena varieties”, he explained.

Growers are expecting to start volumes approximately July 10th, and continue harvesting until August 21st or perhaps till the end of the month if the weather allows to extend the season.

Source: World Fresh Exports

With Korean protocol this season and the post-pandemic recovery of China, “we expect to see healthy demand and volumes to Asia; followed by late shipments to the EU and Middle East,” finalized Chong.

95% of the cherries in Canada are grown in British Columbia (BC), having three regions with ideal growing conditions: The Okanagan Valley, the Similkameen Valley, and the Creston Valley.

Harvest begins in the South Okanagan in early or mid-June. As the summer goes on, cherries are harvested by variety, location, and altitude, finishing up at the beginning of September in the North Okanagan and Creston Valley.

Cover image source: BC Cherry Association

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