Rain forces drastic measures

Unprecedented efforts are underway to save the North Okanagan’s cherry crop.

Unprecedented efforts are underway to save the North Okanagan’s cherry crop.

Virtual non-stop rain threatens to split clusters of cherries just waiting to be harvested. As a result, growers are using helicopters and fans to salvage the crop and any attempt of pocketing some revenue.

“It’s an endless battle to try and keep the cherries dry,” said Sid Sidhu, with Vernon’s Bella Vista Farm Market.

“Once they are split, the cherries are absolutely useless.”

Late-season varieties like lapins were developed to escape the Okanagan’s traditional early July thunderstorms, but this summer’s uncharacteristic wet weather has orchardists frustrated.

“If this is an indication of July, what will August bring?” said Sidhu.

A common scene at the Bella Vista Road farm over the last few days has been a helicopter using its large blades to generate wind and push the water off the fruit. Orchard workers are also spending considerable time sorting through the cherries to ensure there is sufficient supply for the market’s customers.

Whether it’s the “thousands” on the helicopter, or the increased wages, Sidhu admits this year’s cherry crop is increasingly expensive.

“The more we spend on cherries, the less we make but we still have to pay the bills,” he said of why he continues to harvest the crop.

“It’s a fight worth fighting especially when there is an excellent crop.”

There’s a similar situation down Highway 97 at Gatzke Orchards in Oyama, where the rain damage ranges from 15 to 60 per cent depending on the variety.

Every attempt is being made to remove rain off the fruit, including renting a helicopter for $1,200 an hour, blowers attached to tractors and wind machines.

“None of the options are cheap. The helicopter is probably the cheapest,” said owner Alan Gatzke, adding that a wind machine can eat through $500 a night in gas and the blowers require staff to drive the tractors.

“On Wednesday night, we were out from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. blowing the rain off.”

At times it almost seems like an endless routine.

“We’re still taking on damage with everything we’re doing,” said Gatzke.

But Gatzke and his family are also being creative and trying to find ways to use some of the damaged cherries.

“We’re making pies like crazy,” he said.

 

 

 

-Vernon Morningstar

Just Posted

Salvation Army unveils Kelowna’s new mobile community response unit

The mobile kitchen unit will be able to provide 3,000 meals a day during times of disaster

UBC Okanagan, RCMP collab for study on reporting child abuse

A fundraising gala will present a UBCO psych student’s research on how and when abuse is reported

Rockets’ Novak receives 8-game suspension

Novak was penalized for a checking-from-behind penalty on Nov.11

Kelowna rental rates least expensive among major B.C. cities

The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom unit in Kelowna is $1,233

Rockets help Team WHL to comeback win at Canada Russia Series

Kelowna skaters helped Team WHL to a 2-1 overtime win in game one of the two game series

Gym enthusiasts invited to get in gear for kids

Spin4Kids Saturday at GoodLife Fitness

North Okanagan mom cherishes life-saving alert dog

Carrie Lemay, single mom and a diabetic, welcomed Freckles, an alert guide dog, into her life

Dream funds serve up dream kitchen for Okanagan organization

CMHA upgrades space thanks to Kalamalka Dream Auction donation

Shuswap resident seeks return of stolen jewelry box containing father’s cremated remains

Sicamous RCMP report handmade box was taken from a storage locker

Province commits to supporting Indigenous tourism growth in B.C.

The Indigenous Tourism Accord signed during conference in Kelowna

‘It’s been 12 years’: Father of murdered B.C. real estate agent pleads for mayor’s help

Lindsay Buziak was stabbed to death on Feb. 2, 2008 in Saanich. Her case is unsolved.

Radon levels in new Salmon Arm home a concern

Real-time monitoring shows radon concentration just within federally accepted guideline

B.C. First Nation Chief Ed John faces historic sex charges

John served as minister for children and families under then-premier Ujjah Dosanjh

Vernon councillor suggests homeless set up camp at city hall

Overnight camping in city parks is only permitted between dusk and 9 a.m. in specific parks

Most Read