Unpredictable weather not expected to hurt fruit crops
Neither a record-breaking dry spell, nor floods, nor dense smoke this summer is expected to have much of an impact on this year’s Okanagan fruit crop.
“Overall it was not very eventful in terms of rain causing crop problems or hail causing crop problems. Those are our two biggest risks, and that didn’t happen this year to any significant extent,” said Glen Lucas, general manager of the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association.
Intense heat, which causes fruit to stop growing, did reduce average cherry sizes and in turn depress prices, explained Lucas, but the same effect was noticed in Washington state, which is B.C.’s largest competitor. On the flip side, the lack of rain also meant fewer split cherries and more saleable fruit.
Apples, Lucas continued, which are also undersized due to the heat, are now colouring nicely as nighttime temperatures begin to dip.
He doesn’t expect heavy smoke from wildfires to impact the taste of B.C. fruit, and noted that in some cases the haze kept temperatures down and blocked sunlight from scalding product on the trees.
The apple harvest has already begun with the Sunrise variety, and is expected last through until the end of November when Pink Ladies are picked.
Those plucking the apples from branches can expect mild temperatures through the late stages of the fall, according to Michael Carter, a meteorologist for The Weather Network
While the Okanagan is currently taking a “well-earned break” from hot and dry summer conditions, he expects October to bring a return to the weather pattern that took hold in July and August.
“What that’s going to mean is probably a return to above-normal temperatures,” said Carter.
“Of course, as we get later into the fall that becomes less of a significant issue: Above-normal in July is a very, very different animal than above-normal in October, obviously.”
And a warm fall could also delay the arrival of winter cold and snow — for a little while, at least.
Carter said early indications point to a “less extreme” winter than last year, but “a little bit on the cold side” across the west.
Of course, as we get later into the fall that becomes less of a significant issue: Above-normal in July is a very, very different animal than above-normal in October, obviously. Michael Carter