Un­pre­dictable weather not ex­pected to hurt fruit crops

Penticton Herald - - LIVING - By JOE FRIES

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

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