BC’s apple harvest is in full swing, and early estimates indicate a slightly smaller crop but high-quality fruit.
Overall production is expected to be down about 10% this year, thanks in part to a 5% decline in acreage as well as weather.
The growing season in the Interior started about two weeks later than usual and cold weather in November and December 2022 impacted trees, says BC Fruit Growers Association general manager Glen Lucas. Some orchards in Keremeos suffered hail damage midway through the season.
High spring temperatures affected yields in some varieties, too.
“The warm spring, I feel like that is one of the reasons we have low tonnage,” says Mani Gill of Gill Family Orchards in Kelowna. “It was way too warm at 30°C that a lot of the blooms just dried up and the fruit didn’t get pollinated properly.”
Gill grows Gala, Ambrosia, Spartan, Granny Smith, Honey Crisp and Red Delicious varieties.
BCFGA initially anticipated a normal harvest this year, which is the case for some growers. Yield seems to depend on the area, with some producers dealing with significantly lower production, while others are in their normal ranges.
“It’s quite variable between varieties, between locations in the valley, within orchards,” Lucas says, noting that even individual trees have chequered production. “It’s quite a variable year.”
At Gill’s operation, yields vary block by block.
“The Granny crop looks good, overall, everything looks good,” he says. “The Ambrosia is probably the one that got hit the hardest. The tonnage looks like it’s lower than previous years.”
Some farmers in Vernon have suffered complete losses on their Ambrosia trees, he adds.
However, Lucas predicts an “outstanding” year for colour, and he has not heard of any quality issues due to low light, pests or disease.
“Quality is great,” Gill confirms. “We’ve had awesome weather in September – nice warm days and cool nights, so that’s helped a lot with the colour and sugars in the apples.”
Last year, the province harvested a total of 83,143 tons of fresh apples, the smallest crop of the past decade.