Trade and research were the topics at the annual meeting of the BC Cherry Association in Kelowna on March 3.
The industry has grown substantially in the last 15 years, thanks to the opening of export markets. China, Japan and California are now major buyers of BC cherries.
“But we need to continue to diversify those markets,” says David Geen, the association’s vice-president and chair of its market access committee. “Diversification is our lifeblood.”
Geen noted that association president Sukhpal Bal couldn’t attend the meeting as he was on a trade mission to India. The association is also awaiting access to South Korea and renegotiating pest protocols with the European Union, which adopted a systems-based approach to import certification last September.
Cherries developed at the Summerland Research and Development Centre are the backbone of the industry and growers heard an update from Nick Ibuki of Summerland Varieties Corp., which licenses new varieties to growers, on new cherry varieties currently in pre-commercial trials.
Agriculture and Agri-food Canada researchers Kelly Ross and Peter Toivonen gave updates on their work on harvest timing and fruit selection for best flavour and quality during storage and shipping.
BC Ministry of Agriculture entomologist Susanna Acheampong noted the slow spread of Brown Marmorated Stink Bug through downtown Kelowna towards orchards, where it has yet to become established.
Acheampong’s federal counterpart, Paul Abram, was pleased to announce the discovery of two species of parasitoid wasps in the Lower Mainland this summer. Native to Asia, the wasps prey on the larvae of another major fruit pest, Spotted Wing Drosophila. Abram said the new species may be important in controlling SWD in the future.