Crop insurance adjusters are now dealing with “well over 1,000” notices of loss following the late June heat wave, and tree fruit growers face tough decisions come harvest regarding which fruit gets shipped.
To prepare them for the choices and the financial relief available to them, the BC Fruit Growers Association and BC Cherry Association teamed up for a webinar on July 27 that attracted close to 70 growers and industry representatives. Approximately 81% of participants in a survey during the event said they had filed notices of loss.
Temperatures reached 45° Celsius in Kelowna in late June but even temperatures in the mid 30s – such as those expected this week – can harm fruit as the surface temperature can be as much as 10 degrees warmer.
While signs of heat damage and sunburn may be noticeable now, most growers will face challenges determining the impact on ripe fruit as damage may be less noticeable as varieties colour up.
“You will have some very important decisions to make when it comes to shipping your fruit,” BCFGA general manager Glen Lucas told growers.
Beyond the cost of the lost crop, he noted that growers will also get hit by the cost of labour to pick poor-quality fruit, the cost of returned fruit and chargebacks on packing costs.
To help growers avoid picking the wrong fruit and shipping it to packers who may reject it, Hao Xu, a plant physiologist with the Summerland Research and Development Centre says growers will need to employ multiple parameters to guide harvest decisions this year.
“We recommend that you measure the sorbitol content, dry matter and firmness,” she said. “And when you do the measurement, make sure you are picking normally sized-up fruits with no obvious heat injury.”
Growers who have filed a notice of loss regarding crops may still attempt to ship fruit to packers. If the packer rejects it, Kelowna-based claims manager Phil Croteau says adjusters need to know it as soon as possible.
“Getting that information from the broker is something you need to loop us in on,” he says. “What happens usually after that we try to determine exactly why the broker is rejecting that fruit.”
With a limited number of adjusters going flat-out to respond to claims this year, Croteau urged growers to file information as soon as they fear a loss and have additional information.
“Our adjusters are going full-out to get out to you guys,” he said. “We certainly need your help, and communication is key here.”