B.C. fruit growers honored
Greg Norton, winner of the Soft Fruit Award.
Third-generation orchardist Greg Norton of Oliver, British Columbia, Canada, and his wife Chris received the Soft Fruit Award for 2011 from the B.C. Fruit Growers Association at the recent B.C. Tree Fruit Horticultural Symposium.
Avtar and Ronnie Mann of Vernon received the Golden Apple Award, and Rawd Potter of Summerland received the Compact Orchard Award.
Nominations for the awards are submitted by field horticulturists and pest management consultants. A team of judges visits orchards during the growing season and reviews yields and packouts from the orchards during the winter before selecting the award winners.
Greg Norton’s grandfather planted the first 13 acres of orchard in 1926. In 1960, Greg’s father took over the farm, with Greg helping out during the summer and after school. Greg took over in 1988 and Chris became involved. The Nortons replaced the unprofitable apples with cherries and peaches. They now have 20 acres of cherries and 6 acres of peaches. In 2011, they produced about 9,000 cartons of cherries of which 90 percent were 8.5 to 9.5-row. They keep their production at moderate levels to maximize sweetness and other fruit quality attributes. They have their own packing line and market the fruit through Graeme Nelson. About half their fruit is exported and the rest is sold in western Canada. They also sell dried cherries via the Internet.
Greg is past president of the Okanagan Kootenay Cherry Growers Association, is vice chair of Ardcorp, chair of the Agriculture Environmental Protection Committee for the B.C. Agriculture Council and a past director of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.
Avtar and Ronnie Mann worked for David Geen at Coral Beach Farms before leasing their first orchard in 2005. They now have 17.5 acres of orchard and a 1.5-acre nursery.
They believe strongly in pruning, both in the dormant season and summer and follow a nutrient program based on soil, leaf, and fruitlet analysis. In 2011, they produced 84 bins per acre of Ambrosia and 72 bins per acre of Gala with outstanding grade and size, reported Jim Campbell with the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture.
Rawd Potter grew up in the orchard industry and has 17 acres of apples and pears. He grows Ambrosia, Gala, and Spartan apples, and earned the Compact Orchard Award on the basis of his Ambrosia block, which has 2,900 trees per acre. It yielded 68 bins per acre in 2011 with 91 percent of the fruit graded Extra Fancy and 87 percent in large sizes.