A visit to a high-density Ambrosia and Honeycrisp orchard overlooking the upper stretches of Okanagan Lake brought the International Fruit Tree Association summer tour in British Columbia to a conclusion on Wednesday, July 25.
Dorenberg Orchards, a third-generation farm in Lake Country north of Kelowna, was one of the first to gamble on Ambrosia, a signature British Columbia variety, in the late 1990s, when stalwart varieties such as Red Delicious and McIntosh were losing money. The 55-acre orchard has 20 acres in Ambrosia.
At one point the variety turned a profit of $1,000 a bin for Dorenberg, said president Madeleine van Roechoudt. However, the patent has expired on Ambrosia meaning the niche may wear out for British Columbia growers, where lucrative new club varieties are hard to come by with the region’s small acreages.
The region’s industry sits at a cross roads, with most growers asking, “Where do I go from here,” van Roechoudt said.
Also on Wednesday, Brian Witzke and his son Shayne discussed the clearwing moth pest, a borer that burrows into roots and lower trunks and favors the hot, dry climate of the Okanagan Valley. It has been in area for about 12 years.
The Witzkes spray Altacor (chlorantraniliprole) often for clearwing moths. They usually try to cover the whole tree.
“If I’m going to go after this thing, then I’m really going to go after it,” Brian Witzke said.