Tree fruit growers in British Columbia, Canada, are planting cherries in places where they won’t pick until mid-September.
Late-season varieties and climate change are pushing new cherry orchards north and uphill in the Okanagan Valley, participants of the International Fruit Tree Association’s summer tour learned Tuesday, June 24.
Coral Beach Farms, one of the largest cherry growers in British Columbia with 900 or so acres, has relatively young plantings in the upper reaches of the valley where 20 years ago people assumed cherries could not grow.
One is on a former cattle ranch outside of Coldstream, a small community at the north end of Kalamalka Lake, roughly 50 kilometers north of Kelowna. Another is at nearby Winfield. Yet another is the El Dorado orchard, 98 acres at 2,600 feet — perhaps the highest cherry orchard in Canada.
The company won’t start picking that one until early or even mid-September, said Craig Dalgliesh, one of the company’s orchard managers.
“I don’t think we’re brave enough to go much higher,” he said.
The company’s most common variety is Staccato, but it also grows Regina, Lapins and Sweethearts.
Other topics at the Coral Beach properties included V-trellis systems, using toothpicks as branch training props and the differences between accommodations for backpacking seasonal employees and foreign guest workers.
The tour also visited an agritainment orchard with a juice press, farm store and tours.
The IFTA tour continues tomorrow with visits to high density orchards of Honeycrisp and Ambrosia, British Columbia’s signature apple variety.