By NICHOLAS JOHANSEN
KELOWNA — Almost twice as many apples have been sent to retail this summer compared to this time last year, thanks to favourable growing conditions.
This summer's growing season has been similar to last year's – roughly seven to 10 days earlier than average. However, the actual size of this year's harvest has been substantially larger than 2015.
“The size of the crop is larger this year, as far as overall volume and size of the fruit,” said Chris Pollock, with BC Tree Fruits. “We've already shipped over 40,000 cartons already this year to retail.”
Pollock says the size of the apple crop should continue to increase in the next five years, as replanting of newer apple varieties come to harvest.
“We will really start to see volumes increase because of a lot of the replanting programs that have been put in place by the government that our growers are taking advantage of,” Pollock said. “It takes about three to five years for you to start seeing good volume off these trees when they're replanted.”
While harvesting of early varieties of apples like sunrise began in mid-July, more popular varieties like royal gala, McIntosh and honeycrisp have just recently been picked.
BC Tree Fruits released their Broken Ladder apple cider in April 2015, using fruit that wouldn't be suitable going to market.
“If it's got some bruising, absolutely, something that's not going to be suitable for the fresh market but still provides a good value back to our grower base in terms of returns,” Pollock said.
BC Tree Fruits has continued to expand their cider offerings, with pear and hopped apple ciders released this spring. They have recently begun experimenting with local peaches as well.
BC Tree Fruits is a co-operative owned by about 500 grower families in the Okanagan-Similkameen.