Canada: Millions of apples rotting in Okanagan orchards

The ground of some orchards in East Kelowna -British Columbia- is covered by soon-to-be-spoiled apples.

In 50 years of farming, apple grower Julius Kish said he’s never seen a worse growing season. It started in the spring with hail and too much rain. At that point in time, apple growers struggled to find fruit pickers because the COVID-19 pandemic brought about a shortage of temporary foreign workers to tend the crops.

Kish is frustrated that his apples were left to rot because of a lack of fruit pickers, while many Canadians were sitting at home collecting $2,000 a month through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), he says.

The labour shortage was then followed by a record-breaking snowfall and the earliest cold snap Kish can remember seeing in his half-century of growing.

BC Tree Fruits director Amarjit Singh Lalli estimated that the cold snap froze at least 20,000 bins of apples, which works out to about 16 million pounds or more than seven million kilograms. Some apple orchardists will be out tens of thousands of dollars, he told 

“What will probably end up happening is the growers will not see a penny in insurance,” he said. “And that’s due to the fact that what ends up happening is the insurance companies are pooling all the money together.”

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