Sukhpal Bal, the President of the BC Cherry Association, is quite optimistic about this year's cherry crops. General manager of the BC Fruit Growers' Association, Glen Lucas, echoed that sentiment, adding that a trend that has seen some growers exit the apple business in favor of cherries or grapes has continued. "About 15 per cent of apple crops have been removed in our area as farmers switch to more profitable crops, like cherries or grapes.”
Farmer Alan Gatzke from Oyama believes that number is even higher, especially if you go back over a five-year period, and in the Penticton area in particular. The transition started years before the COVID-19 pandemic added multiple layers of added expenses for farmers, plus extra difficulties finding and hiring workers.
However, compared to last year the outlook this season is rosy, "it's very encouraging to see all the blossoms. last season hardly any blossoms appeared because of the cold damage," says Bal. He also thinks that last year's low volume of crops may be a blessing in disguise. "Trees were able to rest a bit and provide more energy towards this season's crop." In fact, Bal is hopeful that this year could see record volumes.