British Columbia experienced warm weather during cherry bloom. “One morning, the trees started blooming and by the next day, we were at 100 percent bloom,” says Julie McLachlan with Jealous Fruits. A so-called flash bloom is very uncommon, and the impact is significant. Usually, about 10 to 15 percent of the flowers start blooming daily and the percentage increases day by day until the orchard has reached 100 percent bloom after about five to seven days. “This year, the heat caused everything to open all at once, which resulted in a shorter bloom period,” McLachlan commented. “As a result, the bees didn’t have enough time to pollinate the flowers.”
“The trees are certainly not overcropped this year and we are seeing a more moderate crop set”. However, this also means cherries are expected to be bigger in size and contain higher sugar levels than normal. Jealous Fruits experienced a light drop in their orchards. Nevertheless, production volumes for the company are expected to be up 30 to 35 percent over 2022 as new blocks have come into production. “We’re in a fortunate position with new production coming along this year.”
Block with Staccato cherries at Lower Oyama Lake.
At the current stage, cherries are forming on the trees. It’s the critical stage where all the energy goes into the pit hardening. Based on current projections, harvest for Jealous Fruits’ early blocks is expected to start with small volumes between July 5 and 7. This will be followed by the main harvest around July 20th that will continue through the end of August, early September.
When asked if there will be enough labor available to harvest the cherries, McLachlan said the number of foreign workers has increased this year. “The majority of our workers come from Guatemala and Mexico, and we received a higher number of allocations this year, so we are well staffed. Our workers come in under Canadian government sponsored programs that allow us to bring these valuable employees into Canada, season after season.” In addition, this is the first year since Covid for Canadian backpackers to be interested in picking cherries again. “We will have a lot more Canadian pickers compared to the last few years,” she said.
Demand for British Columbia’s (BC) cherries is expected to be strong this year. With Washington volumes tapering off in late July, it should make for a nice transition to BC fruit. In addition to strong US demand, exports are expected to be solid as well. An exciting development is that Canadian growers have full access to South Korea under an approved Systems Approach instead of fumigation which will allow for fresher arrivals.
“2022 was a pilot season with South Korea and the 2023 season is open to all registered Canadian shippers,” said McLachlan. With Korean Thanksgiving and the Chinese Moon Festival both being celebrated the weekend of September 29, she expects strong cherry shipments to both countries. “It’s perfect time for the cherries that will be harvested the last two weeks of August.” In addition, other export destinations include Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, and the Middle East.
The Regina and Staccato varieties are both very popular in the offshore markets. “We are the largest shipper of Regina in Canada. It’s our flagship variety, available from late July through early August. Staccato is our largest variety and available through August. We expect high demand for both varieties from overseas,” McLachlan finished.
Photos of Regina variety, taken May 31.
Click below for Jealous Fruits' most recent crop update.