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Cold snap hammers Okanagan orchards: report

Fruit growers in British Columbia’s Okanagan are reporting substantial damage to their orchards this spring due to unseasonably cold weather and a recent hard freeze, the Globe and Mail reported Wednesday.

Joe Sardinha, president of the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association, told the Globe’s Cathryn Atkinson that despite the damage, he did not expect the cost of fruit to rise significantly.

Peaches and plums would not be affected and grape damage would be minimal, Sardinha told the Toronto newspaper, but he estimated the apple crop would be down by 10 to 15 per cent; pears down by 15 to 20 per cent; cherries likely down by 30 to 40 per cent; and apricots by 20 to 50 per cent.

Damage, however, has varied widely from location to location, he said. Some cherry and apricot growers, whose orchards were the worst hit by the cold, told the paper they believe as much as 90 per cent of their fruit has died or been damaged.

Those crops were in full flower, the Globe said, when snow fell on them and overnight lows in the region dropped to -6°C between April 18 and 20.

Grape, apple and peach producers reported that flowering has taken place two to three weeks later than normal, the paper said. One winemaker said if his Okanagan-area vines had flowered on schedule they would have met the same fate as many cherry and apricot crops.

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