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Hail storm does little to Okanagan apple crop

September 14, 2009  By The Canadian Press


hailcloudSeptember
14m, 2009, Kelowna, BC – A hailstorm that cut a swath through the central
Okanagan last weekend shouldn'’t reduce this year’s apple crop, says
the valley’s fruit co-operative.



September
14m, 2009, Kelowna, BC – A hailstorm that cut a swath through the central
Okanagan last weekend shouldn'’t reduce this year’s apple crop, says
the valley’s fruit co-operative.

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hailcloud 
  

Pickers
will remove the bad fruit and drop it – a technique called sort picking, says
Hank Markgraf, field-service manager for the Okanagan Tree Fruit Co-operative.

The
effort is slow and tedious, he says, but while some orchards were badly hit,
most of the fall apple crop is salvageable.

Orchardists
were beaming about one of the best-quality apple crops in years, but that was
before the pea-sized hailstones rained down on east Kelowna and Rutland a week
ago.

Markgraf
says he watched the storm approach his area and swore at the sky but in the end
got only a few hailstone hits.

Softer
apples such as Macintosh, golden delicious and Spartans sustained the greatest
damage, while Ambrosias and red delicious were less visibly scarred.

The
onslaught lasted two to three minutes and the damaged area was only 250 metres
wide, says Markgraf.

Hail
damaged crops in Oliver recently and in Vernon earlier this summer. It can
happen any time, but is unusual this late in the year, said Joe Sardinha,
president of the B.C. Fruit Growers Association.

“Growers
already had their bins out ready to pick Macs and galas, and all of a sudden
they get damage,” he said.

"It
speaks to the risk we live with and the fact we pour a lot of effort into
growing fruit.''

Many
growers carry crop insurance, but it never compensates a producer for the full
value of a crop, he said.

The
Okanagan is expected to generate up to 3.8 million boxes of apples this year.

The
sunny weather this summer is an improvement over last year, when skies were
cloudier and pollination was a problem.


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