Pruning in the Snow
Barb and Reto Gebert pruning the Riesling vines during a blizzard at St. Hubertus Vineyard in Kelowna.
For most of us, January’s record snowfall was the most snow we’d ever seen in the Okanagan. Not for Fred Steele. “We’ve had significant snow fall like this before, I can remember the winter of 1949/50. Now that was destructive snow. It destroyed trees and they cracked and fell to the ground. There was quite a bit of snow then too,” Steele laughs. “Then again, I was a lot shorter back then.”
Most everyone agrees the snowfall was a blessing and a curse. The additional moisture is needed in the orchards and vineyards, but having this much snow on the ground for well over two weeks will make it more difficult for pruning purposes and clearing the suckers off the bottoms of trees.
The bumper crop of 2014 has also created a good thing/bad thing scenario. “It’s a stressful time for everyone because you don’t want to see prices bottom out,” said Steele. “The last I heard apple prices are doing okay. We haven’t had to resort to anti-dumping legislation, but the building blocks are in place.”
Bhupinder Dhaliwal hopes the 2014 bumper crop leads to a 2015 short fall. “There was a 25 - 40% increase in apple production this year. That’s 150 to 160 M boxes in the US last year alone. The situation is the same in Canada, about 25 - 40% extra. Next year, technically, should be a much lower crop because the trees will not flower as successfully. It’s a good thing market wise, because if we get two years of bumper crops we could have apples into the summer and that would not be a good thing for pricing.”
Although the prices are slightly lower it is reported that the packers are moving the apples nicely.
As for cherries, South America’s crop was damaged by bad weather. “If they can’t
supply all the cherries the customers want,” explained Dhaliwal, “they’ll look forward to eating the California and BC cherries and keep prices strong too.” ■