British Columbia’s cherry season was tough due to a dearth of workers. That same scenario is playing out for the apple industry in the Okanagan Valley.
The Kelowna Daily Courier reports that challenges are ongoing for the valuable apple sector which harvested 104,000 tonnes a year ago. Traditionally, about 1,500 to 2,000 young Quebeckers journey to the picturesque area each year, but only about half that number came in 2020. Compounding the situation, only 6,400 temporary foreign workers arrived in the province from Mexico and the Caribbean this year compared to about 10,000 a year ago.
The BC Tree Fruits Cooperative has 350 grower members, explains Laurel Van Dam, director of sales. “Each farm employs their own labour, so it’s hard to say how short things are. Some farms are better off than others.”
The cooperative is encouraging its members to begin picking as soon as apples and pears are ready. With less labour, there won’t be much opportunity to catch up on second picks as each variety matures.
“Overall, apple tonnage is in a good spot, though the average size of each piece of fruit looks to be smaller than normal years,” adds Van Dam.
Source: Kelowna Daily Courier September 2, 2020