B.C. fruit likely to be in short supply and expensive this year: produce retailers

For many western Canadians, feasting on peaches, cherries and other fresh fruit from the Okanagan is one of the highlights of the summer.

But produce retailers say due to some extreme temperature swings in the B.C. interior in January, they’re being forced to look elsewhere for fresh fruit this year.

The growers call it a perfect storm. First the region was hit by unseasonably warm weather that caused fruit trees to start budding, then there was a sudden plunge in temperatures to around -27 C that killed off the buds, decimating this year’s fruit crop.

“About three weeks ago I got a call from one of my main growers and he said he couldn’t find one blossom on any of his trees,” says Sharla Dube, owner of the Cherry Pit in Calgary, who says she normally sells truckloads of fresh B.C. fruit each summer.

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“What people are saying is that there aren’t going to be any peaches, nectarines or apricots or soft-stoned fruit from the B.C. region.”

Jennifer Deol, the co-owner of There and Back Again Farms, stands near the farm’s peach orchard in Kelowna, B.C., on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. B.C. farmers are predicting at least a 90 per cent loss of this summer’s harvest of fruit including peaches, apricots and nectarines.

Aaron Hemens / The Canadian Press

“We will outsource to different places that we don’t normally buy from.  In Ontario there’s lots of peaches.  In Washington there’s lots of peaches. So I’m assuming we will have peaches for the  season,” Dube said.

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But will the fruit be as good?

“I’m kinda biased because I think B.C has the best fruit in North America,” explained Dube.

While it was initially feared the cherry crop would suffer the same fate as other fruit, it appears there will be a small crop of cherries available from the south Okanagan, around Oliver and Osoyoos.

Click to play video: 'Okanagan cherry growers predicting drastic reduction in 2024 crop'

Okanagan cherry growers predicting drastic reduction in 2024 crop

“It may be a little more  pricey but because there’s not a lot of fruit on the trees (but) hopefully the cherries will be bigger and more fabulous,” says Dube.

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“The good news for  B.C. is the trees weren’t damaged, so we are hoping that next year they will have a banger year.”

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