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North Okanagan cherry crops take bigger hit than south

Fortune favoured the southerners for the 2019 Okanagan cherry season as heavy rain in the north could split upwards of 30 per cent more cherries than those in the south, according to farmers in the Okanagan.
 
Over the past two weeks, cherry farmers have been fending off rain droplets as if they were a warrior tribe set on the agricultural domination of the Okanagan Valley.
 
Penny Gambell at Gambell Farms in Lake Country had her son combat the rain with hand dryers; Shelley Kempf at Kempf Orchards in Kelowna had to basically watch and take note of the damage done and cherries lost; Bhupinder Dhaliwal, President of the BC Fruit Growers’ Association said some farmers are using mitigation tactics such as sheaths of film to keep the cherries from soaking in the devilish pellets; and Rob Van Westen from Van Westen Vineyards in Penticton has ordered a helicopter three times to air-dry 22 acres of cherries.
 
“With some good prevention tactics,” Van Westen said his vineyards should have a good pickin’ season, starting on Thursday, with only 15 to 20 per cent split cherries. “(It’s) not a cheap operation, that’s for sure.”
 
Meanwhile at Kempf Orchards, Shelley and Herb Kempf are currently going through the process of filing for crop insurance through the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture.
 
“It’ll never ever be what your crop is worth,” Shelley said, reeling in thoughts of past experiences with faulty insurance claims, she managed to stay a little hopeful at least. “It’s a new program, we don’t know (what the process will be).”
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