Floods and Fires Affecting the Ambrosia Apple Orchards
It’s been a crazy year for weather in southern BC so we thought we’d check in with an Ambrosia apple farmer to see how the flooding and fires have affected their crop.
In case you aren’t from British Columbia, Canada, here’s a little information about the weather conditions we’ve been facing. We started the year off in southern BC with significant snowfall. Then, the spring brought record-level rainfall. That, along with the melting snow, resulted in severe flooding in several areas where Ambrosia apples are grown – including the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys. The lakes were so flooded that the ground water started to seep up in some of the lower lying orchards!
Almost as soon as we switched over to summer, we started to get extremely hot and dry conditions which have led to forest fires across the entire province. At one point, there were over 200 fires raging affecting more than 35,000 hectares of land. The smoke from these fires settled into the valleys making it difficult to work in the orchard.
But what does all of this mean for the Ambrosia crop this year and for Ambrosia farmers? Julie Sardinha is an Ambrosia grower in Summerland, BC. Her orchard is quite a ways up from the lake so she hasn’t been affected by the floods directly.
However, the smoke in the valley and the high temperatures have impacted the work in the orchard. She told us there were a few days when they should have been finishing up the hand thinning but just couldn’t be outside in the heat and smoke. “We have to keep our workers healthy,” she said of the few days they didn’t work.
In the orchard, she’s watering the trees a little more than normal, saying, “We have to keep giving them water due to the heat.”
Despite the challenging conditions, things look good for the harvest. “Everything seems to be sizing well,” she reports of her Ambrosia apples, adding, “a hot year does create delicious fruit – sweet, juicy fruit!”
And, when will we see that fruit in the stores? She suspects that harvest will be a little later than normal but because the last few years have been earlier than normal, it might seem like a long wait.
Julie hopes to start picking in late September or early October. However, there are a few months between now and then so she’ll check the maturity along the way and let the apples dictate when they’re ready to be harvested.
We will keep you posted!