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fruit is vital, but so is production of fruit quality that will be sought-after on global markets.

“We can’t be complacent,” he commented. “We must offer top- quality fruit; fruit that is flawless.” With a good winter and spring and heavy bloom, following a light crop last year, it’s forecast there will be a big crop this year, so it’s especially important that in a competitive marketplace, quality is tops.

“There’ll also be new plantings coming in this year, so there will be more fruit available. The industry is expanding,” Bal warned. Far more growers are

participating this year in the second pilot of shipments to China, even though some restrictions continue to be in place, but Bal said he’s hopeful if all goes well, full access will be granted by the Chinese authorities by 2015 at all access points in the country.

It’s hoped a permanent agreement will be signed during a trade mission to China in June by federal

agriculture minister Gerry Ritz. Inspectors from China are

expected in the Okanagan the first two weeks in August, at the peak of the season, but those growers who have been certified will be permitted to ship prior to that visit. Chinese authorities still have

concerns about cherry fruit fly, so the BCCA has brought in 10,000 yellow sticky traps for growers to use in monitoring populations, said Bal. Because of the large volume, the association was able to get the traps at a far better price than normally. “They’re a fraction of the price we paid last year,” he said.

“It’s a good example of the ways in which the association can benefit growers,” he noted.

The traps must be changed every two weeks and monitoring will be coordinated by a student hired by the association, he said, with the data put on a spreadsheet for both the Chinese delegates and the CFIA to access easily.

Growers wanting to ship to China still must segregate cherries in a

separate cooler and they need to be able to load the fruit into containers within that facility, sealed off, noted Bal. It’s a condition that hampers small growers from participating, but it’s an issue he’s not confident will be changed in future.

Bal grows cherries on 50 acres on

Highway 33 in Kelowna, but plans to double that next year. The family also runs a packinghouse, farm market and cafe on the property. Other changes this year on the BCCA executive include the move of former president Christine Dendy to treasurer, replacing (Dr.) David H. Geen, who remains on the board; and continuation of David A. Geen of Jealous Fruits and Coral Beach Farms as Market Access Chair. Remaining on the board are secretary Graem Nelson, research chair Hank Markgraf, Greg Norton, Andre Bailey, Ravi Dhaliwal, Chris Danninger, Joe Hart, Manjinder Khela, Bill Sandhers, Gordon Sandhu, Don Westcott and Dr. Peter Toivonen from the Pacific Agri-food Research Centre.


British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Summer 2014

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