apricots and one acre in plums,” Brar said. Harvey DeMelo of Osoyoos, who operates close to 200 acres of stone fruits, said there is another advantage to soft fruits, because there is less of an investment in equipment such as waxing machines and CA storage facilities. As well there is a quicker payoff because the fruit doesn’t lend itself to long-term storage.
Buck Barkwill of Summerland rears many of his own fruit trees in a small on-orchard nursery.
Panorama Orchards in Oliver, owned and operated by Jesse Brar, his wife and his sister and brother-in-law, is an example of such a diversified orchard. “Of our 40 acres approximately 16 are planted in peaches and nectarines, 12 in cherries, 7 in apples, 1.5 in
Growers are able to control pests of peaches and nectarines at a tolerable level with currently available
Summerland orchardist Ramesh Rikhi, right, sells all of his fruit to the Okanagan Tree Fruit Cooperative. Here, discusses operation of the orchard with his foreman Jagtaran Saran.
sprays and IPM techniques. “I get good control with a minimum number of sprays as compared to years ago, but the cost of the sprays has gone up considerably,” Wayne Richards said. Barkwill thinks existing IPM programs are satisfactory, but is on “pins and needles” about Spotted Wing Drosophila.
As with any crop, it’s important to keep current with practices and technology. Barkwill replanted his peach blocks with smaller trees in the 1990s and continues to replant a half- acre of his entire orchard each year. He is also double-lining his drip
irrigation system to determine if he can obtain a more even root spread and eventually produce more efficient trees. A downside to peaches, nectarines and apricots is the need for experienced pickers and the potential for damage to fruit with each step in the packaging process.
Many growers market their soft fruit independently through sales at produce stands, farm gate and to peddlers. Some truck their fruit to markets on the prairies or the Vancouver area themselves.
Rikhi sells his fruit to the OTFC while being critical of its operation. Deriving most of his income from construction
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Jesse Brar and his family, owners of Panorama Orchards in Oliver, raise a wide variety of soft fruits and apples. They sell the fruit at local produce stands, including their own and to truckers who distrubte it from the Vancouver area to as far east as Winnipeg.
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British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Fall 2011 15
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