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Guest Column

Collective effort needed to meet challenges with effective strategies.


he “B.C. Cherry Industry” is a motley crew of producers, the amalgamated co-op, over 20

private packing houses and various marketers, including B.C. Tree Fruits, brokers and producers or packers marketing directly. We have the B.C. Fruit Growers’

Association, which is well positioned to help a lot with many aspects of industry issues, particularly with respect to government programs, but has been somewhat preoccupied with apples, the Co-op, and B.C. Tree Fruits. We have the Okanagan Kootenay

Cherry Growers’ Association, which has worked well with PARC and other researchers to respond to research priorities and has ventured into other

By Christine Dendy Cherry industry is at a pivotal point

areas as the need arose. And we have a lot of

new cherry growers who have either converted from apples or bought cherry orchards, with or without experience or plan for how they will get their fruit packed and marketed.

Institutions rightly evolve along with

the industries they stand to serve. Our industry is growing and changing fast, and at a strategic development stage where we can either decide to take stock and collectively build our organizational strength, or we can continue to do our own things, hoping past successes will carry us along and someone, somewhere, will look after the other stuff that needs doing. The Pacific Northwest Cherry

Growers are currently planning a referendum to generate close to a

million dollars in mandatory research levies, while here in B.C. we modestly ask for voluntary contributions and generate about $40,000 (how Canadian!). It is a modest start, and we gratefully

get a fair amount done with this when we partner it with other available funds. But we need to do more. 2012 has been a tough year and returns may have been disappointing, but this is even more reason get our industry working together on more research and other issues (like China trade access) so we don’t get left in the dust. This winter gives us time to get some

work done. Please take some time now to renew your membership in the OKCGA, send in your research levy contribution, and get your cherry- growing neighbours to join too. Get involved. This is our business. This industry will be what we make it. Nobody else is going to do it for us. Enjoy some rest! 2013 is on its way!

FruitSize can bring many happy returns By Judie Steeves


rowers can benefit in more ways than one or two when they buy FruitSize for improved fruit quality.

It took the Okanagan Kootenay Cherry Growers

Association more than six years of research to get to the point it is now with the fertilizer, explains OKCGA president Christine Dendy, a Kelowna cherry grower. Originally, FruitSize was registered as a pesticide, even

though it wasn’t used against bugs. It was used to maintain fruit quality and delay ripening for about a week, but keep cherries firm and growing. Its generic name is gibberellic acid or GA and it acts as

a plant growth regulator. At first in Canada, one company had a monopoly on sales, and prices for it were very high—three times what orchardists paid in other countries, Dendy said. Gene Hogue, a researcher at the Pacific Agri-food

Research Centre in Summerland, worked for the OKCGA on the effects of GA and its growth impacts on cherries As a result, and in partnership with TerraLink Horticulture Inc., growers succeeded in getting it registered as a fertilizer rather than a pesticide about four years ago. Since then, production and distribution has been

organized by that company, with all royalties from sales of the product to cherry growers going back to growers through the OKCGA for more research. In the process, the lower price has saved growers


leveraged into additional research financing, with senior government providing funds from such programs as the Developing Innovative Agri-Products (DIAP) program. However, last year, the competition dropped their price

on GA so the returns to growers from FruitSize were much less, said Dendy, in the area of $6,000. “Cherry growers need to purchase FruitSize for the

returns,” noted Dendy. The OKCGA received nearly $32,000 in royalties from its sales in 2009 and $24,500 in 2010. “It’s huge for us, and we totally rely on a volunteer

grower levy for our research, so all additional funds growers can add to the pot makes a big difference.” Sales of FruitSize also provide a stable income source

with which cherry growers can apply for matching DIAP funds for research projects. The program expects growers to plan five years ahead,

so a stable income is essential to access any funding, Dendy explains. This is difficult when the association never knows what it will have coming in from its membership. She urges all cherry growers to join the association, add

to the funds available for research and benefit from the research into cherry issues. For membership details, go to the website at:

British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Winter 2012-13

hundreds of thousands of dollars, improved cherry quality and brought returns to growers for further research, noted Dendy. Returns from FruitSize (this year’s was $22,000) can be

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