Cherry Association AGM

Bal back as board chair

Prospects for new markets look promising, but growers told to take nothing for granted. By Susan McIver


uhkpaul Bal was elected to another term as president of the B.C. Cherry Association at its February annual general meeting in Kelowna. “I’m very pleased with how the board has been working this past year and in the possibility of new markets in the near future,” Bal said in his address to the gathering.

He spoke of the association’s goal to ensure cherries are one of the premier crops in Canada. Bal also said the Canadian Food Inspection agency has adopted the association’s market access committee model as the standard for its commodity groups. “We’re doing something


Erin Carlson was elected as the new treasurer, David A. Geen returned as vice- president and Graem Nelson as secretary.

Suhkpaul Bal

David H. Geen, Ravi Dhaliwal, Neal Van der Helm, Chris Danninger, Andre Bailey, Dariel Trottier and Hank Markgraf were elected as board members.

New to the board, Trottier is the president of Consolidated Fruit Packers. Plans to export cherries to Korea “are moving more quickly than we thought with a pilot project possible in 2019,” said David A. Geen, who chairs the market access committee. Canadian blueberries are already being sold in Korea which could facilitate access of cherries to that market.

“Japan is an upcoming market, but it is too early to comment,” Geen said. However, he did say that Japanese government officials and industry leaders are being consulted and that a


pilot project is likely within a year or so.

An experienced broker, Nelson said flavour is the key to success in the international cherry market. “In China the focus is on flavour. Large, firm, well- coloured cherries are now taken for granted,” he said. Flavourful

cherries are in fact the edge Canadian growers have over their American


Erin Carlson, left, with her five-month old daughter and Kenna MacKenzie, associate director of the Summerland Research and Development Centre, attended the cherry association meeting. A Summerland grower, Carlson is the association’s new treasurer.

competitors, according to Nelson. Geen cautioned that the Chinese market should not be taken for granted.

“The CFIA is concerned about our trapping and monitoring program. We will tighten them up,” he said.

GroSpurt, a Canadian

company that produces GS-4, a plant growth hormone, gave the association a cheque of $15,760 to assist with its numerous research projects.

Research reports at the

Kelowna meeting included information on the genetic-based Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technique of rapid testing for viruses of imported tree fruit varieties.

Erin Wallich, research manager for the Summerland Varieties Corporation, presented results of work being conducted by Michael Rott at the Centre for Plant Health (CPH) in Sidney. Wallich said NGS promises to reduce quarantine testing time from 2-3 years to a few months and to detect viruses in low concentration that could elude detection by previously used techniques. Current work focuses on validating the NGS protocol developed by CPH and proving the effectiveness of NGS as a viable alternative for identifying virus infection in imported varieties. NGS is seen as a potential significant step in helping Canadian growers

British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Spring 2018

compete in the international market and in safeguarding plant resources in Canada.

In 2016 Gayle Jesperson of the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture found a small number of sick Staccato trees in a Central Okanagan orchard.

The symptoms appeared virus-like— malformed mottled, tufted leaves and significant dieback—but were not typical of any known virus disease.

NGS done at the Sidney labs revealed three viruses previously unreported in Canada—cherry leaf roll, strawberry latent ringspot and prunus virus F. Three other viruses—little cherry virus 1, cherry virus A and prune dwarf virus—known to occur in B.C. were also found.

“The CFIA is in the process of optimizing and validating tests for cherry leaf roll virus,” Jesperson said. “Dry matter does matter. It’s a good predictor of cherry sweetness,” said Peter Toivonen, post-harvest physiologist at the Summerland Research and Development Centre. Sweetness is a major contributor to flavour which is low when cherries are harvested too late.

“It appears for Sweetheart the limit is about 20 percent dry matter, over which cherries do not preserve flavour as well during shipping,” Toivonen said. In recent years, several non- destructive devices, such as the delta absorbance meter and F-750

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