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Industry Profile
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Industry Profile

BC’s interior tree fruit industry is composed of 800 commercial family farms.

The Agriculture Census of 2021 reports that, of the 16,302 acres of tree fruits, apples account for 48% and cherries 38% of total acreage.

Okanagan tree fruit farms produce mainly cherries and apples, but also grow peaches, pears, apricots, nectarines and prune plums. The area has a dry, hot summer climate, with relatively mild winters needed for ‘fruit-set’. The BC tree fruit sector leads the world in the development of new, late season cherry varieties. The Similkameen Valley, adjoining the Okanagan, is the birthplace of the world-famous Ambrosia apple. The environmentally-friendly Sterile Insect Release Program for apples is unique to BC.

Tree Fruit sector operations and capital investments, directly and indirectly, contributed $162M to BC’s GDP in 2019, of which $98M was in contribution to labour income, and $19M was in provincial and municipal government revenues; it is also estimated that the sector sustained 2,490 jobs.Packing, processing, selling and transporting of tree fruits is the mainstay of several industries including local bin and tree post manufacturing, the fruit processing sector, export sales, and trucking.

The competitive advantage of the tree fruit industry is our intensive management and our low-pest population which is due to the Okanangan’s isolation and dry northern climate with abundant irrigation. New varieties of apples and cherries, developed at the federal Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre (PARC) in Summerland, are creating local opportunities and gaining widespread acceptance throughout the world. It is estimated that 80% of new cherry plantings in the world are of Summerland varieties.

BC fruit growers are at the forefront in new tree fruit technology, converting to high density new varieties as quickly as finances allow.

BC fruit growers are leaders in new environmentally friendly crop protection methods. We utilize highly-efficient irrigation systems to conserve and manage water, Integrated Pest Management, and other innovations such as area-wide programs for codling moth and starling control. We are pioneering the Sterile Insect Release (SIR) technology for one of the world’s worst apple and pear pests – the codling moth.

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