Canada: BC cherry exports could still be significant despite rain, says industry body

August 05 , 2019

Canada's British Columbia Cherry Association says export volumes could still be significant this season despite weather issues affecting production.

Rain and freezing weather this year have had a big impact on production; some industry sources estimate 50% of the total crop could have been damaged.

But Beth Cavers, BC Cherry Association program administrator, said the impact on exports might not be as pronounced.

"There are two issues this year; the deep freeze in February that froze a lot of buds and reduced the crop volume, and the rain that fell almost daily through the first half of July. 

"Reduced numbers of cherries on trees, however, means big fruit, and we are seeing cherries at 8-row size and larger. 

"The rain affected early and mid-season fruit. But most of our export cherries are later-ripening varieties; so if the rain holds off, we should still see significant export volumes - even if lower than our 2018 banner year."

She added there was "lots of frustration" in the industry, particularly among growers in the more southern areas. But northern growers with late varieties such as Sentennial and Staccato are optimistic, she said.

BC cherry exports to China and Japan

Cavers added that the British Columbia industry was worried about trade issues between Canada and China, particularly in light of recent product bans by the Asian country. 

"We hope that trade issues will not have an enormous impact, as cherries are a desired crop. The Chinese don't have a lot of alternative options if they want late-season high-quality cherries," she said.

Asked what the expectations were for the inaugural export season in Japan, she said:" I've spoken with all the people involved in Japan export, and the overwhelming response is that they just don't know.

"When asked to estimate export volumes, they can't even give me a ballpark number. We will see how the season plays out over the next few weeks."

 

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