There were apple orchards from the US Border to Vernon. These orchards had only 40 trees per acre planted in perfectly straight rows 40 feet apart in every direction.
These apple trees were giants. They had to use 20 foot long orchard ladders to prune, thin and pick the apples from them.
What kind of apples grew on these trees? Winesap, Common Delicious, Newton. Now days you don’t even hear of these names, but then they produced millions of “ apple boxes “. They were picked in late September and October. The Oliver area was flooded with pickers, mainly from the Grand Forks area.
Like any fruit, apples start ripening, losing their crispness as soon as they are removed from the trees. These Winesaps, Newtons, Common Delicious held their good qualities for two or three months.
We had seven packing plants in the Oliver area. They were known by their names, Southern Co-op, Haynes, Mac & Fitz etc, only the Oliver Co-op Growers was known to everybody as “ the packing house”. Every grower had to belong to one of the packing plants.
The packing plants had cold storages, where the air temperature was kept around freezing point to slow down the ripening process of the apples. This helped somewhat, nevertheless, the apples had to be sold by the end of March.
B.C. Tree Fruits Ltd. was the sales agency. All the apples were sold by them, no apples were allowed out of the Okanagan in large quantities only through the sales agency.
We had railroad tracks between Penticton and Osoyoos. The train dropped off the requested number of cars every morning at every packing plant. These cars were cooled by ice, so they had to be loaded so the air could circulate between the rows.
At the Co-op 7-9 cars got loaded every day, each contained 840 packed boxes. At the end of the day the train collected the loaded cars and they were on their way to practically every part of the world.