Happy Halloween from Laird
Last week I mentioned some of the difficulties that tree fruit farmers encountered while operating in the Okanagan Valley. In going through the Orchard Run columns written by Wally Smith, I came across one that illustrates the plight of the tree fruit farmer.
This column was written on September 30, 1971 and entitled, Short On Cannery Fruit.
One of the weaknesses in our fruit growing industry is estimating the crops weeks before harvest time. This was painfully evident in the report Bill Dell gave at the annual meeting of the Oliver-Osoyoos Co-operative Growers last Thursday in Osoyoos.
According to Mr. Dell’s figures the deliveries of Red Haven and Vee peaches were quite close to estimates, but when it came to Elbertas the actual pick was three times the estimated figure. Missing the target by such a wide margin can put marketing plans far out of kilter. Canners and wholesalers must know weeks ahead of time what amount of fruit to expect from the Okanagan. If our crop forecast is short of normal and it appears we cannot supply our customers with sufficient fruit, they will look elsewhere to make up the shortage.
That’s what happened in our canning industry this year. Our estimate was for a small crop of Elbertas, so the canners signed up for what tonnage we had and went to the United States for the rest of their requirements. But when we got into the harvest of Elbertas we found that there were 300 percent more than estimated. The sales agency pressed the canners to take more of our Elbertas, but the canners had already ordered supplies from the United States and these orders could not be cancelled. That left us with hundreds more Elberta packs than we expected. Hopefully we will find a market for them, but there would be no problem if Elberta growers had made a reasonably close estimate of the crop on their trees.
We also got into difficulties with prunes. Canneries use a lot of prunes and the big co-op was given a quota to fill. Mr Dell reported that this year the house fell far short of filling the cannery quota because the growers did not leave enough on the trees for cannery maturity. The canners, as they did for Elberta peaches, went elsewhere for supplies they could not get from us. This sort of thing does nothing to enhance good relations between canners and our fruit growing industry.
End of Wally’s column.
I wonder if there is someone out there who would care to write about the current state of the co-operative packing houses and how they are doing? I would be interested in being informed and I’m sure there are many readers of this column who also would be interested in a report.