(File photo)

(File photo)

It’s crunch time for Okanagan apple farmers

Bella Rosa Orchards’ apple season is at its peak

Apple season is back in the Okanagan, from Ambrosia to the McIntosh this year’s harvest is looking mighty a-peel-ing.

Local growers at family-run Bella Rosa Orchards in Kelowna are in crunch-time with the onset of fall.

While the most of the crops are heading to BC Tree Fruits for distribution, the apples are making their return to Bella Rosa’s fruit stands, as well as direct sellers including IGA and Peter’s Independent Grocer.

Owner Patti DiMaria said staying local is important to her and the Bella Rosa family.

“I get frustrated when I don’t see local produce at the stores. If we grow it here, we should sell it here,” said DiMaria.

“The people are very faithful to the Okanagan, and we get a lot of return customers supporting us locally.”

DiMaria said that they like to return the favour and keep a lot of their business local, shopping among the same community that comes to their orchard.

“We like to to pay it back,” she said.

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The apple season tends to start in August with Sunrise apples kicking the season off, then Gala and Ambrosias coming later.

DiMaria said it’s the height of the harvest season right now, describing her orchard as “working at 200 miles an hour.”

“It’s been a good season. We had a bit of a cold start but a good summer. It’s crunch time now throughout September and October to make sure we get our fruit off at the best time,” DiMaria said.

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People eat with their eyes, said DiMaria, and the combination of warm days and cool evenings in the Okanagan are perfect for the colouring of the apples.

DiMaria said the Gala apples are at prime picking because of their colour during the next few weeks, while Ambrosia apples need more time yet to reach peak colour.

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