BC's Agricultural Land Rush Bee Kind to Pollinators The Importance of Soil Health Canadian Winemaker Series: Gina Fernandes Harfman
Summer 2021 $6.95
Display Until July 15, 2021 Publication Mail Agreement No. 40838008 www.orchardandvine.net
Find out why agricultural land prices are sky high in the BC Interior.
6 Publisher's View – Lisa Olson 8 Calendar 9 News & Events Photo by www.dreamstime
22 Please Bee Kind with Chemicals
The importance of protecting pollinators from chemicals.
25 BC's Agricultural Land Rush 33 Know Thy Soil, Improve Thy Fruit 35 Mobile Juice Factory 38 Word on Wine – Carie Jones 39 Marketing Mix – Leeann Froese 41 Money Matters – AJ Gill
Photo by Mobile Juice Factory
43 Seeds of Growth – Glen Lucas
46 C anadian Winemaker Series Gina Fernandes Harfman Cover photo of Gina Fernandes Harfman of Nostalgia Wines Inc. on Black Sage Bench in Oliver, B.C. Photo by Nostalgia Wines Inc.
Photo by Gary Symons
Commercial Refrigeration Wineries, Breweries Fruit Processing & Storage Facilities Custom Climates Refrigeration Inc. is a full-service refrigeration company, specializing in commercial refrigeration, as well as all aspects of heating and air conditioning. From the chiller in your winery or brewery to blast coolers/freezers and controlled atmosphere applications, we thrive on any challenge and feel very confident that we will exceed your expectations.
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PUBLISHER’S VIEW | LISA OLSON
To Sell or Not to Sell Vol. 62, No 3 Summer 2021
Is it time to sell your property during this real estate boom?
Established in 1959
If you’re even thinking of buying or selling farm land, you’ll want to check out this month’s special feature, as our editor Gary Symons takes a deep and detailed dive into the red-hot market for orchard land in BC. Gary not only looks at the prices, but also at which regions are now seeing increased demand and prices.
Publisher Lisa Olson Editor Gary Symons Graphic Design Stephanie Symons
Prices for land are at an all-time high. Will they rise even higher? It’s kind of like the stock market; you really don’t know how high it will climb until it doesn’t increase anymore. And it’s difficult to predict until months later when we can look back on the historical data.
Writers Leeann Froese, AJ Gill, Carie Jones, Glen Lucas, Ronda Payne, Photo by Kimberly Brooke Photography
Gary Symons, Tom Walker
Have you given any thoughts of selling your agriculture property, winery, home or other property? Or did you sell lately? If you are thinking of retiring, is now the time for you? Where will you go and what will you do in this next phase of your life? Will you move into the nearest town, the city or buy a smaller piece of property to maintain your lifestyle of growing fresh food? Maybe you want to spend your winters someplace warm. Let me know, I’m curious. For those selling rental property in the city, it’s not the greatest outcome for younger renters who are displaced. I’ve seen a few posts online of people who can’t find a rental or there are so many names on the landlord’s list that it is impossible to get chosen. I heard of a young couple that has been looking every day
for months, and a mom with three children wondering where she will go and if she can afford the higher rent, and the most heart wrenching of all was of a single dad with a special needs child looking for anything in his budget, even a motor home so he doesn’t become homeless. For those selling it is like a windfall and for others it’ very sad and stressful. Best wishes for a good growing season and a successful tourist market! Enjoy the magazine!
Contact email@example.com Orchard & Vine Magazine Ltd. Mailing Address 22-2475 Dobbin Road Suite #578 West Kelowna, BC V4T 2E9 www.orchardandvine.net Phone: 778-754-7078 Fax: 1-866-433-3349 Orchard & Vine Magazine is published six times a year and distributed by addressed mail to growers, suppliers and wineries in the Okanagan, Kootenays, Fraser Valley, Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Washington State and across Canada. Orchard & Vine is also available online. Publications Mail Agreement No. 40838008 Undeliverable copies should be sent to: 22-2475 Dobbin Road Suite #578 West Kelowna, BC
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Visit a BC Farmers' Market this summer for fresh farm-to-table produce and wine.
Wine & Tai Chi Demonstrations • June 19, Ciao Bella Winery • July 14, Rollingdale Organic Winery • Aug. 29, Kalala Organic Estate Winery • Sept. 19, Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery http://winecountrytaichi.ca BC Enology & Viticulture Conference Dates to be announced www.bcwgc.org Canada’s Farm Show, Virtual June 15 - 17 www.canadasfarmshow.com
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Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference August 3-5 Eugene, Oregon ww.winemediaconference.org Wine Media Conference August 5-7 Eugene, Oregon ww.winemediaconference.org Canada’s Digital Farm Show September 14 - 16 www.outdoorfarmshow.com/
International Conferences on Wine Tourism September 23-24 https://waset.org Fortify Virtual Conference November 16 https://fortifyconference.ca/
SUMMER | NEWS & EVENTS
Two New Hires to Enhance the Epicurean Experience at Time Winery Penticton’s Time Winery has hired former Liquidity chef Matt Martin as its chef de cuisine, and Robbie Hundertmark as estate sommelier.
Photos by Chris Stenberg
Martin joins the team after working for a season at Liquidity Bistro, and previous experience working in Michelin-starred restaurants in Denmark and San Francisco. Martin will be tasked with helping develop the new seasonal menus at TIME under the guidance of chef AK Campbell. Hundertmark is also joining the team to enhance the winery’s epicurean experience as sommelier. He will be responsible for developing flights and pairing programs for TIME’s tasting experiences. Matt Martin. the new chef de cuisine, and Robbie Hundertmark, the estate sommelier.
Handlers Celebrates 30-Year Anniversary With Branding Update Regular customers will notice something different when they next visit a Handlers Equipment outlet, as the business is ‘freshening up’ its logo to celebrate the company’s 30th Anniversary. Founded in 1991, Handlers has been a leader in providing new and used agriculture and construction equipment to customers across the country for three decades.
Photo by Handlers Equipment
In the early years, the company’s focus was on used equipment and import tractors from Japan, but the company has always worked to be on the forefront of farming technology. Today, Handlers is a proud representative for eight brands, multiple lines of implements, and provides container loading and de-stuffing services to customers across the country. Handlers started selling Morooka, IHI and Canycon rubber track dumpers in 2001, became a dealer for Mahindra, the number one selling tractor in the world, in 2009, and in 2016 joined the Hyundai dealer network to meet demand for a broader range of large equipment with better support and service. Handlers also took on Avant compact multi-purpose loaders in 2017, and in 2020 added the line of Ferrari Tractors.
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SUMMER | NEWS & EVENTS
Oliver Twist Estate Winery is Now Nostalgia Wines Inc. Gina Fernandes Harfman is celebrating the 15th anniversary of her winery by rebranding the Oliver Twist Estate Winery under the new name Nostalgia Wines. When Harfman purchased Oliver Twist Estate Winery in 2012, she kept the name Oliver Twist, but created her own Nostalgia series to put her stamp on the business. With 2021 being the 15th anniversary of the winery, the time was right to finalize the change.
“Nostalgia Wines is more authentic and better connects to what we represent here,” Harfman says. With the name change also comes modernized packaging that better reflects the wine quality, displayed on Nostalgia Wines’ three wine tiers: Nostalgia, Pin-Up, and the Family Collection. Harfman is proud of her South Okanagan farming legacy, and the terroir of the region is in her blood: Harfman is the fourth generation from her paternal side, and the third generation from her maternal side, to sink their hands into South Okanagan soil. Photo by Nostalgia Wines Inc.
In Harfman’s woman-owned and managed winery, she carries on her predecessors’ vision and traditions. She has chosen the name Nostalgia because for her, wine is about creating memories and making connections. She hopes people will forge new memories as they experience her wines. “Nostalgia is something relatable to everyone,” she notes. “As everyone has memories.”
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SUMMER | NEWS & EVENTS
Quails Gate Welcomes New Lead Viticulturist Ed Tonner Quail’s Gate Estate Winery has appointed a new lead viticulturist to lead the company’s initiative to provide the best possible wine grapes in a sustainable manner.
Photo by Quail's Gate Winery
Ed Tonner has arrived at Quail’s Gate after a stellar international career, including more than 15 years working in the Canadian winemaking regions of Niagara and the Okanagan Valley. He is also a viticulture instructor with the Viticulture and Wine Studies program at Okanagan College. New lead viticulturist Ed Tonner.
“Ed brings practical, agricultural experience of
over fifteen years from the Canadian regions of Niagara and the Okanagan Valley,” the company said in a statement. “Since graduating from the Winery and Viticulture program at Niagara College, Ed’s passion for wine has led him around the globe, but he has found his niche back in Canada as a homegrown viticulturist.” Quails’ Gate has been a proud member of Sustainable Winegrowing BC’s pilot program and says Tonner will be furthering its efforts on SWBC’s committee to help wineries and growers achieve official certification in 2021.
YOUR FARM/ORCHARD LISTING We have sold almost all of our farm listings! Inventory is low and demand is high. Farms throughout the Okanagan Valley have climbed to record high prices. If you’re considering selling there has never been a better time!
Call or text 250.878.6545 to get started.
NEW FARM LISTINGS OYAMA 3.82 acres in the ALR with a large home, shop and two small farm help cottages. This property is located in one of the Okanagan’s premier neighbourhoods and offers fabulous views of Wood and Kalamalka Lakes. Currently planted in apple varieties from the 1970s, this property would be suitable for a vineyard or modern fruit tree varieties, and offers many different lifestyle options. You could choose to undertake substantial renovations to the main home, or consider a complete replacement with a new estate home. Only minutes away from the beaches of Wood and Kalamalka Lakes. Close to the rail trail as well. Fantastic opportunity for the right buyer who’s looking for a long term upside to their investment. MLS® $1,200,000
ARMSTRONG Beautiful 23.5 acre farm property with large attractive 5 bedroom updated home and a 1620 sq ft 4 bed manufactured home. 110 x 34 foot hay shed, 40 x 82 equipment shed with laundry & staff quarters, and 5 large barns suitable for a variety of agricultural purposes. Zoned A2 ALR. Gentle east facing slope. MLS® $2,700,000
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Get growing with a TELUS Agriculture Weather Station sponsored content Weather is one of your biggest and unpredictable risk factors. Having accurate, local weather information can help provide vital data for making irrigation decisions, managing vine growth, integrating pest management plans and, ultimately, improving the quality of the fruit. Information such as leaf wetness, relative humidity, soil moisture and wetting depth can help predict diseases, future fertilizer and irrigation applications as well as general vineyard activity that involves tractor work. When you’re more informed about the weather forecast in your area, you can make more accurate and timely decisions about your vineyard.
Optimize spraying vineyards with a weather station Prior to any application, climate conditions should be checked so pesticide applications are optimized. As part of an integrated pest management strategy, investing in a weather station for your vineyard is key when tracking weather for your own microclimate. Here’s how a weather station solution can help you make more informed, weather-related decisions when it comes to spraying applications:
Proactive approach Lack of awareness about winds, temperature and precipitation can turn a day of spraying into a time-consuming ordeal if chemicals drift to an undesirable target. Help manage safe applications and make more informed decisions ahead of time.
More accurate monitoring Without accurately knowing chill hour accumulation, both the uncertainty of bud break and yield potential could increase costs significantly. Better knowledge of chill hour requirements specific to your vineyard can help you more strategically decide application timing.
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Optimize equipment Knowing the precise real-time conditions 12 Summer 2021
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SUMMER | NEWS & EVENTS
April Cold Snap Devastates Vineyards Across France French Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced a massive bailout package, as grape growers in several regions lost between 30 to 50 per cent of their crops. Castex says the government will step in with close to 1 billion euros in aid, equivalent to almost $1.5 billion in Canadian currency. Photo courtesy of @EmmanuelMacron on twitter
The massive aid package was announced as the country suffers the fallout from a catastrophic frost event in Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhone Valley, the Loire and Languedoc. While these regions may lose up to half their grapes this year, agrologists say some sub-appelations may be even harder hit, such as the Herault region of Languedoc. At a minimum, experts say a third of French wine production will be lost this year, worth roughly $3 billion Cdn., and raising more concerns over extreme weather events caused by global warming. “This is probably the greatest agricultural catastrophe of the beginning of the 21st
century,” said French agriculture minister Julien Denormandie. The unseasonal wave of bitter frost and ice hit suddenly after a bout of warm weather, which worsened the damage. The warmth had encouraged vines and fruit trees to develop earlier than usual, only to be withered by the sudden cold.
Wine-makers had battled over several nights to try to save vineyards, attempting to heat up fields by lighting thousands of small fires and candles near vines and trees. This created the extraordinary spectacle of the night sky lit by rows of flames between the vines.
Organic Conversion Support Program Funding Available The Canada Organic Trade Association is urging growers to apply now for its Organic Conversion Fund, as there is still funding available with the deadline looming on June 30. The program is open to all producers (plant based and livestock) who sought organic certification in 2020. It can reimburse up to $1,000 of certification costs, and can cover a portion of consulting costs if applicable. In 2019, The Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA) announced the launch of its new Organic Conversion Support Program to assist organic producers for added costs while transitioning to organic farming. This program reimburses producers for their paid certification costs up to a maximum of $1000. 14 Summer 2021
Seeds of Change is returning as a primary sponsor of the program and COTA says its financial help has been critical in providing incubator funding for the 2020 program. Without Seeds of Change, COTA says, “We never would have been able to fund 41 farmers and convert 6,167 acres to organic nationwide!” COTA also said it is thrilled to announce that Mill Street Brewery has joined the initiative to fund 20 farmers in 2021, in recognition of their 20th Anniversary, as a way to give back to the organic community. The Organic Conversion Support Program is for farmers in their first, second or third year of pre-certification or for farmers already certified organic and who are increasing their organic acreage. “We have nearly doubled the amount of
funding over last year and we are pleased to provide this level of assistance to farmers in need during the pandemic,” COTA said in a statement. The association is urging farmers to apply as soon as possible, as all funds could be allocated before the June 30 deadline. To apply online, go to https://www.canada-organic.ca/en/whatwe-do/market-access/organic-conversionsupport-program
SUMMER | NEWS & EVENTS
Quail's Gate Earth Day Donation
While Earth Day is a time to reflect on the bountiful gifts nature provides, it is more than just a day to Quails' Gate. This April the winery celebrates sustainability by entering its third year of partnership with the Nature Conservancy of Canada through a $25,000 donation to support the preservation of conservation areas within the Okanagan Valley. Over the last couple of years, support from Quails’ Gate has added grasslands and moisture to wetlands that protect atrisk species as well as maintained upland forests of old growth cedar and hemlock trees that provide essential habitat for deer, bears, beavers and migratory birds. Quails’ Gate Winery has made a threeyear commitment to support the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) as part of their long-term strategy to incorporate sustainable practices across the company. This initiative supports NCC’s ongoing conservation work throughout the Okanagan Eco-region in British Columbia. “Our company and our family are proud to support [the Nature Conservancy of Canada] in their ongoing conservation and stewardship work,” says Tony Stewart, CEO and proprietor of Quails’ Gate. “Through this partnership, we hope to raise awareness of sustainable practices in the wine industry.” Other wineries or farms interested in partnering with NCC, can contact the organization at: firstname.lastname@example.org 1-800-465-0029
When one cold night can ruin an entire year’s hard work... It’s best to play it safe. Since 1967, we have hand-crafted our wind machines with precision technology. Growers from around the world trust Orchard-Rite® wind machines to protect their orchards from the dangers of frost. We are dedicated to serving you by providing the tools and service to stave off those frosty nights, protecting your harvest and your future. Find us at orchard-rite.com.
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It’s Time For A Change With 2B FermControl, less is more
B FermControl (2B) in Breisach am Rhein (Germany) is a globally recognized specialist in the development and production of active yeasts, bacteria and other solutions in pure, natural quality for the production of premium wines. Since 2003, 2B has dedicated itself to the principle of minimal intervention wine production – as much as needed, as little as possible. The company's portfolio is concentrated on EC organic certified vinicultural products, entirely free of petrochemical elements or preservatives. Its catalog includes 100 % organic, environmentally friendly alternatives to PVPP/microplastics. The company also promotes active avoidance of metabolic engineering and hybridization techniques. 2B's mission is to help wine producers preserve and emphasize the intrinsic sensory properties of their grape varieties and the specific characteristics of their terroir. It achieves this through reduced use of natural additives and targeted harnessing of nature's own tools. At the same time, conventional additives are reduced or eliminated. As befits the company motto at 2B: “LESS IS MORE”. This “minimal intervention” approach has gained broad acceptance by well-known
international wine estates, that are following the principles of biological vinification, both for ethical and quality reasons. These winemakers rely on the effectiveness of additive-free products from 2B. Fermentation solutions for sustainable winemaking The VitiFermTM BIO active dry yeasts product line includes the perfect yeast solution for every grape variety. Each yeast strain has been carefully selected from a bio-dynamic habitat and being produced certified organic, totally pure and free of any known allergens or chemicals. All strains have been selected due to their special physiological abilities to enhance the varietal and terroir specific characteristics of the grape varieties, and offer a unique combination of high fermentation security and natural flavour diversity. ClearUp BIO is a highly purified yeast cell wall solution. The broad application range includes the replacement of microplastics such as PVPP or other animal- or silicabased fining products. It also includes the specific fining for the selective removal of undesired substances that have been very difficult to remove from juice or wine. ClearUp BIO binds a number of pesticides residues and mycotoxins, which all have
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yeast inhibitory effects. It can reduce the content of volatile phenols (e.g. by Brettanomyces) notably. RePrise™ BIO is a new inactive yeast, specifically designed for wine maturation after alcoholic fermentation and for the treatment of aged wines. It offers additional functions and is permitted as treatment agent for wine and all other wine categories. In Canada, RePrise™ BIO and all other EC organic certified 2B products can be used by winemakers for the organic certified wine production due to the USDA and COR standards. ViniComplex™ XS is a highly purified polysaccharide preparation derived from premium pure yeast cells. Special extraction and purification procedures ensure the purity of these natural polysaccharides, which allow a number of applications in winemaking. ViniComplex™ XS enhances texture and mouthfeel in wines in a natural way. Additionally it helps to stabilize colour pigments (Anthocyanin) in wine thereby leading to better colourstability of the product. www.2BFermControl.com
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SUMMER | NEWS & EVENTS
New Oliver Irrigation System to Flow for Orchards, Wineries, Farms Photo by www.dreamstime.com Nalidsa Sukprasert | Dreamstime.com
Work is underway this year to ensure Oliver-area orchards, wineries and farms have access to a stable irrigation system. A $5 million contribution from the BC government will help reroute the town’s agricultural irrigation system around Gallagher Lake to serve as a dependable source of year-round irrigation water for growers in years to come. “The new pipes will deliver more than water to the farms, orchards and vineyards in the area,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. “They will also bring the peace of mind a reliable irrigation system provides growers and their families.” The new system, expected to be complete in April 2022, will replace temporary piping that was established following a rockslide in 2016. The slide damaged
infrastructure that carried irrigation water to the Town of Oliver, the Osoyoos Indian Band and farms, and wineries and orchards in the Regional District of the Okanagan Similkameen (RDOS). The
Obituary BOULT, John Walter (Jack) 1937 – 2021 It is with great sadness that the family of Jack Boult of Cawston, BC announce his passing on March 24, 2021. Jack is survived by his loving wife, Bea; children, Doug (Roberta), Sandy (John) Sladen; grandchildren, Ryan, Brandy (Gary), Travys (Courtney), Chelsea, Tyrell (Marja); great-grandchildren, Kenzie, Zachary, Baker and newly arrived, Cru; sisters, Patricia Gallant and Beverly (Scotty) Matheson; niece, Denise Gallant (Ryan); nephews, John and Cam Matheson and their families; sister-in-law, Shirley (Fred) Harrington; nieces, Dawn and Tanya (Art); nephew, Rick (Tara) and their families. He is sadly predeceased by his brother-in-law, Richard Gallant and nephew, Allen Gallant. Jack, a well-known member of the Cawston area, was known for his love of farming – both of fruit and cattle, his love of fishing, hunting and the outdoors. He was a life member of the Keremeos-Cawston Sportsmen Association. He spent time on the Board of Directors for the Keremeos Packing House. He also coached Little League Baseball teams of Kohler Farms. He will be sadly missed by all who knew and loved him. Keep on fishing, Grandpa. There will be no services at this time. To send condolences please visit www.hansonsfuneral.ca
18 Summer 2021
temporary piping has delivered irrigation water since the slide, but at reduced capacity, and with vulnerabilities during hotter years with lower precipitation. “In Oliver, we’re farming in a desert climate," said Michael Bartier, winemaker/ owner at Bartier Family Vineyards. “The importance of our irrigation water supply cannot be overstated With this project, I know there’ll be much relief to local anxieties on this water supply, our livelihoods, and the province’s food security.” The provincial contribution completes the funding for the $11 million partnership with the Town of Oliver and was contingent on the town raising the remaining project funds, consulting with stakeholders and completing an environmental impact assessment and archeological review. The new irrigation system brings stability to crop production in the area and reduces the risk of crop and financial uncertainty for growers, their employees and the larger community. “The solid irrigation ditch goes through the north end of the Osoyoos Indian Reserve and is a very important source of water to Nk’Mip (Inkameep) vineyards,” said Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band. “I want to thank the Province of BC for funding a portion of the much-needed new irrigation pipeline upgrades, which will secure a safe source of water for hundreds of agricultural properties in our region.”
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SUMMER | NEWS & EVENTS
Winecrush Receives Federal Support for Winery Clean Tech
Photo by www.dreamstime.com Andrew Zimmer
Okanagan-based Winecrush has received research and development support from Agriculture and Agri Food Canada for its innovative “Marlee” Project, a new bio-mechanical process to transform the food grade wine derivatives - typically discarded after harvest and crush - into a high-performance flavour enhancement ingredient. Winecrush has developed a new, patentpending bio-mechanical process to cost effectively upcycle wine-making derivatives into high-performance food ingredients. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has awarded funding to Winecrush through its Agricultural Clean Technology (ACT) program, which invests in the research, development, and adoption of clean technologies leading to the promotion of agri-based bioproducts. “We are honoured to receive support from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Their ACT program was a perfect fit for our stage of development,” says Bill Broddy, co-founder and President of Winecrush. “The Marlee Project is designed to give wineries an effective alternative for the derivatives from the winemaking process, rather than let these food grade materials go to waste.” Sending these materials to the landfill or leaving it on winery property leads to methane emissions and soil contamination. This new process developed by Winecrush is designed to cost effectively convert these materials into natural food
Pressed grape pomace, seeds and skins can be turned into flavour enhancement ingredients.
additives suitable for a variety of health and food products, with both high nutritional and monetary value.
in line with what we are trying to achieve here at Stag’s Hollow Winery,” says winemaker Kiera LeFranc.
As part of its pilot program, Winecrush worked with 10 Okanagan-based wineries to collect their pomace (also known as marc, the grape skins and seeds left after grapes are pressed), and lees (the sediment left behind). A total of 150 tonnes of wine derivative was saved from landfills, avoiding the release of a total of 6,500 kilograms of methane, the equivalent of 175 carbon credits.
“The team at Winecrush was extremely responsive in addressing any questions and concerns we brought forth, and they were diligent in ensuring the entire process was as non-disruptive, easy, and streamlined as possible,” LeFranc added. “We are very excited to partner with them again for the upcoming 2021 harvest season, and we appreciate the focus on environmental sustainability that their initiative is bringing to the wine industry.”
“We weren’t sure what to expect when we signed up to partner with Winecrush, but their vision for sustainability and environmental preservation seemed to be
Based on the success of the program so far, Winecrush is already putting plans in place for the 2021 harvest.
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SUMMER | NEWS & EVENTS YOUR LOCAL EXPERTS IN VINEYARD, ORCHARD AND AGRICULTURAL REAL ESTATE VALUATIONS
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From our central Kelowna office, NCA Commercial Inc. is best placed to offer experienced, reliable and professional valuation and consulting services to those owning and operating agricultural land and businesses in BC’s interior. Our team of accredited commercial real estate appraisers specializes in a variety of services including: • market valuations for financing • property settlement & estate planning • site selection & pre-acquisition negotiation • insurance replacement cost & risk management • compensation in expropriation & partial takings • subdivision & ALR applications • arbitration & expert witness Photo contributed
Brian Pauluzzi, B.Com., RI, AACI, MRICS Owner/Commercial Appraiser
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Dr. Kamlesh Patel of AgriForest Biotechnologies Ltd. in the lab.
Agriforest BioTechnologies has received a $150,000 research grant from BC’s Agritech Grant Program to improve vertical growing systems for fruit and berry production. The grant will specifically support the company’s work in integrating tissue culture technologies with environmentally controlled vertical growing systems. The company says the funding will focus particularly on improving the qualities of planting stock and decreasing the cost of production for new varieties of berry and tree fruit crops to meet the growing demand for superior planting materials by the growers of BC and Canada.
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The project will be carried out under the direction of Dr. Kamlesh Patel of AgriForest Biotechnologies Ltd. AgriForest has grown as the leading supplier of high-quality planting materials derived through tissue culture cloning of elite species of fruit trees, berry crops and high value landscaping plants in Canada. Over the last 25 years AgriForest has developed proprietary plant tissue culture technologies which have helped commercialize new plant varieties of tree fruits and berry crops released by Agriculture Canada, University Agricultural Departments as well as private breeders.
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Patel says AgriForest scientists Dr. Faiq Khan and Dr. Mahesh Pudasaini will be working with a group of researchers from UBC Okanagan, in an attempt to develop more energy efficient and cost effective greenhouse technologies. “The development of this innovative technology is expected to result in up to 40 per cent savings in labor and energy costs, leading to production of superior quality planting stocks at a reduced cost, to meet the growing demand by the growers of BC and Canada."
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Patel carried out his initial research at Yale University and later at the University of Calgary.
Please Bee Kind with Chemicals Mighty But Fragile, Bees Need Grower Care to By Ronda Payne There isn’t a harder working insect with a symbiotic relationship to humans than a bee. Yet, despite the endless work of these creatures and their role in the human food supply, they face serious challenges to their survival. Some threats include the unintentional consequences of chemical sprays by the very people who rely on the bees for their livelihoods; the fruit growers. Andony Melathopoulos, assistant professor of Pollinator Health Extension with the Agricultural and Life Sciences department at Oregon State University, is on a mission to help pollinators, and even hosts his own OSU podcast called PolliNation. His work includes helping growers better balance bee health with the need to apply products that ensure better crop health, yields and vigour. Like all balancing acts, it’s no minor task. All pollinators can be at risk from chemical applications, primarily pesticides, but an increasing number of studies point to fungicides as well. However, it’s generally the diligent honey bee that faces the greatest adversity. The honey bees seen in colonies now, both wild and managed, are descendants of those originally imported from Europe in the 1600s. They’ve been part of food cultivation for a long time, but since the 1980s, concerns about their decline have grown. “It doesn’t take much to kill the bees,” Melathopoulos says. Undetermined colony collapse disorders, varroa mite-caused diseases, European foulbrood disease, Asian Giant Hornets and more have plagued the small fuzzy pollinators. The last thing they need is another challenge, but certain fruitgrowing practices have unwittingly exposed them to just that. Part of the problem stems from language used on labels. Understanding what labels mean when it comes to bees Any chemical label that says “highly toxic” or “toxic” to bees is obviously poisonous to them, but these types of descrip22 Summer 2021
tors mean it’s a single exposure that can cause deadly outcomes. “It’s often a lethal effect,” Melathopoulos explains. “It often looks like piles of dead bees in front of the colony. It has this characteristic bee kill look.” This type of labelling language is simple enough, but this is where the black and white turns to shades of grey for growers. Bee toxicity information is generally included in environmental hazards or environmental cautions sections, but many older labels haven’t been updated. For newer labels, if there are no cautions, Melathopoulos says this means the registrant has done tests and it appears to not be toxic to bees. Sometimes the statement “chronic toxicity” is used on older labels, though it’s not common. “That toxicity can have lingering effects,” he says. “The bees may have a harder time foraging.” These chemicals may lead to their death, though not in as dramatic a fashion as a highly toxic product. But what about products that don’t use the word toxic? Might there still be harm to bees when they’ve been sprayed on the plants, and are their lingering effects? “You’re going to see some mention of this on the label. It’s not as clear and not as direct,” Melathopoulos says. “When you look at the label, you’re going to look for language of whether the product remains toxic if [the bees are] actively visiting or visiting.” Some labels specify that harmful elements break down after a certain number of hours, which indicates the need to spray at night so bees aren’t active until the chemical is perceived to be harmless. If there is no time range for the breakdown of the product, it can be assumed that it takes longer than eight hours and shouldn’t be applied when bees are visiting or foraging. “The word ‘visiting’ can often be inter-
Andony Melathopoulos, of the Agricultural and Life Sciences
Photo by Andony Melathopoulos
Live, Thrive and Continue Food Production.
department of Oregon State University, is on a mission to help pollinators.
Photo by Ronda Payne
Beehives located among sweet cherries in a Fraser Valley orchard.
If the product says “visiting” or “foraging” without the word “actively,”, sprays need to wait until after petal drop. Any time there are flowers, growers need to be very cautious as he says there is a lot of uncertainty about sprays any time plants are in full bloom. He adds that no matter what the product might say, avoid spraying during the day during the full bloom period. Before spraying at night during full bloom, he advises growers to talk to the registrant to ensure residual toxins break down within eight hours. “Hammer the plants hard before they come into bloom,” he advises. “Try to do your insect pest control while the risk is relatively low.” If there are flowering weeds in the hedgerow, don’t spray them and be careful of accidental overspray. Save these plants for bees to forage on. Additionally, don’t put colonies at row ends, keep them at a good distance from plants. “Putting a pallet of bees right up against 24 Summer 2021
Photo by Andony Melathopoulos
changed with ‘foraging’,” Melathopoulos says. “Don’t apply when bees are actively visiting the treatment area. The word actively suggests that you can… apply it in the evening.”
the crop every 20 meters or 30 meters isn’t going to increase pollination and there’s no way you’re going to be able to protect those last plants without dousing that colony,” Melathopoulos says. Another concern is that the term ‘residual’ doesn’t cover whether the toxins in the product are systemically residual. This means that bees may not be harmed from a previous application, but the product may be found in the pollen or the nectar. This is not covered on product labels and has a place in the “risk cup”
studies Melathopoulos is working on. The theory is that bees suffer a cumulative effect from all of the chemicals they come into contact with. However, present-day labelling focuses on a chemicalby-chemical basis and not a cumulative one. Knowing all the answers to keep bees healthy is a long way off, but understanding product application better is a great start to creating more balance and better pollinator health. ■
Photo by www.dreamstime.com Leo Bruce Hempell
BC'S AGRICULTURAL LAND RUSH What's Behind the Blazing Hot Market by Gary Symons In recent months the news has been full of stories about Canada’s red hot housing market, as homes across the country sell for amounts well over the asking price, but there's been relatively little coverage of the blazing hot market for agricultural land in British Columbia. Like housing, farm land is on a recordbusting run in BC, particularly in places like the Okanagan Valley and the Creston Valley in the Kootenays, but few people outside those local farming regions have noticed the trend. Part of the reason for that is the Farm Credit Canada annual report on farm land prices does not include lands used
for fruit orchards or wine grapes, and so the report concluded land prices in the Okanagan had remained flat year over year, at 0.0 per cent. But when you factor in the lands used for orchards and vineyards, the increases are among the highest ever seen, and have resulted in the most expensive acreages in Canada at up to an astounding $300,000 per acre. “Prices were rising here in the Okanagan before the pandemic hit,” says agricultural realtor Jerry Geen. “We really noticed in 2019 the prices were pushing much higher. That trend started in 2016, and it has ramped up to record high levels right now.”
And it’s not just the Okanagan. The price increases were noted by the FCC for the Kootenays and the Thompson-Nicola regions, and according to the FCC report the Kootenays saw a 28.1 per cent increase in value from 2019 to 2020, while the Thompson region experienced an increase of 16.7 per cent for irrigated lands. These changes come at a time of moderate increases for the Canadian farm land market as a whole, which rose by just 5.4 per cent in 2020, down from the 22.1 per cent the market experienced nationally in 2013. In fact, annual increases in Canadian farm land prices have generally been in decline in recent years. Since that high in 2013, land prices inSummer 2021
creased by 14.3 per cent in 2014, by 10 per cent in 2015, and since then have hovered between five and eight per cent. BC, however, has been an outlier in the market. The province showed the highest overall increase in prices nationally this year, at 8.2 per cent, but that increase does not include what happened in the Okanagan Valley, due to the FCC not tracking the sales of orchard lands. Instead, we went to the realtors and the appraisers who deal with the market every day, and found a very different story.
Photo by www.dreamstime.com Paulacobleigh
To put it simply, certain parcels of farm land in the Okanagan, the Kootenays and the Thompson-Nicola regions are seeing explosive growth, and the trends are critically important for farmers to understand. So, what’s happening, and why? Most of the story has to do with the extraordinary demand for high quality grapes and cherries; two crops that can only grow in a very limited number of parcels in certain parts of British Columbia. With farmers earning record high prices from cherry buyers in China, and wineries racking up impressive profits, growers have realized there’s a race on to acquire the best lands for these crops. “The market is extremely active, and as far as price increases, it’s hard to keep up,” says appraiser Brian Pauluzzi, owner of NCA Commercial. “To appraise in this market is difficult because every new deal is kind of a new limit. The changes
The demand for high-quality grapes and cherries is driving the market.
The market is extremely active, and as far as price increases, it's hard to keep up … to appraise in this market is difficult because every new deal is kind of a new limit. Brian Pauluzzi in market conditions have been so swift, and you don’t typically find that in agricultural land. On the residential side you get massive fluctuations, but the Ag sector typically has not been as volatile as what you’re seeing today.” In this month’s Orchard & Vine, we’re taking a deep dive in this Special Feature on the BC Land Rush, identifying the five primary reasons these local markets have exploded while other regions remain relatively flat.
Photo by www.dreamstime.com
Part One: Fruit Prices “From a sheer business point of view, all the money in the market right now is in cherries and grapes,” says Jerry Geen, a veteran realtor who grew up in an Okanagan farm family, and founder of the Geen + Byrne Real Estate Team with 26 Summer 2021
Photo by Gary Symons
New cherry trees planted in the East Kelowna area of the Central Okanagan Valley in British Columbia are a sign of the changing times for farmers.
RE/MAX Kelowna. “Those are the two areas where the most revenue per acre are seen.” For example, Geen has friends who gross $20,000 to $30,000 per acre for table grapes, and the revenue for wine grapes can be significantly higher, as are prices for cherries, where some top farmers have clocked in with revenues up to $60,000 per acre. For that reason, Geen says the market is seeing unprecedented values for suitable land. “Any of the premium sites that are suitable for orchard right now, if they’re unplanted or planted with old varieties that need to be removed, from Coldstream to the border, 100K to 120K is your start point per acre, and some people paying values above 200K per acre for cherry orchards. "We have also seen a few anomaly sales where high-profile winery operators are paying upwards of 250 thousand to 350 thousand for mature vineyards.” Realtor Scott Marshall of RE/MAX Kelowna, a fifth-generation Okanagan resident from a long-time farming family, says he recently brokered a deal for roughly 10 acres of land that sold for $3.2 million.
“There is definitely a large increase in prices for any land that is viable for cherries or vineyards,” Marshall said. “We’ve lost a significant amount of our apple stock over the last year, because it is not making enough revenue in comparison to cherries. You can drive around and literally see people ripping out their apples so they can plant cherries.” That demand for cherries came from the initiative taken by the Canadian and BC governments to sign a deal with China, establishing clear rules and procedures for cherry exports. Since then, demand for BC’s high-quality cherries has exploded, and with them, the prices for orchard land as well. Pauluzzi says the same applies to vineyards, particularly because grape growers and cherry orchardists are often competing for the same land. “I think with the prices of wine, the prices of grapes, this is a long-term trend rather than a price bubble,” Pauluzzi said. “Several years ago when prices of grapes fell you saw some of the bigger players selling off their land holdings or divesting their grape contracts, so even in the last decade it’s a complete 180. Now I know they’re kicking themselves and they’re
looking for land anywhere, even as far north as Oyama.” Part Two: Cornering the Market According to Wine Growers BC, there are now 185 licensed wineries in the Okanagan Valley, and 8,830 acres planted with wine grapes. For many years, according to appraiser Brian Pauluzzi, the market for vineyards was driven by new players entering the market, and typically they would buy smaller parcels of 10 to 20 acres. This number is no accident. Under BC law, one can only open an estate winery if the winery has 10 or more acres of vineyard. As a result, new wine companies would often buy a small parcel in order to establish the winery, and then buy grapes from established growers. But while demand may once have been driven by new winemakers looking for smaller parcels, that has now changed due to the success of the region’s wineries and grape growers. “Wineries in the Okanagan and Similkameen have done very well, and over the years you’ve started to see market consolidation,” Pauluzzi says. “Larger companies are buying successful wineries, but they’re also expanding their production, Summer 2021
and that requires larger parcels of land. “The issue is, large acreages in the Okanagan are almost impossible to find, and now you have the big players in the market - the Arterras, Peller, the Mission Hill group, Sandhill and so on - who are going after those bigger properties. They are consolidating the market where they can, and all they want are those bigger parcels, because they need those economies of scale to make their model work.” Realtor Scott Marshall agrees, pointing to recent transactions of between $250,000 and $350,000 per acre. “There’s an influx of buyers from the Osoyoos area coming into the Central Okanagan right now,” Marshall says. “They are cashing out of their orchards and vineyards down there at obscene prices. I mean, some of them are getting $350K an acre down there, and if you look at what they can get here (the Central Okanagan), all of a sudden that $250K an acre is relatively affordable.” Geen says he’s seeing those same high prices for land suitable for cherries, wine grapes and table grapes, linked directly to high fruit prices. “A lot of it is simply supply and demand,” Geen says. “There are a lot of larger scale vineyards, cherry orchardists and winery operators who are trying to get bigger, and it’s a simple fact that there’s only so much land suitable for cherry orchards and vineyards in the Valley. “If you have a lot of small parcels, you don’t achieve that economy of scale, so we are now seeing the bigger operators looking for the larger parcels of land, where they can be more efficient and drive down the cost of grape production.” And in a country where the amount of suitable land is severely limited, that can be a concern for all winery and orchard operators. “There’s only so much land, and they’re not making any more of it,” Geen pointed out. “What is there, maybe 20,000 acres of land in the Okanagan that’s ideal for grapes? Once that’s gone, it is gone, and so the supply and demand question is very, very real.” All of that said, no one really knows how high prices have risen for orchard land in the Okanagan, as the FCC typically tracks land used for hay and field crops, but did 28 Summer 2021
There are new cherry orchards being planted all over the region as cherries replace apples, hay and field crops.
There's only so much land, and they're not making any more of it… Once that's gone, it is gone, and so the supply and demand question is very, very real. Jerry Geen not track sales of fruit orchards or vineyards.
equally good, and among the best in the world.
“I couldn’t say exactly what the increase has been,” admits Marshall. “But I am comfortable saying prices have risen by about 15 to 20 per cent for that type of agricultural land.”
When cherry prices soared after the Canada-China trade deal, land in the Creston Valley suddenly became immensely profitable, and profitability has bred high demand. The FCC report for 2020 says prices for farm land rose a shocking 28.1 per cent in a single year, but real estate experts say the vast majority of that is related to cherry orchards.
Part Three: The China Effect Hits The Kootenays The Okanagan Valley is Canada’s best known growing region for cherries, but it’s not the only one. In fact, experts say cherries grown in the Creston Valley, a micro-climate in the Kootenays, are
“It’s all Creston,” says Pauluzzi. “The prices they paid even three years ago, compared to now, it’s almost doubled. We
have the best cherries in the world, and the cherry orchards in Creston are huge now. The distributors there say they get some of the highest prices for cherries in the world, for some of the best product in the world, and that’s why (buyers) are paying six bucks a pound.” Geen says he’s hearing the same thing from cherry growers in Creston and the Okanagan alike. “One of the factors driving (land) prices is that some of the larger, better growers are making record revenues, up to $30,000 to $60,000 an acre,” Geen said. “Sure, it may seem crazy to pay 200 grand an acre, but it makes sense if you can make that kind of money.” Marshall adds that farmers are naturally entrepreneurial, and make hard business calculations based on business risk, cost of production, and price per kilogram. The math, he says, is pushing farmers to invest in the Creston Valley, Kootenays, and further north into Kamloops, Pritchard and Ashcroft. “You can get some pretty good-sized land parcels up there, with proper air and water drainage, so I’m not surprised people are willing to take a shot,” he said. “Compared to here, where 30 acres of high producing cherries could be priced at $5 million or so, then you look at what $5 million can do in these other regions, then it comes down to a risk calculation of how likely it is that you’ll get a catastrophic frost event. For the same price as 30 acres in the Okanagan you could have hundreds of acres fully planted out and ready to go.” Part Four: Fruit Production Expands Into New Areas All three of the experts we spoke to agreed that increasing land and fruit prices, combined with the impact of climate change and hardier varieties, are changing the geography of fruit production in the BC Interior, which is spreading outward from the Okanagan and Creston Valleys.
Photos by Gary Symons
“We are seeing levels now that you would normally not even think of in the past when it comes to price per acre,” said Pauluzzi. “What we’re also seeing is more marginal lands, lands that you would previously not see as appropriate for a vineyard, being sold for vineyard. “In Osoyoos along the highway 97 corridor the flat lands that used to be cattle
Buyers priced out of the market in the Central and South Okanagan (seen here) are moving north to find more affordable land.
and field crops, land that is low and subject to frost, we’re now seeing that being planted. We’re also seeing that in Kelowna with cherries, flat land around the airport that never had an orchard on it. "Basically hay lands, flat as a pancake and therefore susceptible to frost, and now there’s hundreds of acres planted in cherries, so it’s really quite something to watch.” Geen says his family is a good example of that. His brother, David Geen, President of the Coral Beach cherry business, is one of Canada’s largest cherry farmers, and in recent years he has undertaken a massive expansion in more northerly areas. In a previous interview with Orchard & Vine, David Geen said farmers are growing their business by planting hardier fruits developed at the Summerland Research Station, and thus harvesting their cherries when the rest of the market is out of fruit. “Things have changed a lot since my great grandfather began fruit farming at Carr’s Landing/Lake Country in 1903,” he said. “For one, the center of gravity has moved north.” No one planted cherries in Lake Country back in the day, says Geen, let alone in Vernon. Yet today, Coral Beach only 30 Summer 2021
I'm seeing a general shift further north in an attempt to find lower land prices … it comes down to whether someone is willing to take on the perceived risk of planting further north. Scott Marshall farms from Kelowna north and in 2018 the company broke ground on a new orchard site at Pritchard, 40 kilometres east of Kamloops along the South Thompson River. When the Pritchard property is in production by 2023, that will increase Coral Beach Farms total cherry plantings to 1080 acres, with the most northerly site in North America. The resurgence of the BC cherry industry stems from new varieties, starting with the Lapin, that was hardier and less prone to cracking. First planted by pioneering farmer Hugh Dendy, these new varieties have allowed growers to plant further north and higher up. They also did something even more important. The new ‘Northern’ varieties are harvested later in the year, after fruit from competing producers in the US are long gone. As a result, those cherries are the last quality fruit left on the market,
and are snapped up at high prices by Chinese buyers. As a result, Marshall says farmers are looking for land in what were once very remote areas, allowing them to get into the market at lower cost. “I’m seeing a general shift further north in an attempt to find lower land prices,” Marshall said. “Looking into the Kootenays, looking at Kamloops, Pritchard and Ashcroft areas, if you can get land up there for 5,000 an acre and water right out of the Thomson River, there’s some really interesting opportunities. You can get cheap land and accessible water, so then it comes down to whether someone is willing to take on the perceived risk of planting further north, and the logistics of the operation.” On that note, both Marshall and Geen say climate change is playing a role, reducing the risk of devastating frost damage.
Photo by www.dreamstime.com Matthew Roberge
“I would say they are being successful because we haven’t had that catastrophic frost event in recent memory,” Marshall says. "I know people planting hundreds of acres of tree fruits up around Ashcroft that 10 years ago, people would think they are absolutely crazy. Similarly I’ve sold some properties for cherries so high up from an elevation perspective that some farmers still cannot believe it.” Geen says his brother David is a great example of that trend, as Coral Beach invests millions in land, infrastructure and new plantings. “Look at how my brother has planted cherries way up in Pritchard,” he says. “Yes, there was a huge winter kill situation there around 1969, but with new varieties and the changes from global warming, that area is coming back. “Now I have clients buying land that others thought didn’t make any sense. ‘Winter kill, frost damage, what are you buying that for?’ But the reality of it is, global warming has changed things.” Pauluzzi says he’s had to change his thinking due to global warming as well. “When I started in this business, I learned from this great agrologist and appraiser named Les Holmes, and he always told me if you see these (types of) lands being planted, you know the market’s gone
insane,” said Pauluzzi. “But now, you’re seeing it happen in higher elevations to get a later crop, so you’re not competing with everyone in the valley bottoms or the lower benches. “If you’re higher up, you’re able to sell later when there’s no cherries, so that’s why they do it,” he adds. “All the cherries from the summer are gone, and they now have cherries to bring into the market when no one else does.” Part Five: Rise of the Hobby Farmer While the vast majority of the price increases had to do with the cherry and grape sectors, experts say the COVID-19 pandemic combined with the red-hot real estate market in the Lower Mainland are also factors. For many years the Okanagan Valley has experienced the phenomenon of urban dwellers selling off their high-priced city homes, and buying a 10-acre parcel for a combined home and hobby farm. The experts we spoke to said the pandemic has accelerated that process. “Covid has had a fascinating effect on agricultural land because people have realized they can now work wherever they want to,” Marshall says. “I’m seeing a ton of people from the Lower Mainland coming here, they’ve sold their urban home for two and a half million, and then they
look at what they can get in the Okanagan for that kind of money. “If they like the idea of having a hobby farm with revenue coming off the land, and a beautiful farm or orchard to look at, they can roll the money they’ve made from their Lower Mainland home into quite an impressive property up here,” he adds. “That’s had a strong effect on pricing.” Geen says he’s seeing the same thing. “I think COVID was an eye-opening experience for a lot of people who have lived in larger cities their whole lives, and then they realize, ‘Maybe I don’t want to be living in a 40-story condo, or jammed in with a lot of other people’, but they don’t want to move to the boondocks because they want the amenities, the international airport, the university, and so on. “In the Central Okanagan there’s a draw there because you can have a lot more space and not be off in the total boondocks.” As well, Geen points out that owners of hobby farms get a concrete benefit in the form of tax breaks for farm land, as long as they keep the land in production. “My brother Kevin lives on a 10-acre orchard property out in Okanagan Center,” he said. “Big Craftsman style home with stunning views of Okanagan Lake and all Summer 2021
that stuff, but the land is all planted as orchard, so the land taxes on the orchard part are very low. Farm status is a good thing!” Pauluzzi says the pandemic trend can be seen in recent farm appraisals, and in the people who are buying up smaller parcels after moving from the Lower Mainland or other urban areas. “We are getting people moving into the Okanagan from the Lower Mainland,” he says. “COVID has really changed peo-
ple’s perspective on commuting to work, so now you have people taking early retirement, they have money from their property, they come here and realize, wow, I could run a smaller five or 10 acre vineyard, have some fun and change my lifestyle.” The Land Rush Is Here to Stay All the experts we spoke to said they don’t believe the current market is a bubble, and all believe demand and prices will remain high. Demand for BC’s high
quality wines continues to grow, and that industry will likely improve even further as climate change allows for more plantings in what were once marginal lands. The same is even more true for the cherry market. Demand for cherries from China is almost insatiable, and while that country is noted for imposing punishing trade tariffs on its critics, including Canada, most observers believe the cherry sector is too small to present an attractive target for that type of trade dispute, unlike Canada’s canola or pork industries. As a result, Pauluzzi predicts there will be a strong market for decades to come. “I don’t see this changing, I really don’t,” he said. “If COVID doesn’t hurt the market, I don’t know what could. Other than a complete economic failure, what can derail this market?” A bigger question for farmers in this sector will be how to locate land that is both affordable and practical for inclusion in the lucrative grape and cherry sectors. Geen and Marshall say growers will almost certainly continue looking northward and upward for land needed for expansion. Those lands benefit from lower prices, and while they may be more subject to the risk of frost damage, they also present the opportunity for a later cherry crop that commands higher prices. Areas like Ashcroft and Pritchard are now coming into their own for fruit production, and at prices that are a fraction of land in the Okanagan Valley.
An effective health and safety plan involves everyone. The planning decisions you make today can affect the health and safety of workers tomorrow.
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32 Summer 2021
That said, Pauluzzi also says the changes in the market are so rapid and so vast that it’s almost a requirement to get an appraisal on the land, and to have a specialty agrologist check out more northerly properties to assess the risk of frost damage. “We have our ears to the rail and we know what’s happening in the market, so it’s definitely a good idea to get an appraisal in general,” he said. “But, now that we are seeing such significant price increases over a short period of time, it’s hard to keep up, and therefore it’s more important so you can be sure you’re getting the value for your land in this market. Properties are literally selling over list, and unless you’re in the industry, you wouldn’t necessarily know that.” ■
Know Thy Soil, Improve Thy Fruit By Ronda Payne The best fruit comes from the right soil, making soil testing an essential part of growing. On her website, the microgardener.com, Anne Gibson says, “Invest in your soil. Your plants will only be as healthy as the soil they’re grown in.”
Soil health is just as important in an established orchard, berry field or vineyard as it is for a new planting area because over time, climate, growing conditions, pests and other factors change the soil. It needs to be considered in all stages of fruit production from planting to harvest as soil health is part of the overall ecosystem of the plants. In fact, in a talk about growing for seeds, Connie Kuramoto of Gardens on the Go Horticultural Training and Services says optimal soil conditions grow healthy plants that produce healthy seeds. “No matter how you slice it, healthy soil is important,” she says. She suggests that examining the soil for biological fertility (macro and microfauna, organic matter, biological activity) is even more important than the chemical composition. The physical fertility (structure, composition, water movement, etc.) is also key to the entire soil health – and therefore plant health – outcome. Sonja Peters, agrologist and owner of Greenbush Greenhouses and Farm and Greenbush Consulting of Lumby, refers to Gibson’s point about soil health when asked why soil testing is important. “The soil in an orchard or vineyard is such an important aspect of crop management,” she says. “Soil health and quality are important in producing high-yielding, top-quality fruit. It’s also important for long-term plant health, especially in adverse weather conditions.”
While her advice is intended for smallscale gardeners, the same facts hold true for commercial-scale growers with orchards and vineyards. Healthy plants grow in healthy soils that meet plant needs and the plants, in turn, will deliver the best quality fruit.
Anne Gibson encourages soil testing for biological fertility and chemical composition.
Almost all growers have some sort of soil and/or nutrient plan, but what is that based on? If established planting areas haven’t been tested in more than three years, it’s time. Plans for new planting areas need to include soil testing as well. Samples should be taken in the spring or the fall. Not only do sample results allow the grower to add amendments to the area before peak growing begins, they also ensure money isn’t wasted on additives that may not be needed and could adversely impact the environment. Soil tests fall into two different categories, according to Peters. “Soil tests help determine the acidity of or alkalinity, salinity, relative quantities of available plant nutrient and organic matter content of the soil,” she explains. “Foliar or petiole testing can also help determine which nutrients are lacking.” Soils can vary dramatically within a growing block, so multiple samples should be taken and sent to a lab for analysis. For
detailed advice on taking soil samples, she recommends the BC Tree Fruit Production Guide (in the fruit tree nutrition section) or the British Columbia Wine Grape Council’s Best Practices Guide for Grapes (in the vineyard establishment and vineyard maintenance sections). Simplistically, she explains the process as: “Traverse the sample area in a zigzag pattern and sample one meter from the trunk of 20 to 30 trees, depending on the size of the field. The more samples that are taken, the more accurate the results will be.” The hole should be 15 to 30 centimeters deep before taking a 2.5-centimeter slice from the bottom (about 500 grams of soil), place in a bucket and repeat for each tree. “When done, remove any rocks or organic matter like grass, leaves or roots from the sample, mix it well and place it in the sample container.”
Each lab has its own sampling form, so label the sample containers correctly and fill out the forms including the type of crop before mailing the sample in. Results will be provided by email within a week or two including interpretation and potentially some recommendations. “Be sure to use values that are specific to your crop,” she advises. “When comparing target values with those on the lab report, ensure that the units and method are the same. The goal is to determine if your levels for each nutrient are low, optimal or excessive.”
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She recommends the Best Practices Guide for Grapes for grape target values and the Washington State University guide to fruit tree nutrition and management. Growers might also ask their fruit associations for crop-specific resources. “Once you know which nutrients are low in the soil of your field, you can now take this information and update your nutrient program,” she says. “Organic matter, soil structure and nutrients can be added using quality compost and manure products. If you have access to compost or manure, then this is an excellent option and can be applied at the base of the trees. Be sure to keep the material away from the trunk of the tree.” Any manure or compost applied to a field should also be tested as explained by Lindsey Slaughter, soil microbial ecology/biochemistry assistant professor with the department of Plant and Soil Science with Texas Tech University. She oversaw thesis research of graduate student Rael Otuya, who had the team undertake a two-year study exploring the interaction between composted manure application
and increased soil health. “If someone is using their own manure or locally provided manure from another farmer, they should definitely get the manure analyzed for nutrient levels including nitrogen if possible, phosphorus, potassium and other nutrients that we commonly test for in fertilizers and soils before use,” Slaughter says. “Farmers should treat manure like a fertilizer, where the carbon and benefits to soils and microbes is a bonus.” Because the study was done in a semi-arid region, the soil was lacking in soil microbial biomass and soil carbon, both of which assist in the breakdown of organic matter, improve overall soil health and increase the vigor of plants. Although this testing was done in forage fields, the outcomes can be extended to other crop types. “There are some general results from our study and others that hold true across North America, namely adding manure increases soil carbon and microbes,” Slaughter notes. Peters suggests referring to management schedules in the BC Crop Production Guides to help determine what types of fertilizers to apply and when. Manure may not be the ideal solution depending upon crop and soil needs. Additionally, she says some types of nutrients may be better applied by foliar fertilization, such as boron, zinc, magnesium and sometimes calcium. Soil health is the very foundation of quality fruit, yet sometimes it is overlooked or assumed to be the same as it had been in previous years. Regular soil tests will give growers the information they need to ensure their fruit has the best start possible. ■
Mobile Juice Factory - Turn Your Excess Fruit into Juice
Okanagan orchardists can have Mobile Juice Factory turn their excess fruit into juice, increase their income and help the environment.
By Tom Walker It’s not surprising that an award-winning organic orchardist, viticulturist and wine maker would be concerned about the impact that the fruit industry has on the environment. “Every year there are thousands of pounds of waste fruit going into the landfills,” says Karnail Sidhu, who recently won the BC Grapegrowers Association Viticulturalist of the Year award. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Okanagan orchardists have a convenient option if they want to turn their excess fruit into juice, increase their income and help the environment. In addition to growing and making award winning organic wines, Karnail owns the Mobile Juice Factory and will travel to your orchard and press your fruit. “We provide orchardists an alternative to dumping, as well as creating a value-added product,” Karnail explains. “We serve the smaller fruit grower,
someone who might have their own roadside stand. If they have extra fruit at the end of the season or culls that they want to use, we can turn them into juice and pack it up in a bag in the box.” The Mobile Juice Factory will travel to an orchard if a grower has as little as 10 bins of fruit. “That is the minimum order that we can process at an orchard site,” Karnail explains. But if you have less, he will
Karnail Sidhu, owns the Mobile Juice Factory and will travel to your orchard and press your fruit. Summer 2021
Meet our Agriculture Services Team We are dedicated to helping you achieve your business goals and creating a flexible and customized banking solution that is right for your farming operation.
Jeremy Siddall District Vice President – Pacific Agriculture Services British Columbia 250-681-4656 firstname.lastname@example.org
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work to see if he can coordinate with another farm. “If I have a call for six bins in Oliver for instance, I will try and connect with another grower in the area and see if we can make up the 10-bin minimum for the trip.” And backyard growers won’t be left out. “We also offer a juicing service to home growers, through our community juicing events,” Karnail explains. “Someone who may only have one or two trees in their yard, but they want to put up some juice for their family. “We set up the juice factory here at the winery in West Kelowna and we also travel to other communities such as Salmon Arm, Armstrong and Abbotsford and hold day-long juicing events,” Karnail explains. With a minimum of 150 pounds of fruit, the backyard grower will go home with nine or ten, 5-liter bag-inthe-box containers of juice. If you are a small winery or cidery, the juice factory can adapt their line to produce unpasteurized juice, suitable for fermentation. If you want custom labels or a different size box, they can do that too. Apples are the most common juicing option, but Karnail says they can handle pears, cherries and other stone fruits, berries, grapes and even some vegetables. Indeed, Kalala sells organic ABC juice (Apple, Beet and Carrot) at the winery tasting room. The fruit just needs to be clean and Karnail warns they should not be windfalls that could carry a fungus. The fruit is loaded into the juice machine by hand. “We are able to give one last sort to the fruit as we load it,” Karnail says. The fruit is washed twice on the way to be shredded and then pressed. After being flash pasteurized, the pure juice (no additives) comes off the line and is vacuum packed into plastic pouches. The leftover fruit mash is collected in a bin. The boxed juice is shelf stable for a year and can stay fresh for up to three months after opening, without refrigeration. Keep it out of the landfill, join a juicing event and get an amazing product with your very own fruit. “This is the healthiest juice that you can get,” says Karnail. “The list of ingredients is just two words, ‘pure juice’." ■
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THE WORD ON WINE | CARIE JONES
Small but Mighty: BC’s 2020 Vintage
ome are calling 2020 the vintage of the decade, and for good reason. A small but mighty vintage, 2020 produced low yields of high-quality fruit, which created wines with excellent flavour concentration, ripe tannins and great acidity and structure which will have wine lovers clamouring to get their hands on a bottle or two before this incredible vintage is gone. On December 2, 2020, Wine Growers British Columbia (WGBC) held its annual Winemakers & Viticulturalists' Forum for the first time virtually to adhere to provincial COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings and events. The virtual event, led by Master of Wine Rhys Pender, saw 61 winemakers and viticulturalists from around the province
gather online to discuss the 2019/2020 growing season from winter through harvest. Due to the virtual nature of this year’s event, a panel of six winemakers and viticulturalists were invited to help facilitate an engaging discussion with attendees. Prior to the forum, WGBC collected responses from an industrywide survey and collated together with the virtual discussion to form the 2020 Vintage Report. In the Okanagan Valley, the sentiments from winemakers and viticulturalists were very similar. Ideal summer weather which continued into the fall provided a long growing season with lots of sun and low rainfall, contributing to exceptional quality of fruit with high concentration, ripe tannins and great natural acidity, along with the balance, complexity and freshness that will provide great ageability. The Similkameen Valley saw very similar conditions to the Okanagan Valley, with one notable difference – none of the cooler and damper
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weather around flowering that the Okanagan Valley experienced which contributed to lower yields. Many Similkameen winemakers reported a full and healthy crop. The rest of the BC interior had similar weather with a cooler and damper start to the season before the warm, sunny summer kicked in to provide ideal ripening conditions, which produced wines with crisp, fresh acidity and excellent flavour. The Coastal regions, which typically experience a very different vintage due to the moderating influence of the Pacific Ocean and the Strait of Georgia, saw a cooler and rainy June before the sun returned for July and August producing fruit that created wines with the typical fresh island style, natural acidity, balance and slightly lower alcohol levels. The 2020 Icewine vintage was just as unique as the overall 2020 vintage, producing the smallest Icewine crop in the last 20 years, with only seven of the 14 wineries registered picking 74.75 tonnes of the
300 registered tonnes. As with every vintage, 2020 had its own exceptional personality and story, producing lower quantities of extremely high-quality fruit that have produced wines with incredible flavour and ripe tannins which make for elegant, fresh and balanced wines that beautifully express BC's distinctive terroir and climate. The 2020 vintage is perfect for savouring today or cellaring for a special occasion. ■ View the full 2020 Vintage Report on WineBC.com. Carie Jones, Communications Manager, Wine Growers British Columbia
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MARKETING MIX | LEEANN FROESE
How to Take Your Own Brand Photos: 10 Tips & Tricks angles. Be sure you tap the screen of your smartphone to focus the camera and ensure that it's properly focused.
capturing photos, aim for as high of a resolution your device will allow. Remember: you can always make images smaller, but not the other way around! We recommend always keeping a backup of your original photo when editing, just in case.
eed fresh, new photos for your brand’s social media or website but don’t have access to a professional photographer? Thanks to smartphones and photo editing apps, you can now take high-quality photos yourself! Check out our 10 tips below to improve your phone photography game: 1 - Use Gridlines Balancing your shot with gridlines is a quick and easy way to significantly improve your photos! Turn on this camera function and follow the “rule of thirds” by placing along the lines. Your photo will appear more level and natural. 2 - Resolution is Key In a nutshell, resolution is the quality of the image. The higher the resolution, the clearer, sharper, more defined and detailed the image. When
5 - Avoid Zooming In Tempted to zoom in when you’re trying to capture something from a distance? To prevent pixelating the photo and compromising quality, try to move closer to your subject – maintaining a safe social distance, of course - or take the photo from a distance and crop it when editing.
3 - Use Natural Light Flash often makes photos look overexposed, negatively altering colors and making human subjects look washed out. Take advantage of the sources of natural light you can find around the house, whether it’s by a window, on the balcony or in the backyard. When posting or staging objects, follow model Isabella Carr’s advice of always turning toward the light - especially if it’s natural sunlight - because “this brightens your face and makes you glow, which kind of results in your blemishes being blurred away!”
6 - Embrace Negative Space Referring to the areas around and between the subjects in an image, including empty space, will help your subject stand out. Negative space can take the form of open sky, empty fields, large wall, or body of water. 7 - Ask for Assistance For a more professional look, either ask a family member, partner or roommate to press the shutter, or turn on your camera’s self-timer. Pro tip: ensure the shot comes out as you pictured by taking the same photo of someone else first, so that they can refer-
4 - Focus on One Subject For novice photographers, start small and focus shots on a single subject. That way, you can spend extra time cleaning up the surrounding environment and playing around with
ence it when they’re behind the camera. As model Shannon Thaler once said, “When taking a full-body pic, I like to have the camera [person] hold the camera just below eye-level. A pic aimed everso-slightly upward makes for long lines—Hello, legs!” 8 - But First, Let Me Take a Selfie Here are three best practices to keep in mind when taking the perfect selfie: • Know Your Angles: Hold your phone at arm’s-length to capture subjects from the waist-up. • Relax: According to influencer Kate Rooney, the best way to look calm, cool and collected in your photos is to actually be calm, cool and collected. Shake off the nerves by taking deep breaths, putting on music you can groove to, and using fun props! • #OOTD (outfit of the day): Experiment with outfit colours and styles to see what translates best on camera. Black and white are safe options, but don’t be afraid to amp it up with patterns and brand-aligned palettes.
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9 - Capture Candids With social media platforms increasingly emphasizing authentic content and organic growth, spontaneous and behindthe-scenes shots can be far more intriguing for your online audience. Candid photos capture the emotion and essence of a moment more effectively. One of the best ways to capture candids is take as many as possible! That way, you'll have more to choose from when editing. 10 - Find Inspiration Galleries such as Pinterest are a great resource for finding photo inspiration for a wide range of topics, including wine & drink, sports, corporate, and many more. Check out the 30 best photography Instagram accounts to follow in 2021
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40 Summer 2021
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MONEY MATTERS | AJ GILL
The Impact of Changes to Agristability for Growers
anada’s federal, provincial, and territorial (FPT) ministers of agriculture recently agreed to remove the reference margin limit (RML) for AgriStability, one of the business risk management (BRM) programs under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. The removal of the RML will be made retroac-
Producers and sectors which had low AgriStability eligible costs and corresponding limited reference margins, will now benefit from higher reference margins and better coverage.
tive to the 2020 program year. The objectives in making this change are to help simplify the program and help farmers in need by increasing the level of support for agricultural operations that are highly mechanized or use family labour causing lower allowable expenses.
The most important thing to understand is that RML increased the margin drop required to trigger benefits substantially when we relate it back to the original reference margin. Specifically, farms for which RML applied required a 30 to 51% drop, depending on degree of limiting, relative to their original reference margin to trigger AgriStability benefits. That is what made
BC Ministry of Agriculture led the way for this change. The British Columbia AgriStability Enhancement program that was introduced in 2019 also included the elimination of the RML. How do these changes benefit you and your farm?
REVENUE DROP REQUIRED TO TRIGGER AGRISTABILITY
Percentage Drop in Revenue
the program so much less responsive when RML applied. Under RML, many farms had required a 30-51% margin drop to trigger benefits. With its removal, ALL farms now require only a 30% margin drop to trigger benefits. AgriStability program changes FAQ Q: Doesn’t AgriStability require a 30% revenue drop for any farm to trigger benefits? A: No, the 30% drop advertised by the AgriStability Program is a drop relative to your reference margin. The revenue drop required varies depending on the type of INDUSTRY SECTORS: Group 1
• Beef - Feedlot • Greenhouse • Hog - Farrow to Finish • Nursery • Tree Fruits
Group 2 • Beef- Cow/Calf • Dairy • Grain/Oilseed • Hog - Farrow to Finish • Hutterite Colony • Poultry
0% 0.00 0.10 0.20 0.30 0.40 0.50 0.60 0.70 0.80 0.90 1.0 Eligible Expenses/ Eligible Revenue Ratio
Low Cost Structures
• Apiary • Bee Pollinator • Cranberry • Maple Syrup • Organic Crop High Cost Structures
The graph above examines the cost structure for various farming sectors and shows how cost structure relates to the responsiveness of the AgriStability program. We highlight the revenue trigger points required to trigger AgriStability for various types of farms. Revenue trigger points represent the drop in revenue (through production loss, price loss or a combination of both) required to trigger AgriStability. We have found that revenue trigger points are easier for producers to relate to than margin trigger points, because most farm disasters have a significant revenue loss component. It also helps producers who may have dropped out of the AgriStability program in the past, whether due to perceived impacts of RML or otherwise, visualize that they should probably get back going forward.
farm and cost structure. Revenue drop percentages are labelled along the line graph with very low revenue drops in the bottom right hand corner and higher revenue drops on the left-hand side of the graph. Q: Where would different types of farms fit on this graph and what kind of revenue drops would they require to trigger AgriStability benefits? A: Farms with a high cost structure (Industry Sectors Group 1) fit on the bottom right hand side and require a revenue drop of 1.5% - 12% to trigger AgriSta-
bility benefits. Moving left on the graph, farms with a moderate cost structure (Industry Sectors Group 2) require an estimated 12% - 19.5% revenue drop, and those with a low-cost structure (Industry Sectors Group 3) require an estimated 19.5% - 25.5% revenue drop. Q: What difference does knowing the revenue drop required to trigger AgriStability benefits make for me? A: It is critical that you know and understand what level of revenue drop is required, as well as what risks might contribute to a revenue drop for your
operation to make a proper decision on AgriStability participation. Q: What difference did removal of the RML have on the revenue drops required to trigger AgriStability benefits? A: The orange line (labelled RML) on the graph, when compared to the white line (labelled No RML), shows the potential impact that RML had on revenue drop trigger points for certain farms in Group 2 and Group 3. Certain farms in these sectors will benefits from substantially lower revenue drop trigger points now that RML has been removed. Q: How would I go about figuring out the eligible expense to eligible revenue ratio to determine where my farming operation would fit on this graph?
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A: Eligible revenue and eligible expense are both defined by AgriStability program rules. Ideally, you would have to know the average eligible revenue and eligible expense from the three years used to calculate your Olympic Average reference margin for AgriStability. These amounts can be estimated using the most recent AgriStability Calculation of Program Benefits (COB) notices and / or accrued financial statements. Estimation of AgriStability reference margins, particularly if you have not participated in AgriStability recently or if you do not have up to date COBs can be difficult for a number of reasons. We would recommend the estimates not be undertaken without the assistance of an advisor that is proficient in AgriStability policy and procedures. Next steps AJ Gill is the Regional Leader for Agriculture Risk Management Resources with MNP. Contact AJ to enroll if you have either previously opted out of or never participated in the AgriStability Program. The 2021 AgriStability Enrolment Deadline has been extended from April 30 to June 30, 2021, and enrollment has been simplified for returning participants, who now you have a choice to base coverage on the past three years or a five-year average. AJ can help you to determine the option that gives you the highest coverage. ■ Contact AJ at 250-469-6488 or aj.gill@ mnp.ca or visit MNP.ca/ARMR to watch a short video further explaining the AgriStability changes.
SEEDS OF GROWTH | GLEN LUCAS
How to Use the Tree Fruit Production Guide
he Tree Fruit Production Guide is an important part of tree fruit farming, as it not only contains the all-important spray schedules, but also the ‘how-to’ of growing tree fruit crops in the Interior of BC. The Guide covers both organic and conventional tree fruit production practices. While some think of the TFPG as simply the spray schedules, the
• Pests (Insects and Mites, Diseases, Wildlife Damage Prevention, Weed Control) • Pesticides • Resources (including Grower Records)
Guide contains much more information, and the BCFGA has also created an electronic, on-line version that can provide the spray products information (e.g. pest, REI, PHI, and rates) via internet to connected programs such as DAS and Crop Tracker. It is an exciting future, but we need more growers to participate in these programs.
The content of the guide is reviewed and authorized by the BC Ministry of Agriculture and published by the BCFGA. The spray schedules are the most used and therefore important part of the TFPG. For quick, in-field reference, the spray schedules are viewable on cell phones, with products displayed in the ‘card’ format. Most growers like to have a printed version of the spray schedules. Spray schedules can be printed on-line (look in the upper right hand corner of the spray schedule for a printer icon, then print
The TFPG is available at no charge on-line and includes the following chapters: • Safety • Integrated Fruit Production (IFP) and Organics • Horticulture (Crop Management, Fruit Tree Nutrition, Varieties and Pollination, Irrigation and Air Quality, Spray Thinning, Growth Regulators and Sunburn Protection)
the schedule with your PDF viewer), or ordered from the BCFGA at www.bcfga.com// orderform.php?pageID=318. Through the magic of technology, if a change to the spray schedule is made this morning (e.g. a new product or application rate), the change is entered into the TFPG database and when the grower logs in, the information provided is the most recent, updated version. Because of this ability to change within the year, we have implemented two important ‘control’ items: • First, a printed spray schedule will have the most recent change date recorded at the top of the page, so that growers may check if their printed copy is up-to-date.
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• Second, a “Change Log” in the upper right-hand corner of the TFPG homepage will show all changes and the dates of the changes. Growers can check the change log to see if there is anything new in the spray schedules. But the TFPG can do much more and provide more value to growers. Since the spray schedule information is in a database that is “in the cloud”, there is an ability to link the spray schedule to other programs. For example, SIR’s Decision Aid System (DAS) links into the spray schedule database. What does this mean for growers?
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• First, there is no need to cross-reference information. It is ‘drawn in’ from the cloud database to the DAS system.
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• Second, instead of ‘hard coding’ the spray information into DAS, the system draws out the information from the cloud database and the information is up-to-date to that moment in time. With hard coding, any changes needed to be re-entered manually (which could result in delays and transcription errors). • Third, the DAS system automatically finds and displays the spray information on the pest, instead of having to find it in the spray schedule. Work to link the spray schedule to Crop Tracker (a spray record-keeping program) has been delayed by COVID-19, but we are meeting with Crop Tracker in May 2021 to get the project back on track. This will be a great time saver for growers recording their sprays, and there is a huge benefit (time saving and added value) of being able to easily share the records. As one small example, you can share a map which highlights reentry dates, so your workers and family, SIR staff, and horticultural advisors (and others you have shared the map with) will be able to check the map on their phones to see which areas of the orchard are safe to enter. A concern is the capability of growers to take on electronic spray records. A recent study completed by Lee Cartier and Svan Lembke at Okanagan College indicated that: • 98% of growers keep spray records but only 16.7% in digital format with opportunities for analysis.
44 Summer 2021
• The industry has free use of a Decision Aid Systems (DAS) with spray information for apple and cherry growers. Only 30% of growers use the DAS. Many growers receive generic information from the DAS via emails sent by horticultural advisors. The email information is not orchard specific. The researchers proposed that the tree fruit industry should set goals of increasing the number of growers who electronically record their crop practices, and developing a critical mass with growers that can and want to adopt new tree fruit farming solutions such as DAS and other “precision agriculture” technologies. To achieve these goals, the following steps are proposed by the researchers: 1. Develop a technology adoption strategic plan, setting out goals and milestones for the identification, testing and adoption of new technologies. 2. Develop a multi-year training plan that outlines how to communicate with growers and enable them to understand and adopt new solutions for their established farming practices.
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3. Research projects to enable economic impact analysis of innovations such as smart irrigation, smart spraying, etc. 4. Development of information technology systems that enable easy capture of grower data (eg. via a smartphone app [such as Crop Tracker]) to be used for specific orchard and industry-wide decision making about pest management.
BC’s Winery Insurance Experts
The second point on the list - providing grower education sessions to help growers achieve the capabilities and the comfort to adopt new technology - will be critical to the success of any industrywide adoption of new technology. With training, growers will be able to take full advantage of the tools made possible by an electronic TFPG. The BCFGA will seek to support this ambitious plan for its members. The linkage to the cloud database for TFPG spray schedules was put in place five years ago. Now it is time for growers and programs to catch up and make use of this excellent resource through automated spray recording programs and DAS. ■ Glen Lucas BCFGA
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CANADIAN WINEMAKERS SERIES | GINA FERNANDES HARFMAN
4th Generation Winemaker at Nostalgia Wines Gina Fernandes Harfman: My greatgrandfather on my dad’s side was a vineyard owner in Yugoslavia. His son made the journey to Osoyoos and started cattle ranching in the early 1900s. My maternal grandfather, Joe Fernandes, came to Osoyoos in the ‘50s from Madeira Island, Portugal. He was the first Portuguese immigrant to purchase orchard land, paying $7,000 for seven acres that is still in our family today. So, you can say that farming is in my blood! My father converted his orchards to vineyard in the 1990s, and I made wine for a family event in 2009 using my father’s grapes, with the help of a local winemaker. That’s when I fell in love with winemaking and dove in head first! O&V: Where did you go to school or apprentice? Gina: I enrolled in the Assistant Winemakers course at Okanagan College in 2009. I started working for Cassini Cellars in 2009 and then Oliver Twist Estate Winery in 2010. I purchased Oliver Twist in 2012, and renamed the winery Nostalgia Wines this spring. It’s the 15th anniversary of the winery and vineyard, so it was time to align the name with my philosophy that enjoying wine is all about making and sharing memories with friends and family. O&V: Have you worked in any other countries? Gina: No, I never found the time to travel. I worked hard all through high school and managed to purchase two pieces of land just after college. One was an orchard, of course. I had two businesses to run right up until I purchased the winery. I call on the experience of my assistant winemaker Brendan Miu and my general manager Sheila Whittaker for their significant international wine experience. Brendan has a Master of Oenology degree from University of Adelaide, and five years of international winemaking experience with exceptional producers. Brendan’s winery work spans Australia, New Zealand, California and British Co46 Summer 2021
lumbia and his journey in the wine industry has been guided by passion and quality. Sheila lived and worked in Japan, Greece, Ireland, Scotland, Montreal and Vancouver before returning to her hometown of Osoyoos in 2019. She worked for a large international wine import agency as a marketing director for seven years, she’s a Certified Sommelier, and has a depth of wine knowledge, experience and studies. Photo by Nostalgia Wines Inc.
O&V: How did you get started in the wine industry?
O&V: What is your favourite varietal to work with? Gina: I grow nine different varietals in my vineyard, and I make around 20 different wines. The grapes and flavours are all so different and unique. I love working with straight varietals, but blends allow us as winemakers to really reach for the next level. If I had to choose a favourite varietal, I have the most fun with Merlot. I make rosés with it, a lighter style red blend, a heavy red blend, full bodied straight varietal, and port-style fortified wine. The Merlot I grow here on the Black Sage Bench has such a delicious dark cherry character. My Merlot is always the pixie dust; it just beautifies so many wines. O&V: What is the best thing about your job? Gina: The best thing about my job is that I never get bored! I’m not just the winemaker; I run the whole business, and I’m a mom of two little ones. As a winemaker, I guess it would be the sense of accomplishment. From working in the vineyards, harvesting the grapes, and seeing it all come together in the tank, and then the bottle. It’s a huge planning process creating the wines. From working with the vineyards, the growers, the grapes, barrel and yeast choices, the processing, blending, filtering, bottling. There are a lot of decisions that need to be made all year long. O&V: Is there a particular wine or vintage that you have made that you are most proud of? Gina: I’m really looking forward to the 2020 red wines. They are all showing
Gina Fernandes Harfman in the vineyard.
quite beautifully so far with such rich flavours, nice acidity and all really well balanced. I had the pleasure of working with two wine consultants this past harvest, Christine Leroux and Pascal Madevon. I also introduced Brendan Miu to my team as assistant winemaker. He brings a lot of knowledge and special techniques. The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon, not yet bottled or released, is showing a lot of promise to become one of my favourites. The grapes came from my family’s vineyard on Osoyoos east bench, right on the US border. This location benefits from its South-eastern position and the moderating influence of the lake effect, thanks to its position on the hillside above Osoyoos Lake. This allows maximum ripeness to this Cabernet Sauvignon, which was established in 1999. The wine itself is quite heavy, rich, with dark fruit, black currants and vanilla. It was aged in oak barrels for 15 months, and I used mostly French, but some American too. The result is an intense and dark wine full of black current, blackberry, cherry and spice aromas and flavours. I’ll be producing a varietal Cabernet Sauvignon and a Meritage blend from the 2019 Cab Sauv. It’s not even bottled yet, and already shows such complexity and harmony between the appetizing acidity and full structure with a persistent finish. ■
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