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'No Okanagan stone fruit' coming to B.C. grocer this year due to cold snap


An independent B.C. grocery store says it won't have Okanagan peaches, apricots, plums or nectarines on store shelves this summer due to the cold snap the province experienced earlier in the year.

Lepp Farm Market, located in Abbotsford, warned customers last month its offerings will be different this season.

"There will be no Okanagan stone fruit this year; the deep January freeze wiped out this summer's crop of apricots, peaches, nectarines and plums in the entire Okanagan valley," a statement from grocery store's owner said. "It takes my breath away just to say that, and when I told our granddaughter the news, she burst into tears. 'Nana, what do you mean there won't be any peaches?'"

The owner explained the stone fruit trees didn't harden off in the way they typically would because of last fall's unseasonably warm temperatures. Conditions worsened when the weather abruptly turned.

"When the record-breaking deep freeze and icy winds hit for almost a week in January, the trees weren't ready for it, and all the blossoms froze," the statement said. "Thankfully, the trees survived, but all we have this year are leafy, green trees without any fruit."

In recent months, local growers have issued dire warnings to consumers about the impacts B.C.'s extreme weather is having on crops. 

B.C. Fruit Growers' Association president Peter Simonsen said earlier this year he expects harvests for peaches, apricots, nectarines and plums to be down at least 90 per cent.

And it's not just stone fruits that are suffering. B.C.'s wine grape growers said the January chill that sent temperatures in some parts of the Okanagan plunging to -27 C destroyed up to 99 per cent of the province's harvest.

A B.C. wine industry representative said in a statement that over the past several years wine growers have faced a heat dome, wildfire smoke and destructive cold. 

"The ongoing climate change effects, highlighted by recent freeze events on B.C. farmers, is real and directly impacts those individuals and families that make up our industry," said Miles Prodan, Wine Growers B.C. president.

Hoping to adapt to this season's unpredictable crops, Lepp Farms said it's looking to source stone fruits from outside of B.C., likely from Ontario or Washington. The independent grocer said apple and cherry trees are hardier and were able to withstand January's harsh cold, which means local options for those fruits will likely be stocked this season.

With files from The Canadian Press Top Stories

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