Opportunities and barriers associated with B.C. cherry production

The climate component of crop suitability modelling for Sweetheart cherries over the past five decades in the Okanagan region has shown a significant expansion in northern and higher elevation areas due to decreasing frost. Building on this, it was investigated whether the soil microbiological conditions were also suitable for establishing Sweetheart cherry orchards in locations that matched climate suitability. The study found that soils in newly established orchards were more biologically suitable than older orchards, highlighting the importance of managing soil health in established orchards. Building from these findings, the next Farm Adaptation Innovator Program project focuses on water management practices given increasing regional water scarcity, a potential limitation for orchard expansion. This project primarily investigates whether reducing irrigation following harvest can reduce water demand for cherry orchards, without compromising fruit quality and the long-term health and vigour of the orchard.

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