A Summerland orchard has received an award for fruit growing excellence.
Beulah Orchards, received the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association Soft Fruit Award, which was presented last week.
The award was one of three presented to B.C. orchards.
Michael Beulah grew up in Summerland on his grandfather’s orchard.
In 1982, after he had earned his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in crop protection, he purchased four hectares in Summerland and began farming.
He leased another four hectares, all in cherries, by 1994.
An additional two hectares is unplanted but scheduled for development.
Half of the orchard land in use is Lapins cherries.
Sweethearts account for 0.8 hectares, Staccato and Kootenay Special are planted on 1.2 hectares each and Skeena and Sentennial cherries are on 0.4 hectares each.
Over the years, the orchard has been replanted to newer varieties of cherries which ripen later in the year and are more resistant to splitting than some of the earlier varieties.
“Summerland has developed quite a few nice cherries for later in the season,” he said.
Beulah also operates a small packing line on the orchard. Most of the cherries grown are exported.
He said Graham Nelson, the broker for the orchard, has marketed the cherries over the years.
“He seems to go above and beyond,” Beulah said.
Two other Okanagan orchards were also recognized. Michel Labelle Farms in Penticton received the Golden Apple Award and Mike and Priscilla Melnichuk of Kelowna received the Compact Orchard Award.
The B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association represents 550 commercial orchards in the province.