Two Summerland growers have received accolades at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.
Steve Brown of Happy Valley Harvest took third place in the Golden Delicious category and third place in for the best collection of five varieties.
Devin Jell of Gartrell Heritage Farms took second place for Ambrosia and first place for Aurora Golden Gala apples.
”B.C. apples rank among the finest in the world,” said Joe Sardinha, president of the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association. “The quality of our fruit is a simple reflection of the quality of our labour, land and horticultural techniques.”
Jell, who has been managing the Gartrell orchard for the past five years, said hard work has been behind the wins.
“The number one key to growing good fruit is pruning,” he said. “We put as much or more work into pruning than anyone else.”
He has already been pruning for next year’s crop.
The Gartrell farm consists of two properties. A 5.5-hectare parcel is in production while the second property, a five-hectare parcel, has just been planted.
Jell said he hopes to harvest a small crop from the newly planted orchard by next year.
Brown, who also works as a horticulturalist with the Okanagan Tree Fruit Company, said he puts time and effort into giving his orchard the attention it needs through proper thinning, watering and pruning.
“You can do more good than you think by doing a proper pruning job in the winter,” he said.
Attention to pruning will also result in fruit of good size and good quality, he said.