Early agricultural production in the Okanagan -Similkameen region was focused primarily on cattle ranching, as the local environment was well suited to cattle grazing and provided beef to expanding communities.
The development of the commercial orchard industry began when land speculators purchased parcels of ranch land and began subdividing them into ‘orchard plots’. The introduction of irrigation in the 1920’s turned this semi-arid desert-scape into a premier fruit growing area.
The Osoyoos area with its mild climate has been able to promote the earliest fruit in Canada, such as apples, pears, plums, sweet and sour cherries, peaches, apricots and grapes.
Apples, grapes and 96% of BC’s soft fruits are grown in the south-central Okanagan.
From 1986 to 2006 apple production remained the most dominant fruit crop in the Okanagan/Similkameen in terms of area under production.
There has however been a general shift away from many types of tree fruits in recent years, largely due to challenges with profitability. The early 1980’s to 2006 saw a decrease of 4,500 hectares in tree fruit production. Sweet cherry production however increased substantially during this period.
As tree fruit production has been shrinking, acreage has been shifting into wine grapes.
Land in grape production increased significantly with about twice the amount of land in production in 2006 compared to 1986. The Okanagan – Similkameen accounted for 54% of all land in grape production in BC and over 14% of the total in Canada.
About 3% of the population in the Okanagan Similkameen is involved in agricultural production.
There is a viable organic industry in the region with approximately 100 acres of fruit being grown. Organic fruit is sold through independent sales agencies and primarily packed by the cooperative packinghouses.
The Okanagan as a whole contributes significantly to the organic production in the province across a range of crops including fruits, vegetables and greenhouse products. The Okanagan- Similkameen contains approximately 25% of the province’s organic farms.
Many roadside outlets in the region supply the local and tourist trade with fresh direct to the customer sales of fruit and vegetables and many of the packinghouses have stores with seasonal fruit for sale. There is a small but growing agri-tourism industry with farm tours, markets and restaurants for the summer tourist market.
Although orchards and vineyards are a major feature of the landscape in the Okanagan Similkameen, vegetables, field crops, greenhouse production and livestock farming complete the Agricultural Overview of the area.
Agriculture is a major contributor to the Okanagan’s economy, and includes a resilient mix of crops, livestock and processed products. Tourism, combined with the proximity of Kelowna and other centres, provides both local and export demand for added-value, high-value, and organic products, and for beverages such as cider, wine and beer.
This semi-arid region has exceptional growing conditions, with irrigation, fertile soil, hot summers and relatively mild winters.
Crops, Livestock & Food Processing
In northern areas, forage, dairy and cattle ranching are common, while tree-fruit and grape production dominate the central and south regions. The majority of B.C.’s tree fruit is produced here, and recent expansion of late-season grape and cherry farming is further enlarging the sector. Other products include sheep, goats, horses, poultry, berries, nuts, and greenhouse production.
To view the Agricultural Area Strategy for the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, click here.
Osoyoos Agricultural Businesses
BC Tree Fruits Cooperative
12617 87 St, Osoyoos, BC V0H 1V2
CFP Consolidated Fruit Packers, Ltd.
9707 128th Avenue Osoyoos, BC V0H 1V2
Fernandes Farms Ltd.
4303 62nd Ave Osoyoos , BC V0h 1V6
Hanna International Sales Inc.
44 Willow Crescent Osoyoos, BC V0H 1V3
K & C Silviculture
5564 Hwy 97 Oliver, BC V0H 1T0
5943 Hemlock Street Oliver, British Columbia V0H 1T0
R & N Management
4621 Ryegrass Road Oliver, BC V0H 1T1
Tony dos Santos Orchard
4005 – 25 Street Osoyoos, BC V0H 1V6