Oliver orchardist David Machial won four top awards at this year’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair held in Toronto.
David’s Red Delicious and Royal Gala took first place and his Golden Delicious a second place in the commercial apples category.
His Ambrosia placed second in the new varieties competition.
Competitors submit approximately a half dozen apples of each variety which is judged on the basis of colour, size and shape.
“The uniformity of the apples within each submission is particularly important,” David explained.
Seven other B.C. apple growers, all in the Okanagan, placed first, second or third in several categories.
“The Okanagan is a great place to grow apples. The higher humidity in eastern Canada means growers there are faced with scab and mildew,” David said.
The annual fair attracts entries from Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario as well as B.C.
“The growers here are very innovative and the Summerland Research and Development Centre is known around the world,” he said.
David is particularly proud of keeping up the family tradition of winning top awards at the Royal.
His uncles, Jack and Rick Machial, each won first place for their Golden Delicious in previous years.
David attributes the family’s success in competitions and business to perfectionism.
“We walk the orchards and pay attention to every detail,” David said.
He recalled his father, Joe Machial, and uncles saying that “you’re better off with 10 acres of good quality fruit than doing a poor job with 30 acres.”
David, his father and uncles use organic sprays whenever possible and employ integrated pest management techniques to promote beneficial insects while reducing the populations of harmful insects.
He grows seven varieties of apples on the 4.5-hectares leased from his parents.
Royal Gala is the largest of David’s plantings followed by Ambrosia, Fuji and McIntosh.
Braeburn, Golden Delicious and Red Delicious in total account for less than a hectare.
“I’m replacing my Red Delicious with Ambrosia,” he said.
He also has small plots of stone and soft fruit which he sells to pedlars who in turn supply his fruit to retail outlets.
All of David’s apples go to Fairview Orchards Ltd. Packing house in Oliver which is owned and operated by Joe and Rick.
Fairview ships Okanagan fruit to Asia, Latin America and throughout Canada.
“People like doing business with you when they know you’re putting out a good product. It also helps us attract and keep good employees,” said David, who works at the packing house when not in the orchard.
For the past five years David has served on the board of the Summerland Varieties Corporation which commercializes fruit varieties both domestically and internationally.
“I’ve learned so much about new varieties and patents—whole news aspects of the industry to me,” he said.
He is also active in the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association.
In 2005, David earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree with a major in marketing from UBC.
He’s glad he heeded his parents’ suggestion to try raising fruit before pursuing a career in marketing.
Originally he had planned his life the other way around, first marketing and if that didn’t work out, farming.
Reflecting on his former classmates who are working in tall buildings in big cities, David said, “The Okanagan is a pretty nice office.”
Susan McIver is The Herald's agriculture writer.
Other Top B.C. Winners
•Billy and Shauna Boerboom, Summerland. 1st place Golden Delicious; 3rd place Salish, Ambrosia and best collection of five varieties.
•Michelle Labelle, Penticton, 1st place Ambrosia.
•Dave and Arlene Sloan, Okanagan Falls. 1st place Salish.
•Deven Jell, Summerland. 1st place heaviest apple.
•Keith & Susan Johnstone, Naramata. 2 nd place Aurora Golden Gala.
•Jad Nijer, Kelowna, 2nd, heritage apples
•Jack Machial, Oliver. 3rd place Golden Delicious.