While proudly rooted in history and tradition, the sixth-generation Days family farm is looking forward to the future of tree fruit packing in the Okanagan.

After facing increasing requirements by retailers and regulators alike, Days Century Growers decided a “proactive investment” was needed, embarking on a project to expand the technological frontier for the local tree fruit sector.

After working with IAF to obtain funding through the Canada-BC Agri-Innovation Program, the Days were able to import and install a state-of-the-art packing line, box conveyor system and traceability program to enhance volume, efficiency and quality control at their Kelowna facility.

According to co-owner Kevin Day, the new packing line from Holland is specifically tailored to pears, offering unprecedented optical sorting technology within Canada.

“This is one of the most exciting projects ever undertaken on our farm…the Van Wamel Perfect Grader includes the first pear-specific high-resolution defect sorting system of its kind in Canada,” he reports, noting the grader not only scans and sorts the pears for all types of external defects but is equally efficient at sorting the many shapes of pear varieties and precisely measures weight, size and colour.

Having successfully completed a full harvest with the help of their new equipment, the Days are thrilled to find the new technology is significantly increasing efficiency and production with existing staff, as well as allowing them to partner with new growers to increase overall volume.

The new automated traceability system is similarly promising, with the ability to track fruit back to between six and eight trees within a block in each grower’s orchard. Thanks to the new database, a thorough profile of all fruit – including harvest date, location, harvester’s name and more – is just a few clicks away.

While the Days have been doing this manually for years, the new database is revolutionizing both efficiency and accuracy, even allowing them to trace forward to the end retail and consumer level using the barcodes on individual fruit.

“Thanks to government funding, we are now able to ensure a higher-quality pear is shipped from the Okanagan Valley throughout North America and potentially the world,” explains Kevin. “As retailers are asking for this type of technology, competitiveness in the marketplace will increase, resulting in an improved grower return for the industry and ultimately expanding the volume of pears grown in BC.”

Funding provided by the Governments of Canada and British Columbia through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. (INV097)