News

Orchardists receive replant funding

Agriculture minister Don McRae announces funds to help orchardists replant, while in the Day orchard, amongst the young apple trees Wednesday. - Doug Farrow/contributor
Agriculture minister Don McRae announces funds to help orchardists replant, while in the Day orchard, amongst the young apple trees Wednesday.
— image credit: Doug Farrow/contributor

Growers willing to invest in re-planting their orchards to new varieties of more-marketable apples have the support of $2 million from the province over the next three years to help them with the cost.

Agriculture minister Don McRae was in Kelowna Thursday afternoon to make the announcement amongst the young apple trees on the Day orchard, flanked by all three local MLAs and Richmond-Steveston MLA John Yap.

While McRae admitted frankly that he didn’t even know what replant meant when he took on the post as agriculture minister, he said as a history teacher he realizes that orcharding is an important industry in the province’s heritage.

“Replanting would benefit the whole region,” he noted, and help the industry grow their markets across the country.

Westside-Kelowna MLA Ben Stewart said the industry is facing fiercer competition than ever before, and it needs to address that. This is a starting point for a new industry, he said.

It’s a commitment in the agriculture sector and should help the Okanagan maintain its reputation for growing great apples, added Okanagan Mission MLA Steve Thomson.

Although the assistance will help growers, Kirpal Boparai, a Kelowna orchardist and president of the B.C. Fruit Growers Association, was blunt about the importance of this three-year funding being continued beyond that time frame.

“We grow the best fruit in the world, particularly Ambrosia and Gala apples, thanks in part to Mother Nature,” he commented. He noted that the industry is not only important on its own, but also to the valley’s tourism industry.

He estimated it costs in the neighbourhood of $20,000 an acre for growers to replant to high-density apple trees, plus the farmer’s own labour, and this funding will only help with a portion of those costs.

A survey of growers completed this spring indicated orchardists are committed to stay in the industry if replant funding is available, so he said the industry really appreciates the support.

There has been a replant assistance program available for years, but it ended last year.

The program flows from the ministry’s Agrifoods Strategy and its goal to expand domestic markets through high-quality products by targeting premium varieties such as Ambrosia and red strains of Gala apples, said McRae.

The program includes a grafting and budding component which helps to get new trees into production faster.

It will be administered by the BCFGA, which also administered the previous program, in partnership with the Investment Agriculture Foundation.

Applications will be reviewed by a panel and will be more directed than the previous program, to ensure the best varieties are grown in the best locations.

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com

 

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

You might like ...

Surgical waits average five months in B.C.
 
Big White set for Nov. 29 opening
 
Central Okanagan Foundation to distribute unprecedented $2 million in grants
DeHart: New business combines spa and salon services
 
Low income earners face northwestern B.C. rental challenge
 
New museum director
What qualifies as essential services? : With the strike of the city of Castlegar’s workers already approaching three weeks, concerns over who is providing essential services,
 
Christmas at the Gallery
 
Red Cross needs volunteers

Community Events, November 2014

Add an Event


Read the latest eEdition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Nov 26 edition online now. Browse the archives.