Funding boost for fruit tree replant program

Growers willing to replant their orchards to more marketable apples will have $2 million to help with the cost.

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

B.C.’s Agriculture Minister Don McRae was in the Okanagan last Wednesday to make the announcement, standing among the young apple trees in Steve Day’s Kelowna orchard, flanked by all three local MLAs and Richmond-Steveston MLA John Yap.

While McRae admitted that he didn’t even know what replant meant when he took on his current cabinet post, 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, helping 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. The replant program is a starting point to meet that challenge, 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 in the past, but it ended last year.

The program flows from the ministry’s Agrifoods Strategy. Its goal is 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.

Just Posted

Casa Loma residents petition to halt proposed Blackmun Bay project

West Kelowna City Council grants second reading for what would be the city’s largest development

Lakestone Grand Opening set for this weekend in Lake Country

MP Stephen Fuhr, MLA Norm Letnick and Mayor James Baker will all speak at the event

West Kelowna RCMP search witnesses in assault

A man was attacked in the early morning on July 16

Kelowna ranks fifth in where Canadians will move to buy a home: study

‘The study suggests that the dream of homeownership is very much alive and well,’ said Finder’s editor

Small business spotlight: Kelowna’s master tailor

Sam Galvez started his business in Kelowna 6 years ago

VIDEO: B.C. MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first steps in nearly 30 years

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Science expedition to Canada’s largest underwater volcano departs Vancouver Island

Crews prepared for a two-week research mission to the Explorer Seamount

Summerland clinic will be closed on August long weekend

Medical office assistant needed at Rosedale Medical Clinic

Driver who killed Shuswap motorcyclist receives absolute discharge

Chase family speechless following decision by BC Review Board

B.C. shipyard to get one-third of $1.5 billion frigate-repair contract

The federal government has promised to invest $7.5 billion to maintain the 12 frigates

Anglican Church to review governance structure after same-sex marriage change fails

Some say the current system to change doctrine gives too much voting power to a smaller class of bishops

B.C. adding fast-charge stations for electric highway trips

Okanagan, Vancouver Island, Kootenay stations ready for use

Most Read