Good Fruit Grower

April 15

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10 APRIL 15, 2014 GOOD FRUIT GROWER AXXE is a broad spectrum herbicide that is formulated to deliver maximum performance and provide fast-acting results on a long list of weeds and grasses. AXXE is an innovative herbicidal soap product comprised of a form of ammoniated pelargonic salts. These salts penetrate the cell walls of plants, disrupting the cellular functions of the targeted weeds and killing them within hours of application. Your weeds don't stand a chance against AXXE. Simply Sustainable. Always Effective. CAN YOU FEEL THE BURN? ® LLC 1.888.273.3088 | BROAD SPECTRUM HERBICIDE pushed up land values. If you could find land for expansion, you're looking at a price tag of anywhere from Can.$30,000 to $100,000 per acre, depending on the location and, above all, the view. "Land is not priced for agriculture, it's priced for people wanting to live here, so there's no way that someone can buy and orchard and make a return on their investment year by year," Kidston said. They can earn an annual income, but they won't get their investment back until they sell the property. Apple growers have suffered through some marginally profitable years (often attributed to the might of their coun- terparts to the south). As apples have been removed, wine grapes and cherries have been planted. The province now has 9,000 acres of wine grapes—putting grapes ahead of apples—and 3,400 acres of cherries. Steve Brown, horticulturist with B.C. Tree Fruits Cooperative, said those retirees moving into the area often come with plenty of capital and a romanticized notion of running a winery. "That's been a huge driver, and that's driven the cost of land up considerably," he said. To some growers, cherries have looked like a better bet financially than apples—at least on paper. Brown said when he meets with a grower who is thinking of replanting and wondering what to replant with, he lays all the numbers out on the table. "When they see the apple numbers, their eyes become as big as saucers because of the cost." A super-spindle orchard is expensive to plant because of the large number of trees and infrastructure needed, such as the trellis and irrigation systems. Many growers say they can't afford that kind of capital investment. But when they think about cherries, which might be planted with as few as 240 trees per acre with much less labor, they often fail to factor in the costs of controlling fruit fly infestations, inade- quate fruit size because of weather con- ditions, or losing a crop to rain during harvest, Brown said. Mentor When Kidston retired three years ago, no one in his immediate family was inter- ested in taking over. The orchard was in three parcels, which he sold to three different buyers. One owner, a dentist, built a house on a small section that has a commanding view of Kalamalka Lake, while the others weren't ready to build yet. All three were wondering what to do with the rest of the orchard in the meantime and agreed to lease it to Jo Bagha, who had worked for Kidston for about 15 years, and his 26-year-old son Rajan, who had been working as a carpenter. Kidston said he's mentoring the Baghas, just as his father mentored him when he came back to the orchard. Kidston had worked in the orchard when he was young but never pruned because he was at school during the winter. "That was the one thing I didn't know, was pruning," said Kidston, who came to real- ize that pruning is an art. "I enjoy pruning because you're training the tree and setting it up to make it crop, and looking after it, and every tree is a little bit different," he said. During an the IFTA tour stop at the orchard in February, Kidston and Dr. Terence Robinson, horticulturist at Cornell University, New York, got into a lively debate about pruning techniques. Kidston welcomed it. "He's pointed," he said of Robinson, "but a lot of what he says is to make you think." • Cornell University horticulturist Terence Robinson (right) shares his pruning philosophies with British Columbia orchard operator Rajan Bagha (next to him) and members of the IFTA. PHOTO BY GERALDINE WARNER

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