Good Fruit Grower

September 2016

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Page 20 of 55 Good Fruit Grower SEPTEMBER 2016 21 River Valley between Leavenworth and Cashmere, where roughly 85 percent of the Wenatchee district's pears are grown, prevents him from narrowing his rows any more. Planting trees close together forces them to compete for nutrients, water and sunlight, holding back vigor and prompting more fruit. To even out sun exposure to the entire tree, he trains limbs by tying the tops together, creating a shaded archway over each alley. "Any sunlight that hits the ground is wasted sunlight," he said. The leaders wind up being about the same angle as his orchard ladders come harvest time. They might even lend themselves to platforms or other mechanical equip- ment if he chooses to try it. He's hoping for a platform with tracks, again because his hills might be too steep for conventional wheels. He tried trellising in the past but abandoned it. Pear trees have deep and strong enough roots on their own, especially in his clumpy soil. One tree gets pulled left, the other right. He tried planting at angles but snow crushed his baby trees. At 1,700 feet in the Cascades, Leavenworth averages 22 inches a year. "We do a lot of things up here differently because of snow," he said. He ran a test not too long ago, pruning his new orchard systems twice as fast as his traditional trees, some 50 years old. He estimates his newer blocks cut his costs by $50 per bin. Most of his employees live year-round at the farm, though he does hire some seasonal harvesters. He grows only pears on his 75-acre orchard now, two- thirds of them organic, and delivers to Peshastin Hi-Up, a few miles down the valley. He's removed all his apples, which thrive on the flatlands of the Columbia Basin where pears can't. He's happy with his conversions and innovation, dis- cussing them openly at winter workshops. But he warned other growers to think hard before they try it. "High density is not for everybody," he said. Growers must commit to many changes in habits and equipment and be willing to do it over a large area to see any results. "You got to have a different mindset," he said. • A Red d'Anjou pear ripens in a make-shift fruiting wall created by Prey's training system that will eventually lend itself to mechanization, he said. At left, Prey uses only twine to stretch his pear canopies into an archway to maximize sun exposure. He gave up on trellises a few years ago, reasoning that pear trees have strong enough roots to stand on their own. REPEL. PROTECT. GROW. 888-332-2328 1-YEAR UNCONDITIONAL MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE "Bird Gard is the best bird control I have ever experienced! anks to Bird Gard I now have lots of used netting for sale, cheap." Joe Irick, Vice President, Independent Grape Growers - Paso Robles Area Owner, Rising Moon Vineyards Paso Robles, CA Bird Gard eliminates bird damage from large and small vineyards for a one-time cost of around $200 per acre. Grow your harvest with Bird Gard

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