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Far beyond fruit trees

Serving the orchard industry was once a mainstay, but now is now just a small part of Byland’s diversified nursery operation.

By Judie Steeves M roots.

Growing fruit trees was a vital part of the business when Byland’s Nurseries was begun by Adrian Byland in 1954, and it’s still a component of today’s much more diversified operation, says his son John, president of the family-owned business in West Kelowna. However, where once it was a core part of the business during the 1950s, today it’s just one small part. Byland’s is a highly-diversified nursery operation, incorporating both wholesale and retail, growing shade trees, conifers, shrubs, annuals, perennials and fruit trees and employing 200 at the peak time of the year and 70 full-time. Byland admits candidly that growing fruit trees for the industry is barely even worth their while today, but he says he does believe it’s important that there be domestic capacity to service the industry. “We have to grow them on our best ground and we get our worst return from them,” he comments wryly. While growing fruit trees for commercial production once was half the company’s business, it dropped to 30 per cent and now is likely only about five per cent.

Nonetheless, Byland’s is probably one of the Okanagan Plant Improvement Company’s largest customers and they ship fruit trees all across the country, one of only a couple of producers remaining in Canada.

For Byland’s, fruit tree production British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Summer 2011 11

embers of the Byland family haven’t forgotten the importance of their

favourite, today it’s cherry trees and there is lots of interest now in grapes, which are grown from cuttings. Some experiments have been done with grafting, but there is a staggering number of rootstocks, notes Byland.

Miles of land is required to grow them—and in B.C., land is expensive. Although he admits the grape industry would like to have a domestic producer, many rootstocks are now brought in from the U.S.

The nursery is

rooting about 30,000 grape cuttings this spring in a greenhouse with a heated floor to get the bottom heat required to encourage them to start growing roots.


John Byland with a grape cutting rooted out on the heated floor in a greenhouse.

probably peaked about five years ago with 200,000 trees being grown in a year. Today it’s at a plateau, with about 130,000 grown annually. Where apple trees used to be the

They grow 20,000 to 30,000 cherry trees a year, and have a large order from a North Okanagan grower.

Sentennials are popular as are Staccatos, and there is still demand for Lapins, noted Byland. They’re grown in fields all over West Kelowna, leased or owned by the

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