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Byland family. On the wholesale side, they operate on more than 300 acres today, compared to the 12 acres on which the business started more than 50 years ago. (The adjacent retail nursery is operated by John’s wife, Maria.)

For fruit tree rootstocks, he says they generally purchase clonal rootstocks from the U.S. with desirable characteristics such as cold hardiness and disease resistance. They then root-prune them and line them out in fields, bud them in August and grow them for one year, to about six feet in height. Since no one is buying apples locally, he says the Eastern market has been their saviour this year. Planning ahead has been a real problem.

“We gambled on Nicola and were left with 15,000 trees,” he commented. “It’s like being left with Pointsettias on Boxing Day.” In July, he says they meet with industry to try and get a feel for what might be needed in the coming years, so they can hammer out a plan. The nursery likes to grow on order. Last year’s entire cherry stock was

custom orders, he noted. “Growers have to plan ahead rather

than expecting to get trees the same year they order,” Byland emphasized. It’s important to know two to four years ahead if replanting is in the cards, so nursery stock can be ordered. When replanting, growers must

also use care in the orchard to ensure trees get the best start, from fumigation to fertilization—and new trees must be watered in well. At the nursery, bare rootstock is carefully coated with a gel that helps keep the roots from drying out during transport to the orchard, while a sawdust mulch is used to keep those moved in bins moist. However, growers need to take precautions too, with ground preparation prior to stock arriving so it can be planted out right away. Byland’s uses Integrated Pest Management, but there are still instances where spraying is required for leafroller, for instance. Peach borer used to be a problem, but now they’re using mating disruption and have no problems at all, says Byland.

With growing plots scattered throughout the community, one of the biggest problems comes from neighbours who don’t look after their plants.

But, Byland explains, the operation has become really sophisticated now, in terms of knowing all about various bugs and diseases and their interactions, in order to be better at controlling infestations without resorting to the use of chemicals. Often spraying can get rid of the beneficial insects as well as the target ones, so it’s used as a last resort rather than the first choice. Byland remembers when there were nurseries in Kelowna and Oliver as well, but theirs is the only remaining fruit tree producer in Western Canada today. Military rows of potted plants serviced by drip irrigation march across acres of landscape at Byland’s, and specially-designed recapture ponds recycle excess water for re-use, conserving what is a scarce commodity in this near-desert climate.

Greenhouses line the alleyways in other parts of the operation,

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Plant Growth Regulator 12 British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Summer 2011

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