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speaking with old timers such as Doherty. A lifelong fruit farmer, Doherty


continued the family tradition started in the early years of the last century when his parents moved to an orchard in Summerland. “In the 1940s we used a sprayer pulled


by horses that is similar to the one John has restored. It was sold by Charlie Oliver, a former mayor of Penticton. He had a place, the Oliver Ranch, in Okanagan Falls,” Doherty said. He also recalled the slow difficult work


of walking beside the sprayer, holding the heavy nozzle and directing it by hand to the desired areas. An orchard worker would be expected


to hand-spray only an acre, perhaps two in a day. Doherty spoke of putting masks over


the horses’ noses and mouths to prevent them from eating the sprayed grass. He recalled that after the Second World War he used a gas mask to protect himself but stopped because it was too awkward. Sometimes protection, if used at all,


was as simple as a handkerchief over the mouth. By the late 1950s protective gear, including suitable masks, was more commonly used. Some farmers did experience


SUSAN MCIVER


Jim Doherty holds the same model of nozzle he donated to the antique sprayer project.


detrimental effects, even likely premature deaths, from pesticides according to Doherty. At a healthy 88 years of age, he is not


counted among them. Over-spraying and drift were always a


concern. “You had to keep a careful eye on wind direction,” Doherty said. Many birds were killed from


unintended contact with spray. “A lot of


chickens were ‘put to sleep’ by accident.” In 1929, James Marshall, a Canadian


graduate student at Washington State University, was impressed with the enormity of the spray residue problem, including in B.C. Marshall joined the Canadian


Department of Agriculture as a research scientist in entomology in 1938. In his 1989 paper, ‘Reflections of an


Orchard Entomologist’ (available at the Summerland Museum), Marshall recalled from his early years in British Columbia, “Scores of orchard workers had been troubled with spray poisoning resulting from the toxicity of arsenic and lead. Orchard soils were being seriously poisoned by heavy lead arsenate spray applications. We had to banish lead arsenate from the orchards” Marshall considered lead arsenate to


be the most insidious poison ever used for pest control. B.C. was the first jurisdiction in the world to end its use. In the late 1940s, Marshall and


colleagues developed the “drive by” air blast sprayer for spraying fruit trees. The labour-saving benefits and


superior performance of air blast sprayers led to their rapid and widespread adoption by orchardists.


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www.cbnllc.com British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Winter 2012-13 11


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