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Replanting funds “hugely beneficial” to B.C. apple growers

As British Columbian apple growers adjust to growing demand for new varieties, a major commitment of funds by the provincial government could be integral to the region’s orchards.

Announced in November of 2014 and enacted in April of this year, the funds total $8.4 million (CAN) and are intended to aid B.C. growers who wish to replant their orchards with new crops. For apple growers at BC Tree Fruits, a growing co-op headquartered in Kelowna, B.C., that money means big things. “It’s hugely beneficial for our grower base,” says Chris Pollock, the co-op’s media liaison.

New varieties trending up

Pollock says that for the co-op, which lists apples as its largest commodity, the funds will help growers move away from down-trending traditional varieties in favor of newer – and increasingly popular – apples.

“The apple category as a whole… is pretty stagnant, overall,” Pollock explains. “But you’re seeing higher movement in some of these newer varieties.” Pollock lists Ambrosia, Royal Gala, Honeycrisp, and Pink Lady apples as examples of up-trending varieties. Meanwhile, he says that his growers, “are seeing less movement on traditional varieties, like Golden Delicious and Red Delicious.”

Replanting “not a cheap endeavor”
Pollock stresses that while acres dedicated to traditional apple varieties will be more vulnerable to replanting, he expects that BC Tree Fruits growers will use the funds replace a diverse selection of poorly performing crops. “[A replaced variety] may be a variety that’s not growing to its full potential,” Pollock notes. Pollock says that overall, however, he expects the funds will help growers continue their shift to newer strains.

Calling replanting “a challenge,” Pollock asserts that the provincial funds will be a major help to his co-op’s growers. “It’s not a cheap endeavor to replant an orchard,” he says. On top of up front expenses, Pollock explains that it can take three to five years for newly planted trees to yield crops.

Long-term benefits

Pollock expects that B.C. orchard growers will take advantage of the new funds gradually. “It’s not going to be a huge change all at once,” he says. “A lot of it is the availability of trees.” As an example, Pollock says that Ambrosia trees are particularly hard to acquire right now.

Given the time new trees will take to mature, Pollock says that his co-op’s biggest challenge lays in predicting the market three to five years in advance. Pollock, however, remains confident that growers at BC Tree Fruits will seize the opportunity. “We’re expecting to see the benefits three to four years from now.”

For more information:
Chris Pollock
BC Tree Fruits
Tel: +1 250-470- 4213

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