The Okanagan’s tree fruit industry is harvesting some provincial support.
The government’s seven-year tree fruit replant program will now assist even more growers with an additional $1 million in funding over the duration of the program.
“The replant program is critical to the renewal and growth of our industry, especially for cherry and apple production and the popularity of the program has caught everyone by surprise,” said Fred Steele, B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association president.
“The new funding announced today will help accelerate renewal and this is very positive news for growers.”
For the 2016/17 season, it is estimated that $300,000 of the new funding will be available and this will assist more than 24 additional projects with 122 additional acres being replanted.
In total, the government’s tree fruit replant program is committing $9.4 million that will see at least 1,600 acres replanted by 2021, providing more than 2,600 jobs each year for the Okanagan.
The application intake for the 2016/17 season was oversubscribed and has now closed. The new funding applications for the 2017/18 season will be available on the Ministry of Agriculture website this fall.
“We heard loud and clear from growers that the replant program is a huge success for replanting low-value orchards with high-demand varieties like ambrosia and honeycrisp apples and late-season cherries,” said Dan Ashton, MLA for Penticton.
B.C. growers produced Canada’s second largest tree fruit crop in 2014, including more than 126,000 tonnes of apples, sweet cherries, peaches, pears, plums, prunes, nectarines and apricots.
There are nearly 6,000 tree fruit orchards in B.C., with the majority located in the Okanagan.