High Quality Apples in the Okanagan Valley?

Yesterday I showed you how the lack of art in farming, and the lack of memory, is rendering the land not only valueless but turning it into debt. Today, I’ll show you a modern orchard. These are Nicola apples on Malling 9 roots, grown on a slender spindle system of some 2200 trees per acre, to produce, at most, 10 pounds of very large apples per tree. A dozen apples, let’s say.P1010725

I showed you yesterday as well a government press release which talked about taking “low value” apples out of production. To be clear, we’re talking about trees that in the 1970s produced up to 800 pounds per tree, or maybe 2400 apples. Those are long gone, but the ones that replaced them, which produced half that volume, are now the “low value” ones being torn out:


To be clear, these are MacIntosh apples, a Canadian classic. The apples are great. The low value is in their inability to withstand industrial packing, storage and marketing without looking like bruise and tasting like mush. Still, people are lining up for food banks, so, really, the apples are of high value. It’s just that they can’t be capitalized very well, which means that in a capitalist monopoly they have no capacity to transform capital into profit, and without that, well, it doesn’t work. This doesn’t work either, though:


That’s the “orchard” I showed you yesterday, from the south east side. Here you can see rows of trees that were grafted too late last year being grafted again, the slow expensive way, because the first grafts were done at the wrong time, out of ignorance. The weeds are magnificent.P1010841

Here’s a closer view:

P1010836 What a mess. Here’s a closer view:

These look like very pricey Ambrosia grafts. I’m going to presume that they are replacements for the failed ones from last year, at the government’s cost. What you’re looking at is a short stick (3 buds long), cut at an angle and laid onto the growing layer of the rootstock (ridiculously crooked, which is going to create many problems in the future), which has also been bared with a side cut, bound with tape and painted with latex. The buds on the grafts are starting to push (grow). It looks like the cuts were mechanically made. This is not the standard way of doing grafts like this, at any rate, and not the one with the most contact, which would lead to the most growth, but it’s the easiest. No training required.

One downside is that poor unions lead to poor trees, especially on these Malling 9 rootstocks, which are extremely dwarfing, in part because they make poor unions at the best of times. A poor union means poor sap flow. On a variety like Ambrosia, with its tendency to produce fruit towers rather than growing trees, this is likely to be a problem, plus these aren’t going to produce the “high quality” apples the government invested in.graft

A country that can’t feed itself is a country that grows only the most expensive food, for those who can pay more than the going rate. They will be coming out, I promise, on land so expensive that the pressure to grow houses on it instead of food is only going to increase, so, really, ideological abuse like this hurts our children. I hate that.

6 replies »

      • Might even be a deliberate strategy to ensure failure so one can plant houses… I think of that when I see “failing” farmland that could successfully support a different kind of agriculture. I tend to believe that there is no such thing as “unproductive land”. I think the land deserves to just be itself, too… It isn’t just all about us.

        Probably too many thoughts here…


      • Yes, that happens a lot. Most of Kelowna, for example, is marginalized in this way , at the very least through blunt ignorance. In this case, no. In this case, sloppy decisions were made, possibly on bad advice by people who also didn’t know. That’s a social problem. And a land problem. Probably too many thoughts here, too!


    • wouldn’t that be nice

      my experience is that people in positions of authority in this culture are secure in their elite positions.


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