Yuba County peach farmer is feeling optimistic about the baby cling peach trees planted this June — a trial in conservation of labor and orchard space.
Sam Nevis, of Butte Basin Management Co., said his firm had pushed out an existing peach orchard and was looking for a replacement variety, but struggled to find a suitable one.
Last summer, Agromillora, a Spanish farming company with an outlet in Gridley, pitched the idea of growing dwarfing peach trees on dwarfing rootstock, which doesn't allow the trees to get very big. Nevis said the company was seeking farmers to experiment with the combination.
"They were going through similar issues that we were having here in California," Nevis said.
Butte Basin considered the process, with the goal of hand-harvesting canning peaches without the use of a ladder.
"And it would give us the opportunity to greatly reduce our labor expense, while not impeding or hindering yields or quality," Nevis said.
After working with Agromillora for about a year, 6,700 trees went into a 10-acre plot for the trial. A trellis system was installed, with a wire about 24 inches above the ground.
"We're planting it as if it were a vineyard," Nevis said.
What's being tried in Yuba County isn't necessarily groundbreaking. Nevis said fresh market peach farmers have been trying out similar techniques for years, but that it's relatively new for the local canning peach industry. Still, past attempts on canning peaches proved somewhat unsuccessful, he said.
"This is just another attempt to try a new type of hybrid dwarfing rootstock to see if we can achieve what we need to achieve," Nevis said.