Rainier Fruit Company Announces Participation in National Pollinator Conservation Initiative
SELAH, WA - A buzzing initiative taking the industry by storm is the pollination conservation effort that is underway on Eastern and Central Washington properties by Rainier Fruit Company. To diversify the habitat and food resources available for bees and other helpful insects, the company is pushing forward with its project that lessens the loss of habitats for native bee species.
“As fruit growers, we depend on pollinators. Enhancing the natural habitat available to native bees and honey bees is a win-win,” Mark Zirkle, President, shared. “These projects will offer forage and nesting resources for bees and increase bee diversity and abundance. We may even see supplemental pollination services for our crops through the impact of these initiatives.”
Rainier Fruit’s efforts are part of a bigger whole, which is known as the General Mills Pollinator Initiative and aims to increase on-farm natural habitat to support native and honey bee populations while also reducing pesticide impacts on bees through reduced applications, improved practices, and the use of biocontrol as pest management, according to a press release.
Rainier Fruit is focusing on its efforts for this initiative to become a leader in conservation practices, as it furthers its existing programs and current best practices.
General Mills has teamed up with Tree Top Growers coop, of which Rainier Fruit is a member, and the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation for its Pollinator Conservation Initiative, and it will be giving funding for native seeds, plant materials, and the time of conservation experts from the Xerces Society—who will be planners and consultants throughout the initiative. As a member of Tree Top Growers’ coop, Rainier Fruit will participate and contribute the labor involved in site preparation, planting, installation, and maintenance. Because the project will be such a massive undertaking, the Xerces Society will also be funding the initiative to ensure its success, as well as offering a three-year plan to improve pollinator resources on several Rainier Fruit properties.
Rainier Fruit will be using both wildflowers and hedgegrow plantings of flowering perennial shrubs. Wildflowers will be plug-planted along the edges of the orchards this fall at the first sites. Wildflowers, the press release expresses, support a plethora of pollinating species, and the planting processes is expected to yield blooming plants more quickly than planting from seed. The hedgegrow plantings will be established alongside irrigation ditches and create a meadow near the irrigation pond nearby. The meadow will grow native, low-growing annual and perennial wildflowers, which will be a great resource for bees. Further, the company will also be drill-seeding wildflowers into natural areas where annual grasses are currently growing to diversify the habitat.
“A lot of work goes into preparing these sites so we can ensure the longevity of these projects,” Andy Tudor, VP of Business Development, explained. “We are waiting until the fall of 2019 to plant some of the areas, so we can make sure that each site is adequately prepared, and the wildflower plantings won’t be under heavy weed pressure. We’re also planning accordingly, so we can minimize or eliminate pesticide use once the pollinator habitats have been planted.”
One small—no, one MAJOR step for Rainier Fruit Company; many massive steps for all of us in the industry and everyone who enjoys the fruits it provides.