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Cost-share grants are available to growers in north central Washington State for disposing of their annual pruning by means other than burning.

The Washington State Department of Ecology has $27,800 available to share among growers in Okanogan, Chelan, and Douglas Counties. The money was originally intended for a program to encourage growers to chip removed orchards, rather than burn them, but Dan McCarthy, fieldman for the Okanogan County Pest and Disease Board, said chipping did not prove economically feasible, and the firms that were doing it are no longer in the business.

Under the new program, growers can receive up to $15 per acre for mowing or flailing their prunings, rather than burning them, up to a maximum of 25 acres per grower. The funds will be distributed on a first-come-first-served basis after pruning and mowing has been completed. The grant will be offered until June 30 this year. The trees must be at least eight years old.

McCarthy acknowledged it’s not a large amount. “But it will buy a new set of mower blades or put diesel in the tractor,” he said. “It’s not a big thing, but every little thing helps.”

The program is administered by the county pest boards. McCarthy said growers need to fill out a one-page form, which should take about five minutes.

Okanogan County growers should contact McCarthy at (509) 322-1286. In Chelan and Douglas counties, contact Marlane Gurnard at (509) 667-6677.