Day’s Century Growers Inc. at Kelowna is one of the oldest and biggest pear producers in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley.
Kevin Day operates Day’s Century Growers and Byrns Farm, Ltd. with his father Ernie Day and sister Karen and her husband Rodger Chisholm.
Members of the International Fruit Tree Association, who visited the farm during their annual conference in February, learned that Kevin’s great-grandfather established the farm in 1897. In the early 1900s, the farm was owned by someone outside the family for three years before being bought back by Kevin’s great uncle after he returned from World War I.
The farm, which is now home to the third, fourth, and fifth generations of the Day family, produces Bartlett, Bosc, and Anjou pears, along with vegetables sold at the farm gate.
Pears were first planted at the farm in 1940 on 20- by 20-foot spacing. A second planting of Bartlett and d’Anjou pears on Old Home by Farmingdale 87 rootstocks, which went in the ground in 1957, is still producing large crops of quality fruit today. The family has continued to plant pears over the years at increasingly high densities and now has almost 35 acres.
In 2013, he planted a five-acre block of d’Anjou, Bartlett, and Bosc on a 7- by 16-foot spacing. The trees trained to the central leader system and pruned as little as possible in order to promote fruiting.
In 2012, the family built a packing house with a 10-station packing line specially designed to handle the fruit gently. They produce 40,000 cases annually, which they sell in Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, and through local stores.