QUINCY, Wash. — It looks like a white sea off Whitetrail Road, southeast of Quincy.
As you get closer you see heads and shoulders of a few workers. Even closer you see they are tending young fruit trees next to white stakes.
It’s the home 60-acre operation of Helios Nursery of Quincy which also grows trees on another 100 acres near Othello and rootstock in greenhouses in McMinnville, Ore.
The workers are tying and adjusting stake ties of apple and cherry trees budded to rootstock last year and now growing for digging this fall and winter storage before shipment to orchards next spring.
The stakes help the Premier Honeycrisp, Wildfire Gala, Aztec Fuji and several varieties of red cherries grow straight and serve as support in wind.
There are other nurseries in the area but what makes this one stand out is the white, fiberglass stakes. The others have bamboo or steel.
“We went to fiberglass because the quality of the bamboo from China over the last 10 years keeps going down, down, down,” said Tye Fleming, Helios owner.
Helios produces more than 1 million trees annually so it needs more than 1 million stakes. Bamboo stakes cost $70,000 per million and once lasted two years. But the bamboo is being cut younger and greener and newer Geneva rootstock is requiring more moisture so bamboo stakes are only lasting a year, Fleming said.
Fiberglass stakes cost substantially more but are suppose to last 15 years, so Fleming figures they will pay for themselves in three to five years.
Cameron Nursery in Eltopia, between Othello and Pasco, uses fiberglass stakes and they’ve been used in Willamette Valley ornamental nurseries for years, Fleming said.
Field work has been delayed more than a month this spring by snow and rain causing ground to be too wet to work, he said.
“But we’ll start planting this week and it all evens out,” he said.