What's going on with the orchard that was just taken out near the entrance to Jacksonville? What are the plans? New orchard? Vineyard? More houses?
— Shane B., via email
From what our moles at Since You Asked global headquarters have ferreted out, the best guess is "none of the above."
There are new pear plantings and replantings in other parts of the Rogue Valley, but it may be a while before the Nevada-shaped parcel on the northeast edge of Jacksonville sees more pears.
There's no rumor of vineyards, and houses aren't in the works.
The Culbertson Family sold the erstwhile Bybee Orchard to Grants Pass doctor David F. Young in 2002. Up until 2005, Associated Fruit leased the Golden Russet Bosc orchards.
David Sugar, of the Oregon State University Extension Center, said Young had the aging trees pulled out, but he isn't sure what will come next.
The last orchardist to work the block, Gary Hubler, said the 42-acre orchard was infested with pear psylla.
"The trees were very, very old," he said.
Hubler said he heard someone wanted to grow wheat on the property, but the trees remain on the ground.
Maud Powell, OSU Extension agent for small-farms programs, said there has been an uptick in wheat growing, but she hasn't heard about anyone planting wheat along the stretch where Highway 238 enters Jacksonville.
"The biggest issues would involve infrastructure, having the right equipment scaled for combining and threshing, and storing it, because wheat is not that difficult. It can be grown in the winter with minimal irrigation, it's just a matter of processing it."
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