Almost everyone agrees: The Red Delicious is a crime against the apple. The fruit makes for a joyless snack, despite the false promise of its name, with a bitter skin that gives way to crumbling, mealy flesh. Maybe that’s why the New York Apple Association suggests people use their Red Delicious in holiday wreaths and centerpieces.Though it’s no longer the most popular apple in America—since its heyday in the 1980s, it’s been overtaken by newer, tastier varieties—the Delicious remains the most heavily produced apple in the United States. Which means that, even though we’ve long since caught on, you can still find the red scourge everywhere.This raises some important questions. Why do we keep growing 2.7 billion pounds of Red Delicious apples every year? And are growers still excited by the Delicious or are they stuck between a declining market and an orchard they can’t afford to tear up? For the full story, CLICK HERE.
Fredericton, N.B. - Dr. Claudia Goyer, a molecular bacteriologist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Fredericton Research and Development Centre in New Brunswick, says she is seeing promising results that may help potato growers get more of their products into the global marketplace.Common scab is a potato disease caused by bacteria in the soil and while it is not a health issue for humans, common scab’s crusty lesions on potato skin can make potatoes unmarketable. The allowable limit for the appearance of potato scab on a potato is five per cent.Building on research done in Australia, Dr. Goyer has been working with Canadian tissue culture expert Dr. Vicki Gustafson to develop natural variations of Shepody and Red Pontiac varieties with greater scab resistance.In the lab, the researchers bathed potato tissue samples in a plant toxin secreted by the microorganism that causes common scab. As expected, the toxin killed many of the tissue samples.Among the survivors, they looked for samples that evolved with a resistance to the toxin, and hopefully to the microorganism that produces it.“We’re tapping into a plant’s natural ability to spontaneously change or mutate in response to stress,” says Dr. Goyer.From the surviving tissue samples, 50 were selected for field testing and ten of those have shown improved resistance.The Red Pontiac offshoots have been particularly promising, with 50 per cent less incidence of common scab than in current Red Pontiac variety. Researchers have been seeing up to 30 per cent less common scab in the Shepody offshoots.Dr. Goyer is encouraged by the results, but says the evaluations will need to continue for another two to three years before the new, more resistant offshoots of the Shepody and Red Pontiac can be brought to the market.
For the first time, scientists have improved how a crop uses water by 25 per cent without compromising yield by altering the expression of one gene that is found in all plants, as reported in Nature Communications.The international team increased the levels of a photosynthetic protein (PsbS) to conserve water by tricking plants into partially closing their stomata, the microscopic pores in the leaf that allow water to escape. Stomata are the gatekeepers to plants: When open, carbon dioxide enters the plant to fuel photosynthesis, but water is allowed to escape through the process of transpiration. | READ MORE
Ontario consumers are thirsty for more hard apple cider, and the province’s apple sector is poised to deliver. But first, researchers are profiling consumer preference to be sure the industry serves up cider that hits the spot.The project developed in response to research needs identified in the 2016 Cider Research and Innovation Strategy is a partnership with the Ontario Craft Cider Association and the Ontario Apple Growers. The strategy aims to see seven million litres of Ontario craft cider come to market by 2020.“Our work is about developing a better understanding of who the cider consumer is, and the sensory, flavour and taste profiles they’re looking for in a cider,” says Amy Bowen, research director, Consumer Insights at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland).Bowen used Vineland’s trained sensory panel to develop a lexicon of 22 sensory attributes to describe taste, aroma, flavour, mouthfeel and colour of hard apple ciders. The same panel then applied those attributes to 50 cider brands currently available to consumers through the LCBO and Ontario cideries.Next, 228 cider-drinking consumers rated their liking for a subset of those 50 ciders, and described each one using a provided list of terms. They also completed a questionnaire about consumption and purchase habits.“We identified two main segments of consumers, one that was driven by sweet, fruit-forward flavour profiles, and another panel that was driven by less sweet, balanced, and more complex flavours,” Bowen says.She notes there are significant differences in flavour and ingredients in domestic and imported ciders available to consumers through the LCBO.Craft ciders are made from 100 per cent Ontario apples, while others are made in Canada using apple concentrate, and some imported ciders contain little fruit juice at all (less than 20 per cent).Interestingly, two of three top-rated ciders tasted by study participants are not among the top five-selling cider brands at the LCBO.“We want to develop ciders using 100 per cent Ontario apples that meet a sensory profile that consumers respond to,” she says. “If someone is looking for an apple cider, and they want a dry one or a sweet one, understanding those profiles allows us to be flexible in using mixes of apples that are well adapted to our industry.”But if the industry is going to meet its growth targets, an additional 16,000 tonnes of apples – or 1.45 million trees – will be required. Work is underway to determine which apple varieties meet the climate, yield and taste profiles ideal to growing the cider industry.“We need to think strategically,” Bowen says. “It’s a big, long-term investment to put an apple orchard in the ground. There’s a huge opportunity to look at how the apple variety mix aligns and meets the needs of this growing industry, to keep it profitable and flavourful.”This project was funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.
Move over, blueberries. A new University of Victoria study suggests the tiny fruit of a wild shrub that grows abundantly in B.C. is a contender for the healthiest berry on the planet.UVic biologist Peter Constabel's research found that berries of the salal plant beat blueberries hands-down for two key compounds associated with health benefits. The study is published this month in the international journal of plant chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular biology, Phytochemistry. | READ MORE
A University of Maryland researcher has traced the origin of pest populations of the Colorado potato beetle back to the Plains states, dispelling theories that the beetle came from Mexican or other divergent populations. Little was previously known about the beetle's origin as a pest, particularly how it developed the ability to consume potatoes and decimate entire fields so quickly. With its unique ability to adapt to pesticides almost faster than the industry can keep up, this beetle is consistently an issue for potato farmers. Using investigative evolutionary biology to determine the origins of this beetle and understand the pest's genetic makeup better, industry can better target pest management strategies to combat pesticide resistance and ultimately improve the potato industry.The United States is the fourth largest producer of potatoes worldwide, producing over 20 million tons of potatoes each year. By comparing the genetics of pre-agriculture potato beetles, before the pest began to consume potatoes, to post-agriculture potato beetles, Dr. David Hawthorne of the Entomology Department and his team hope to understand why and how the beetle is developing resistance so quickly, and what can be done to slow resistance. "The Colorado potato beetle is almost always one of the first insects to develop resistance to any pesticide. In fact, many contribute the entire pesticide arms race and development of pesticides to this particular beetle, which can destroy entire fields very easily," says Hawthorne."With this study," explains Hawthorne, "we were trying to gain insight into two major questions: Where did the potato beetle come from? And why do they evolve resistance so quickly? This would have major implications in controlling the pest, since the more growers have to spray, the greater their costs and risk to the surrounding environment. We need a strategy to weigh our options and determine the best way to control these pests without overspraying or even torching entire fields overrun with beetles, which has happened in the past when there has been no effective pesticide options."Hawthorne and his team found that populations of beetles eating potatoes are most closely related to nightshade eaters in the Plains states. Beetles from Mexico, a possible source of the pest populations, were far too distantly related to have been the source of this beetles. "Before they became pests, the plains beetles first evolved a taste for potatoes," says Hawthorne. "Some non-pest populations still don't eat them and will prefer the weeds surrounding the potatoes, but not the potatoes themselves. This is just one way that populations may differ." By understanding the distinctions between these populations and which beetles are the source of current pest populations, more targeted pest management strategies can be developed based on the specific genetic makeup of the beetles, leading to more effective and less spraying.Hawthorne describes this work as almost forensic biology, tracking the evolution and movement of this beetle across time and geography. "I like that this work is very interdisciplinary," says Dr. Hawthorne. "It is about taking all the puzzle pieces and trying to put the whole story together to have the biggest impact on the field. Ultimately, this work is a major step towards understanding one of the most harmful pests, and has significant implications in controlling the population, keeping the potato industry stable, and fighting pesticide resistance and overspraying."Dr. Hawthorne's study was published in The Journal of Economic Entomology.
Are you a strawberry grower or interested in strawberry production and would like to connect with other producers? Alberta Agriculture and Forestry is hosting a Strawberry Production Q&A Session on March 13, 2018 at the Agriculture Building, 5030 - 50 Street in Lacombe, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.This interactive question and answer session provides new and existing strawberry producers an opportunity to ask questions and discuss production challenges.Each half-hour session will cover topics picked by the attendees. "We're going to tackle seven to eight different topics about production," says Robert Spencer, commercial horticultural specialist at the Ag-Info Centre.Some of the topics to be discussed include varieties, establishment practices, overwintering, fertility management, pest management, renovation, and bearing season management."But there could be other topics," adds Spencer. "If someone has a very specific concern or they're saying that they're really struggling with a particular area, we'll talk about that, and we'll draw on the collective wisdom of the group."The Strawberry Production Q&A Session is free, but space is limited. Register by calling the Ag-Info Centre at 1-800-387-6030. Bring your own bag lunch.
March 5, 2018, Ithaca, NY – Stressed-out yeast is a big problem, at least for winemakers. The single-celled organism responsible for turning sugars into alcohol experiences stress, which changes its performance during fermentation. For vintners, stressed yeast introduces difficult production dilemmas that can change the efficiency and even flavour during winemaking. Patrick Gibney, assistant professor in the department of food science at Cornell University, is on a mission to help New York state wineries. Gibney is working out how metabolic pathways within a yeast cell determine those changes, with implications for how wine is produced. “Yeast has many significant, perhaps underappreciated, impacts on the public,” said Gibney. “It is critical for producing beer, wine and cider. Yeast is also a common food ingredient additive and is used to produce vaccines and other compounds in the biotech industry. This tiny organism has an enormous impact on human life.” Yeast has a long history as a model to understand the inner workings of eukaryote cell biology. Gibney, who has been researching yeast for the last 15 years, is interested in factors that affect whether cells become more resistant to stress. “In other industries, product uniformity is prized, but for winemakers, the year-to-year variations are often more valuable,” Gibney said. “There are dozens of fungi and bacteria that could all make the process go very wrong – or they might add combinations of flavors or odors that are really good. It’s very complex.” Gibney is collaborating with E&J Gallo Winery scientists and research teams as he applies his expertise in yeast biology to improve production across the wine industry. In the summer of 2017, the company invited Gibney to meet people involved with wine production from different perspectives: microbiology, quality control, systems biology, and chemistry. Those conversations are already reaping benefits, as Gibney has outlined several major projects for which he and Gallo scientists are crafting research plans. One project would tackle sluggish fermentations. “Sometimes you’re fermenting and it slows or stops completely. It’s often a microbiology problem,” Gibney said. He plans to gather samples from New York state wineries that have had this issue and inspect them at their most basic levels. For Gibney, the research is an opportunity to benefit the wine industry in New York and beyond. “It’s exciting to contribute to the scientific research already coming from CALS and help make advances that will help winemakers innovate with their products,” he said.
March 5, 2018, Adelaide, Australia – University of Adelaide researchers have discovered how grapes “breathe”, and that shortage of oxygen leads to cell death in the grape. The discovery raises many questions about the potentially significant impacts on grape and wine quality and flavour and vine management, and may lead to new ways of selecting varieties for warming climates. “In 2008 we discovered the phenomenon of cell death in grapes, which can be implicated where there are problems with ripening. We’ve since been trying to establish what causes cell death,” says Professor Steve Tyerman, chair of viticulture at the University of Adelaide’s Waite campus. “Although there were hints that oxygen was involved, until now we’ve not known of the role of oxygen and how it enters the berry.” Professor Tyerman and PhD student Zeyu Xiao from the university’s Australian Research Council (ARC) Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production have identified that during ripening, grapes suffer internal oxygen shortage. The research was in collaboration with Dr Victor Sadras, South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), and Dr Suzy Rogiers, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Wagga Wagga. Published in the Journal of Experimental Botany, the researchers describe how grape berries suffer internal oxygen shortage during ripening. With the use of a miniature oxygen measuring probe – the first time this has been done in grapes – they compared oxygen profiles across the flesh inside grapes of Chardonnay, Shiraz and Ruby Seedless table grape. They found that the level of oxygen shortage closely correlated with cell death within the grapes. Respiration measurements indicated that this would be made worse by high temperatures during ripening – expected to happen more frequently with global warming. "By manipulating oxygen supply we discovered that small pores on the surface of the berry stem were vital for oxygen supply, and if they were blocked this caused increased cell death within the berry of Chardonnay, essentially suffocating the berry. We also used micro X-ray computed tomography (CT) to show that air canals connect the inside of the berry with the small pores on the berry stem,” says Mr Xiao. "Shiraz has a much smaller area of these oxygen pores on the berry stem which probably accounts for its greater sensitivity to temperature and higher degree of cell death within the berry.”  Professor Vladimir Jiranek, director of the University of Adelaide’s ARC Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production, says: “This breakthrough on how grapes breathe will provide the basis for further research into berry quality and cultivar selection for adapting viticulture to a warming climate.” The study was supported by the Australian Industrial Transformation Research Program with support from Wine Australia and industry partners.
February 27, 2018, Charlottetown, PEI – The 2018 edition of the International Potato Technology Expo welcomed professionals from across North America back to the Eastlink Centre. The top industry event took Charlottetown by storm with an impressive display of equipment and products, alongside a sold-out educational conference. More than 3,300 attendees walked the show floor to check out diverse exhibits from local, regional, national, and international companies. Potato growers, together with the leading manufacturers of equipment and product solutions from across the Maritimes and beyond were in attendance. Dozens of exhibitors at the show debuted cutting-edge and innovative products including new potato varieties, the latest models of equipment, innovative growing technology, and more. “The crowd was very steady and exhibitors were happy with the turnout,” said Mark Cusack, show manager. “We saw professionals of all backgrounds come out to the event – from lifelong growers to children and families of the industry. Comments on the conference were very positive as well. Everything came together at the right time.” The full educational conference program saw huge success on both days of the show. During some sessions, listeners lined the room with seats completely filled to hear experts speak on informative, relevant topics. Sponsors of the event included Prince Edward Island Agriculture and Fisheries, Sygenta, and Farm Credit Canada. The International Potato Technology Expo takes place biennially in Charlottetown. The next edition will occur in 2020.
February 26, 2018, Charlottetown, PEI – Since the International Potato Technology Expo launched in 2000, Glen MacLean, a 700-acre seed potato farmer in O’Leary, hasn’t missed a show. Mark Cusack, the event’s national show manager, said the expo is held every two years in Charlottetown. He estimates the event will have about 5,000 visitors and 130 exhibitors over the two days. READ MORE
February 20, 2018, East Lansing, MI – This article provides a brief summary of some of the research being produced by some of the institutions participating in a project titled “Management of Brown Marmorated Stink Bug in U.S. Specialty Crops” funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). It is not a detailed summary of all the work being conducted within this project, but provides highlights from areas of the project that may be of interest to growers. Researchers continue to track the movement and abundance of brown marmorated stink bugs. The largest populations and the most widespread damage to tree fruits is in the Mid-Atlantic region. In Michigan, we have seen brown marmorated stink bug numbers slowly build and currently the majority of the population is found in the southern third of the state with the highest numbers in the southern two tiers of counties. Damaging levels of brown marmorated stink bug do occur in localized areas north of this area and have produced fruit injury on individual farms north of Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the Ridge area. The information required to detect the movement and relative numbers comes from trapping. A great deal of effort has gone into finding the most effective trap and lure. A variety of trap styles exist, but the pyramid trap baited with an attractant lure has been the standard way to detect brown marmorated stink bugs. Lures continue to be improved and the current standard is a two-part lure comprised of an aggregation pheromone and an attractant from a related stink bug. A side-by-side comparison of the pyramid trap with an easier to use clear sticky trap on a 4-foot wooden stake using the same two lures has shown that the pyramid trap catches more stink bug adults than the clear sticky trap early in the season, and more adults and nymphs late in the season, but similar numbers mid-season. Importantly, the number of captured stink bugs on the clear sticky traps is positively correlated with the catch from the pyramid traps, which means the clear sticky traps could replace the pyramid traps and be used to determine presence, relative numbers and seasonal movement. The pyramid trap was improved by replacing the dichlorvos strip killing agent with a piece of pyrethroid-impregnated netting. The pyrethroid in this case is deltamethrin. The netting is similar to mosquito netting used in malaria prevention programs and is commonly referred to as long-lasting insecticide netting. The benefits are that it lasts for the entire trapping season and is much safer to handle due to its low mammalian toxicity. Long-lasting insecticide netting also shows promise as a means of trapping brown marmorated stink bugs. The most promising biological control agent continues to be a wasp parasitoid (parasites do not kill their host, but parasitoids do kill them) known as the samurai wasp, Trissolcus japonicas. This tiny wasp puts its own eggs into the stink bug’s eggs, and the developing wasp larvae use the stink bug egg for food until they emerge. In Asia, where brown marmorated stink bug originally came from, 60 to 90 percent of the eggs are parasitized by this wasp. Researchers in the U.S. have determined that the wasp highly prefers brown marmorated stink bug eggs over one of our native stink bugs eggs, spined soldier bug, so they should have little-to-no impact on them. The USDA has yet to approve the general release of these wasps, but it is under review and could potentially happen at any time. Interestingly, like brown marmorated stink bugs, this wasp has been transported across the ocean. To date, populations have been detected in some Mid-Atlantic states and the Pacific Northwest and are slowly spreading on their own. However, if permission would be given by the USDA, they could be mass-reared and released where they would produce the greatest benefit. Additionally, other brown marmorated stink bug predators and parasites, ones native to the U.S., have been identified and are being evaluated for their effectiveness. The particular insects attacking brown marmorated stink bugs vary according to habitat in each area. So far, the incidence of attack for these homegrown natural enemies of brown marmorated stink bugs is low. Another area of interest is looking for ways to protect natural enemies from the negative effects of control procedures used against brown marmorated stink bugs. By carefully managing insecticide use, natural enemies may be preserved. One way to manage insecticide use is by establishing threshold levels for the pest. Determining an accurate threshold level requires testing over several years and in many orchard environments. Research in West Virginia apple orchards has shown that a threshold of 10 brown marmorated stink bugs per trap can lower insecticide use by 40 percent compared to a grower standard program. A different trapping study compared brown marmorated stink bug captures in traps placed adjacent to wooded areas next to orchards to traps placed within orchards. The interior placement resulted in fewer nymphs captured, but adult catch was similar. However, there is still no clear relationship between the number of brown marmorated stink bugs captured in a trap and the amount of injury this level will cause in the orchard. Insecticide assays in North Carolina showed that out of four Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI)-approved materials – Entrust, Neemix, Pyganic, Azera – Entrust was the most harmful to two native parasitoid wasp species, even when exposed to 0.1-times the field rate. However, when exposed to residues of sugar-laced pesticides, only the lowest rate of Neemix had no impact. In an Oregon study, more than half of the wasps exposed to dry residues of Actara, Asana or Admire Pro died within an hour of exposure. After 24 hours, mortality was greater than 75 per cent for those materials and for Entrust and Exirel, but not for Altacor. A promising management tactic is attract-and-kill using pheromone-baited perimeter trees that receive either a regular insecticide application or have long-lasting insecticide netting within the canopy. Seven- and 14-day spray intervals using attract-and-kill or perimeter sprays were compared to 10 adults per trap (cumulative) threshold sprays of two alternate row middle applications and to a control. If the cumulative threshold level was met in the attract-and-kill or in the threshold spray plots, it also triggered two consecutive alternate row middle sprays. Fruit injury was significantly reduced in the apple blocks using the perimeter sprays on seven- or 14-day intervals in the blocks using attract-and-kill with sprays at seven- and 14-day intervals or with long-lasting insecticide netting, and in blocks treated after reaching threshold levels of brown marmorated stink bugs, compared to the grower standard. This suggests perimeter sprays are an effective management tactic to employ against brown marmorated stink bugs. Long-lasting insecticide netting placed in attract-and-kill trees in a vertical orientation killed more brown marmorated stink bugs than when the fabric was oriented horizontally. The level of injury to peaches and apples under grower standard programs was similar to the injury found when just orchard perimeters consisting of the exterior row plus one row toward the interior were sprayed. This did not hold for peaches if the orchard was 10 acres or more in size. Another use of long-lasting insecticide netting is to drape a 5-foot by 5-foot section of it over a pole or fence and attach an attractant to the netting. Several of these are placed on the orchard perimeter between woods and the orchard. Brown marmorated stink bugs attracted to the lure come into contact with the pesticide in the netting and die. This may allow for interception of the adults before they enter the orchard resulting in less fruit damage. Multi-state research efforts allow researchers to quickly acquire information that would take individual states or regions many years by themselves. Most of these experiments will be repeated in 2018 and new ones will be added as we continue to grow the knowledge base that allows us to successfully meet the challenges that brown marmorated stink bugs bring to the tree fruit industry.
Researchers are combining new digital tools, computer technologies and machine learning to bring cost-effective weed control solutions to the field. Although still in the early stages, this new high-tech solution is being designed as an advanced spot-spraying precision technology that will help farmers reduce input costs and add another management tool to their integrated management systems.  
The use of biocontrol pest methods in horticulture is growing, whether it’s trap crops, pheromone traps, predatory insects or biopesticides.
February 9, 2018 – For growers, a fundamental element of integrated pest management is knowing what pest and beneficial species are in your fields. But what if there’s an insect and no one knows if it’s good or bad? That was the situation for apple growers in Washington when it came to the European earwig. The bugs were there, but no one knew if they helped growers or harmed their crop. In 2014, the same year Robert Orpet began his doctoral program, there was a bad outbreak of woolly apple aphids in Washington orchards. “The trees looked like they were covered in snow,” he remembered. “It was very visible, and people don’t like that.” Orpet was part of an interdisciplinary team looking into the aphid, and one of his tasks was to interview growers about natural predators. Although there was some scientific literature in Europe that suggested earwigs were aphid predators, very few growers named them as important beneficial natural enemies. Many, in fact, said they thought earwigs were pests that damaged their apples because they’d found earwigs in cracks in their fruit. Orpet had an idea why grower’s perceptions and the scientific literature might differ. “Earwigs are active at night, so people don’t see them eating aphids,” he said. “They also move into tight spaces, a behavior called thigmotaxis, so it wasn’t clear if the insects were causing the damage to the fruit or just sheltering in the damage.” Another possible explanation was that the European literature was just wrong. “What literature there was tended to be observational and anecdotal,” he said. “The question had never been tested experimentally in a realistic field situation.” So, with a graduate student grant from the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, Orpet designed an experiment to test the positive and negative effects of earwigs in apple orchards. He set up experimental sections in four different orchards and, in each section, either added earwigs, removed earwigs or left them alone. Because of the insects’ small-space-seeking behaviour, they are easy to trap in corrugated cardboard rolls and move from one place to another. The results were pretty clear. First, earwigs are aphid predators. Not only did his numbers support that, he captured video of a single earwig completely consuming an aphid colony. (See it at “We measured it in a few different ways, but the maximum amount of woolly apple aphids was two to three times greater in the trees with fewer earwigs than the trees with more earwigs. Earwigs did suppress the woolly apple aphid.” The damage question was a bit more complex, but also came out in the earwigs’ favour. “We inspected apples very close to harvest when the apples were ripe,” he explained. “I looked at about 12,000 apples on the trees in the sections were earwigs had been augmented and removed. Overall, 97 per cent of the apples were good, and the chance of finding a good apple were the same in both the augmented and removal areas.” Orpet did find stem-bowl splitting in some apples – a flaw more common in the Gala variety – and there were earwigs in some of those splits. And in a handful – 17 apples in the augmented areas and five in the removal areas – those splits appeared to have been expanded by the insects. “My conclusion was the earwigs didn’t cause the cracking but did exploit the existing damage,” he explained. He’s scheduled to graduate in August and has already shared the findings at growers’ meetings: clear evidence that earwigs are beneficial natural predators in apple orchards. And, if growers are still skeptical, Orpet can always call up the video. Read more about the project at:
February 7, 2018, Guelph, Ont – The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) recently announced the approval of a minor use label expansion registration for Reason 500SC fungicide for control of downy mildew on basil and an amendment to update the label to include management of downy mildew on the new Brassica vegetable crop groups 5-13 and 4-13B in Canada. The head and stem Brassica vegetable group includes cabbage, napa cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli and the new Brassica leafy greens crop group includes arugula, Chinese broccoli, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, collards, cress, kale, mizuna, mustard greens, etc. Reason fungicide was already labeled for use on a number of crops in Canada for control of several diseases. These minor use projects were submitted by Ontario as a result of minor use priorities established by growers and extension personnel. Reason fungicide is toxic to aquatic organisms and may be harmful to beneficial predatory or parasitic arthropods. Do not apply this product or allow drift to other crops or non-target areas. Do not contaminate off-target areas or aquatic habitats when spraying or when cleaning and rinsing spray equipment or containers. Follow all other precautions, restrictions and directions for use on the Reason fungicide label carefully. For a copy of the new minor use label contact your local crop specialist, regional supply outlet or visit the PMRA label site
February 1, 2018, Madison, WI – The Colorado potato beetle is notorious for its role in starting the pesticide industry – and for its ability to resist the insecticides developed to stop it. Managing the beetle costs tens of millions of dollars every year, but this is a welcome alternative to the billions of dollars in damage it could cause if left unchecked. To better understand this tenacious pest, a team of scientists led by University of Wisconsin–Madison entomologist Sean Schoville sequenced the beetle’s genome, probing its genes for clues to its surprising adaptability to new environments and insecticides. The new information sheds light on how this insect jumps to new plant hosts and handles toxins, and it will help researchers explore more ways to control the beetle. Schoville and colleagues from 33 other institutes and universities report their findings in the Jan. 31, 2018 issue of Scientific Reports. The Colorado potato beetle’s rapid spread, hardiness, and recognizable tiger-like stripes have caught global attention since it began infesting potatoes in the 1800s. The beetle was investigated as a potential agricultural weapon by Germany in the 1940s and its postwar spread into the Soviet bloc stoked an anti-American propaganda campaign to pin the invasion on outsiders. More benignly, it has been featured on many countries’ stamps and is used in classrooms to educate about insect lifecycles. But it was the beetle’s ability to rapidly develop resistance to insecticides and to spread to climates previously thought inhospitable that has fascinated and frustrated entomologists for decades. “All that effort of trying to develop new insecticides is just blown out of the water by a pest like this that can just very quickly overcome it,” says Schoville. “That poses a challenge for potato growers and for the agricultural entomologists trying to manage it. And it’s just fascinating from an evolutionary perspective.” Within the beetle’s genome, Schoville’s team found a diverse and large array of genes used for digesting plant proteins, helping the beetle thrive on its hosts. The beetle also had an expanded number of genes for sensing bitter tastes, likely because of their preference for the bitter nightshade family of plants, of which potatoes are a member. But when it came to the pest’s infamous ability to overcome insecticides, the researchers were surprised to find that the Colorado potato beetle’s genome looked much like those of its less-hardy cousins. The team did not find new resistance-related genes to explain the insect’s tenaciousness. “So this is what's interesting – it wasn't by diversifying their genome, adding new genes, that would explain rapid pesticide evolution,” says Schoville. “So it leaves us with a whole bunch of new questions to pursue how that works.” Schoville and his collaborators see their research as a resource for the diverse group of scientists studying how to control the beetle as well as its life history and evolution. “What this genome will do is enable us to ask all sorts of new questions around insects, why they’re pests and how they’ve evolved,” says Yolanda Chen, a professor at the University of Vermont and another leader of the beetle genome effort. “And that’s why we’re excited about it.” The genome did provide a clue to the beetle’s known sensitivity to an alternative control system, known as RNA interference, or RNAi for short. The nucleic acid RNA translates the genetic instructions from DNA into proteins, and RNAi uses gene-specific strands of RNA to interfere with and degrade those messages. In the beetle, RNAi can be used to gum up its cellular machinery and act as a kind of insecticide. The Colorado potato beetle has an expanded RNAi processing pathway, meaning it could be particularly amenable to experimental RNAi control methods. Schoville and Chen are now sequencing another 100 genomes of the Colorado potato beetle and its close relatives to continue investigating the hardiness and adaptability that have captured so many people’s attention for the past 150 years.
January 8, 2018, Guelph, Ont – The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) recently announced the approval of a Minor Use label expansion of Delegate Insecticide for suppression of flea beetles on several root vegetables. Crops added to the label are: Radish Horseradish Oriental Radish Rutabaga Turnip Carrot Delegate was already labeled for control of diamondback moth, cabbage looper and imported cabbageworm on these crops.  Users should consult the complete label before using Delegate Insecticide and follow all other precautions and directions for use on the label carefully.
January 8, 2018, Guelph, Ont – The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) recently announced the approval of minor use label expansion registration for Prowl H2O herbicide for control of labeled weeds on transplanted field tomatoes grown in mineral soil in Canada. Prowl H2O was already labeled for use on a number of crops in Canada for control of several weeds. This minor use project was submitted by Ontario as a result of minor use priorities established by growers and extension personnel. Prowl H2O herbicide is toxic to aquatic organisms and non-target terrestrial plants. Do not apply this product or allow drift to other crops or non-target areas. Do not contaminate off-target areas or aquatic habitats when spraying or when cleaning and rinsing spray equipment or containers. In field tomatoes, do not apply Prowl H2O more than once in two consecutive years. Follow all other precautions, restrictions and directions for use on the Prowl H2O herbicide label carefully. For a copy of the new minor use label contact your local crop specialist, regional supply outlet or visit the PMRA label site.
December 12, 2017, Guelph, Ont – Syngenta Canada Inc. recently announced that Orondis Ultra fungicide is now available in a premix formulation. Orondis Ultra combines mandipropamid (FRAC Group 40) with oxathiapiprolin (FRAC Group 49) to provide protection against late blight (Phytophthora infestans). Orondis Ultra works through translaminar and acropetal activity, moving across the leaf surface as well as upwards into new growth via the plant’s xylem, or water-conducting vessels. Both modes of action protect the plant during periods of active growth. Previously, a case of Orondis Ultra contained two components – Orondis Ultra A and Orondis Ultra B – that required individual measuring and tank mixing. Now, the new premix formulation has a single product label, meaning the components no longer require mixing prior to use, and will be available in a 4 x 3.78 L case. “Weather conditions in-season can create the conditions needed for late blight to develop and thrive,” explains Eric Phillips, product lead for fungicides and insecticides with Syngenta Canada. “The new Orondis Ultra premix formulation helps make proactive late blight management more convenient for growers.” Orondis Ultra is also registered for aerial application in potatoes. In addition to potatoes, Orondis Ultra can be used on head and stem brassica vegetables, including broccoli and cabbage, bulb vegetables, such as onion and garlic, leafy vegetables, such as arugula and celery, and cucurbit vegetables, including cucumber and squash. See the Orondis UItra label for a complete list of crops and diseases. Orondis Ultra will be available for purchase as a premix formulation for the 2018 season. For more information about Orondis Ultra, visit, contact your local Syngenta representative or call 877-964-3682.
December 11, 2017, Guelph, Ont – Bayer recently announced the launch of Sencor STZ, a new herbicide for broad-spectrum control of all major annual grass and broadleaf weeds in potatoes. Sencor STZ combines Sencor with a new Group 14 mode of action, providing Canadian potato growers a new weed control option for their field. As a pre-emergent herbicide, Sencor STZ has uptake through the roots and shoots of weeds, providing early season weed control during critical crop stages. The product works on emerged weeds and provides residual broad-spectrum control to weeds yet to germinate. It will be provided in a co-pak. “As the first innovation in the potato herbicide space in many years, Sencor STZ offers an exciting new tool for Canadian potato growers to combat a wide spectrum of weeds and maximize crop yield,” says Jon Weinmaster, crop and campaign marketing manager for horticulture and corn at Bayer. Sencor is a proven performer that delivers reliable broad-spectrum weed control to Canadian potato growers. Trials utilizing Sencor STZ have demonstrated efficacy against Group 2- and 7-resistant biotypes, while providing essential control of Group 5-resistant broadleaf weeds, demonstrating the added benefit of the product’s Group 14 herbicide. “Given the increasing occurrence of herbicide resistance and a potentially shrinking number of solutions available for combatting tough-to-control weeds, Sencor STZ presents a welcome opportunity for growers to ensure they have the crop protection they need,” says Weinmaster. “This new herbicide affirms Bayer’s position as a leader in potato solutions and our commitment to growing and furthering innovation within horticulture.” Sencor STZ will be available to potato growers in Eastern Canada and British Columbia for the 2018 season. Sencor STZ comprises Group 5 (metribuzin) and Group 14 (sulfentrazone) herbicides. For more information regarding Sencor STZ, growers are encouraged to talk to their local retailer or visit
December 8, 2017, Ithaca, NY – The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets recently confirmed that the spotted lanternfly – an invasive insect originating in East Asia – has been found in New York state. This invasive pest has also been discovered in Pennsylvania and other states, and is a potential threat to important agricultural crops, including grapes, apples, hops and forest products. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the pest is not known to occur in Canada and is not yet on Canada's list of regulated pests. However, it may appear in Canada. Any producers who believe they have found suspect specimens are urged to please contact the CFIA. Tim Weigle, statewide grape and hops integrated pest management specialist with the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, works with grape and hop growers in implementing research-based IPM practices in environmentally and economically sustainable ways. He says the spotted lanternfly could rapidly expand its range by laying eggs on motor vehicles. “The name spotted lanternfly is a bit misleading as this plant hopper grows to one-inch in size as an adult,” he said. “Large groups of both the immature and adult stages of laternfly feed on plant stems and leaves from early spring to September, weakening and possibly killing the plant. They also excrete a sugary, sticky substance similar to honeydew, which leads to the growth of sooty mold on grapes, apples and hops making them unmarketable. “I would be concerned about any shipments that people are getting that originated in the Pennsylvania counties that are currently under quarantine. While this pest seems to prefer tree of heaven, it appears to be able to lay its eggs on any smooth surface like cars, trucks, tractors or stone. Therefore, the major traffic corridors coming up into the Hudson Valley and Finger Lakes area will probably have a greater potential for spotted lanternfly eggs being transported in due to vehicle traffic.” Elizabeth Lamb, coordinator for the ornamental integrated pest management team for the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program says that grape, hop and ornamental growers, along with tree-fruit producers, are most likely to be impacted by this invasive pest. “The industries most likely to be affected by spotted lanternfly in New York state are grapes and hops, tree-fruit production, and ornamentals,” she said. “Once you consider the ornamental hosts, it becomes an issue for homeowners and landscapers, too. So the first and most important piece in controlling spotted lantern fly is observation and monitoring – by growers and the public. “A small bright spot: the biology of the insect provides several avenues for using different methods of control. Egg masses can be scraped off the smooth surfaces where they are laid and then destroyed. Nymphs crawl up and down tree trunks to feed so they can be caught on sticky traps at the right time. Adults have a preference or requirement for feeding on Ailanthus trees (Tree of Heaven), so the Ailanthus can be used as ‘trap’ trees where pesticides are applied very specifically to control the insect without widespread use.”
November 14, 2017, Edmonton, Alta – The HortSnacks-to-Go 2017/2018 webinar series continues on November 20, 2017, with Using Biocontrols in Field Scale Fruit and Vegetable Crops. “Presenter Ronald Valentin is North America technical lead at Bioline AgroSciences,” says Dustin Morton, commercial horticulture specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “He’ll be looking at how other areas of the world are using biological controls in field scale vegetable and fruit crops and how Alberta producers can take advantage of this growing area.” The webinar takes place at 1:30 p.m. MT and there is no charge to attend. To register, email Dustin Morton or go to
August 15, 2017 - The PMRA have proposed to cancel the registration of both lambda-cyhalothrin (Matador/Silencer/Warrior) and phosmet (Imidan). The decisions can be found here:Lambda-cyhalothrin – – decisions state that lambda-cyhalothrin poses an unacceptable risk from dietary exposure (worst case scenario cumulative food residues would be too high), while phosmet poses a risk during application and post-application activities. The proposed precautions such as revised restricted entry intervals would not be agronomically feasible (e.g. 12 day REI for scouting carrots, 43 days for moving irrigation pipe).Public consultation is now open until September 23 (lambda-cyhalothrin) or September 30 (phosmet) so if growers wish to make comments on these proposed decisions you can submit them to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or talk to your growers’ association who can comment on your behalf.
Champaign, Ill. — A new lightweight, low-cost agricultural robot could transform data collection and field scouting for agronomists, seed companies and farmers.The TerraSentia crop phenotyping robot, developed by a team of scientists at the University of Illinois, was featured at the 2018 Energy Innovation Summit Technology Showcase in National Harbor, Maryland, on March 14.Traveling autonomously between crop rows, the robot measures the traits of individual plants using a variety of sensors, including cameras, transmitting the data in real time to the operator’s phone or laptop computer. A custom app and tablet computer that come with the robot enable the operator to steer the robot using virtual reality and GPS. For the full story, CLICK HERE. 
Drip irrigation is no longer the ‘new kid on the block,’ and nearly 10 per cent of U.S. farms rely on it to grow their crops. Each year, new growers dabble with drip and many learn by trial and error. Reaching out with some helpful tips to those growers is Inge Bisconer, technical marketing and sales manager for Toro Micro-Irrigation.
January 24, 2018, Charlottetown, PEI – It will now be elementary for a P.E.I. raw potato preparation operation to inspect the inside of potatoes with new technology called the Sherlock Separator-2400. RWL Holdings Ltd. in Travellers Rest, PEI, recently received more than $400,000 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and the province for food safety equipment. The Sherlock Separator is a chemical imaging machine that uses new technology to inspect the inside of the potato without removing the peel. READ MORE
January 11, 2018 - The growing popularity of robotic weeders for vegetable crops has grown partly out of necessity, says Steven Fennimore, an extension specialist at the University of California, Davis. The need for robotic weeders stems from two issues: a lack of herbicides available for use in specialty crops, and the fact that hand-weeding has become more and more expensive. Without pesticides, growers have had to hire people to hand-weed vast fields. Hand-weeding is slow and increasingly expensive: it can cost between $150 and $300 per acre. That motivates some growers to look to robotic weeders. “I’ve been working with robotic weeders for about 10 years now, and the technology is really just starting to come into commercial use,” Fennimore says. “It’s really an economic incentive to consider them.” Fennimore works with university scientists and companies to engineer and test the weeders. The weeders utilize tiny blades that pop in and out to uproot weeds without damaging crops. He says that although the technology isn’t perfect, it’s getting better and better. The weeders are programmed to recognize a pattern and can tell the difference between a plant and the soil. However, they currently have trouble telling the difference between a weed and a crop. That said, Fennimore explains how some companies are training the machines to tell a lettuce plant from a weed. He’s also working with university engineers on a system to tag the crop plant so the weeders will avoid it. “The problem with the machines right now is that they are version 1.0, and there’s tremendous room for improvement,” he says. “The inability to be able to tell the difference between a weed and a crop requires the grower to be very exact when using them. The rows have to be a little straighter, cleaner, and more consistent because the machines aren’t that sophisticated yet. The robots don’t like surprises.” The robotic weeders currently on the market cost anywhere between $120,000 and $175,000. For some growers, it is a better long-term option than expensive hand-weeding. Others think it’s a lot of money for a new technology, and are waiting for it to get better and cheaper. Fennimore believes robotic weeders are the future of weeding in specialty crops. Because of higher labour costs and more incentives to grow organically with fewer pesticides, European growers have been using robotic weeders for some time. Fennimore is focusing his work on physical control of weeds because it offers the best option. He’s also started working in crops besides lettuce, such as tomatoes and onions. He adds that each crop will require a different system. “I believe what makes the robotic weeders better than herbicides is that this electronic-based technology is very flexible and can be updated easily,” he says. “We all update our phones and computers constantly, which is a sign of a robust and flexible technology.” Fennimore recently presented his research at the annual meeting of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America in Tampa, FL.  
Pests in food-handling environments threaten product safety and create an unpleasant sight for employees and visitors. In addition to physically damaging the product or its packaging, some pests can carry and transmit diseases like E. coli, Salmonella and hantavirus. When products become infested or contaminated, they not only impact a business’s bottom line but also its reputation.
According to my children – and myself at times – I’m ancient. I grew up in those heady days before TV remotes and hand-held video games, back when where you stood in a room played a role in whether the TV station would come in clear. I remember when personal computers became mainstream. My first PC was gigantic, composed of three heavy, bulky components that could each serve as a boat anchor. The PC was going to revolutionize work. Hello three-day workweek.
August 28, 2017, Washington - In today’s modern, high-density orchards, growers are constantly seeking new ways to match the biology of their trees with emerging technologies in mechanization. The goal: improve both yields and efficiency."It’s true that some technologies don’t exist yet, but the compact, planar architectures with precision canopy management are most suitable for future mechanization and even for robotics," said Matthew Whiting, Washington State University research horticulturist. “So it is kind of an exciting time for what will be a new era of tree fruit production, as more and more technologies become available."Research labs and research orchards are driving new developments, but in many cases, they’re happening with innovative growers and private companies, he said.“Growers are innovating with orchard systems and varieties and architectures, and that’s fueling university research in many cases, and conversely, universities are driving new genotypes and how to manage and grow them best,” Whiting said. “It’s all coming together as it has never before, and it is an exciting time.”At the same time, employing the mechanization tools that already exist can take a variety of forms, across all four seasons.Those platforms you’re using for harvest? You can use them for pruning, green thinning and training, too.Two growers whose companies have been pushing forward with platforms, hedgers and other tools shared their insights for automating tasks in winter, spring, summer and fall with Good Fruit Grower.For Rod Farrow, who farms 520 acres of apples at Lamont Fruit Farm in Waterport, New York, the emphasis has been to increase income with high-value varieties and to reach maximum potential income on his standard varieties, Honeycrisp, Fuji and Gala.Almost everything is planted on Budagovsky 9 rootstock in 11-foot by 2-foot spacing, and he’s been planting and pruning to a fruiting wall for almost 18 years.“It’s less about employing mechanization by season than about deciding the orchard system — as much as anything, making sure the system that you plant now is suitable for robot use,” he said. “If it’s not, you’re going to be in trouble in terms of how you can adapt that new technology, which is coming really fast.”In the past two years, Farrow also has elected to install 3-foot taller posts in new plantings, allowing for a 2-foot taller system intended to increase production from 60 to 70 bins per acre to a more predictable 80-bin range. READ MORE 
July 27, 2017, Waterloo, Ont. - A biotechnology company that created a spray that helps farmers and growers protect crops from frost damage was among the big winners at the Velocity Fund Finals held recently at the University of Waterloo. Velocity is a comprehensive entrepreneurship program at Waterloo.Innovative Protein Technologies created Frost Armour, a spray-on-foam, after witnessing the effects of a devastating spring frost in 2012 that knocked out about 80 per cent of Ontario’s apple crop. Farmers would remove it after several days with another solution that converts it into a fertilizer."Frost damage not only affects farmers’ livelihoods, but also our food supply," said Erin Laidley, a Waterloo alumnus, who co-founded the company with Tom Keeling and Dan Krska, two alumni from the University of Guelph. "There are other spray-on solutions, but ours is non-toxic and has no negative environmental impact.”During the competition, 10 companies pitched their businesses to a panel of judges representing the investment, startup and business communities. Judges considered innovation, market potential, market viability and overall pitch.The following three companies were also grand-prize winners of $25,000 and space at Velocity. Three of the five top-prize-winning companies are based at Velocity Science. Altius Analytics Labs is a health-tech startup that helps occupational groups better manage musculoskeletal injuries. EPOCH is a skills and services marketplace that connects refugees and community members, using time as a means of exchange. VivaSpire is making lightweight wearable machines that purify oxygen from the air without the need for high pressure. For the first time, the prize of $10,000 for best hardware or science company went to a team that was not among the grand-prize winners. Vena Medical is making navigating through arteries faster, easier and safer by providing physicians with a camera that sees through blood.During the VFF event, an additional 10 teams of University of Waterloo students competed for three prizes of $5,000 and access to Velocity workspaces.The winners of the Velocity $5K are: HALo works to provide manual wheelchair users with accessible solutions to motorize their wheelchairs. QuantWave provides faster, cheaper and simpler pathogen detection for drinking water and food suppliers. SheLeads is a story-based game that helps girls realize their unlimited leadership potential. “Building a business is one of the boldest risks you can take, and yet our companies continue to demonstrate the vision, talent, and drive to think big and tackle challenging problems,” said Jay Shah, director of Velocity. “Today we are fortunate to benefit from an enormous wealth of experience from our judges who are leaders from the global investment, health and artificial-intelligence communities and entrepreneurs at heart. In helping Velocity award $125,000 in funding to these companies, we have taken a bet of our own in these founders, and said be bold, think big, and go out and change the world.”The judges for the Velocity Fund $25K competition travelled from Palo Alto, San Francisco and Toronto. They were Seth Bannon, founding partner, Fifty Years; Dianne Carmichael, chief advisor of health tech, Council of Canadian Innovators; Eric Migicovsky, visiting partner, Y Combinator; Tomi Poutanen, co-CEO, Layer 6 AI.The judges for the Velocity Fund $5K competition were Kane Hsieh, investor, Root Ventures; Tobiasz Dankiewicz, co-founder, Reebee; Karen Webb, principal, KWebb Solutions Inc.For more information on the Velocity Fund Finals, please visit
July 20, 2017, Ontario - Grapes and apples are high-value crops that require adequate water to grow properly. low water conditions such as drought stress have a negative impact on grapes and apples, lowering yields and reducing fruit quality.The Water Adaption Management and Quality Initiative project is using a suite of technology to determine soil moisture for grapes, apple and tender fruit and improve recording and monitoring of natural and artificial irrigation events to create best management practices and improve water conservation and efficiency while increasing yields. For more, check out the video above!
July 19, 2017, Guelph Ont. - A new weather database providing real-time updates from 80 automated weather stations along with customized weather-based recommendations from agronomists is helping Ontario crop farmers make key growing decisions in real time.Access to this new type of information means farmers can adjust the timing of everything from planting and necessary crop applications to harvest to get the most out of each acre.Three major Ontario co-operatives, AGRIS Co-operative, Wanstead Co-operative and Haggerty Creek, recognized the need for a weather database providing real-time updates and customized recommendations from agronomists to Ontario growers.In 2016, with Growing Forward 2 (GF2) funding accessed through the Agricultural Adaptation Council, the group successfully launched the AGGrower Dashboard, a project bringing southwestern Ontario growers together and assisting farmers making informed agronomic decisions.The AGGrower Dashboard gives producers an edge when it comes to dealing with weather; one of the most unpredictable and volatile aspects of farming. Participating growers have access to a database dashboard with 80 automated weather stations across southwestern Ontario measuring variables including temperature, rainfall and heat units.“We allow farmers to go onto the database and plot their individual field locations,” explains Dale Cowan, senior agronomist, AGRIS and Wanstead co-operatives. “Once they input their planting information, we give them field specific rainfall and heat unit data and then start to map out the growth stages in the crops throughout the growing season.”This project is a game-changer for the Ontario agricultural industry because it not only allows farmers to access information from the entire region, but also sends farmers timely agronomic advice and recommendations for their crops based on the crop stage and weather.“Everyone’s interested in how much it rains,” explains Cowan, “but what you have to know from a farm management standpoint, is if it rains, what do I need to do based on my crop growth stage?”The collaboration of the three co-operatives allows producers to make smart, informed decisions that end up benefiting not just the producer, but also the industry, land and environment.Cowan explains the database using nitrogen fertilizer application as an example. A farmer would never apply nitrogen the day before a big rainfall because the moisture would cause leaching.As a member of the database dashboard, the farmer could have a more accurate reading on weather or receive a warning and know to hold off on nitrogen application. Small management changes like this go a long way in helping the farmer act as an environmental steward of the land.When producers sign up, they enter geographical and crop information for each of their fields and adjust notification settings to what fits their lifestyle best. Farmers can group fields together to reduce the amount of notifications they receive, or check the site manually.“Once you put your data in, you can see the entire growth season for your fields,” says Cowan. “Farmers can log onto the website and see weather-wise what’s going on in their fields in near real time.”This is the first year all 80 weather stations are operating and recording data, but even during partial roll-out the previous year, the 160 early adopters using the dashboard were pleased with the results and Cowan expects to see an increase in farmer memberships this year.This project was funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario.
July 18, 2017, Ontario - New storage bins are currently being tested that could extend the shelf life of fresh Ontario produce.Dr. Jennifer DeEll, frest market quality program lead with Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, is currently leading a two-year project to test the effectiveness of the Janny MT modified atmosphere storage bins on Ontario fruits and vegetable crops.Check out the video for more!
July 17, 2017, Niagara on the Lake, Ont. - The Penn Refrigeration forced air system dramatically reduces the time peaches need to reach the optimal temperature. Take a look at how the equipment is being used at the Niagara on the Lake, P.G. Enns & Sons' facility.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) scientist Dr. Qiang Liu is developing a new plant protein-based bioplastic that will keep meat, dairy, and other food products fresher longer.The bioplastic is made from the by-products created by industrial processing of certain plants. Not only will this bioplastic protect perishable food better than regular plastic packaging, it is also more environmentally-friendly and sustainable.Dr. Liu has been working to advance the science around bioplastics for over 15 years. He is a "green" chemist - someone who specializing in making plastics and other goods from agricultural plants."I, along with industry, saw great opportunity to create something useful out of the leftover by-product from industrial canola oil processing, which is why this project was funded under the Growing Forward 2 Canola Cluster. We can extract all sorts of things like starches, proteins, and oils from plant materials to make plastics, but I am particularly interested in proteins from canola meal in this research project," says Dr. Liu.Plant protein-based bioplastic has been shown to have similar attributes to other plant-based bio-products; it can stretch, it doesn’t deform in certain temperatures, and in some cases, it biodegrades. That being said, building the polymers (long chains of repeating molecules) that are the basis of biofilms and plastics can be tricky and finding just the right technique and formula is challenging.One challenge with some protein polymers is that they are can be sensitive to a lot of moisture - not a good trait if you want to use them to protect food with a natural moisture content. Dr. Liu and his team recently discovered a formula and technique to make soy and canola protein polymers water-resistant by "wrapping" them in another polymer.The team was also able to add an anti-microbial compound to the mix, which not only made the resulting bioplastic able to prevent nasty bacteria like E. coli from growing - but, depending on how much was added, also could change the porosity of the film.The porosity of bioplastic (essentially how many holes are in it) is very important in food packaging since different foods need different amounts of moisture to stay fresh. Having a way to adjust porosity (either having more or less small holes in it) is a great feature in a potential plastic because it can either let more or less water go into or out of the area where the food is.Even though it is in the early stages of development, Dr. Liu believes there is great future for bringing this technology into the marketplace."The use of plant-based plastics as a renewable resource for packaging and consumer goods is becoming increasingly attractive due to environmental concerns and the availability of raw materials. My hope is that someday this research will lead to all plastics being made from renewable sources. It would be a win for the agriculture sector to have another source of income from waste and a win for our environment," explains Dr. Liu.Should this potential biofilm prove viable, it would be a win for the agriculture sector and the environment, as it would provide added revenue by creating a renewable plastic alternative.
BASF is in exclusive talks to acquire Bayer’s entire vegetable seeds business, operating under the global trademark Nunhems. Bayer intends to divest this business in the context of its planned acquisition of Monsanto. Definitive agreements have not been concluded. With this transaction, BASF targets to enhance its future seed platform and the market position of its Agricultural Solutions business.On October 13, 2017, BASF signed an agreement to acquire significant parts of Bayer’s seed and non-selective herbicide businesses. The all-cash purchase price is €5.9 billion, subject to certain adjustments at closing. The assets to be acquired include Bayer’s global glufosinate-ammonium non-selective herbicide business as well as its seed businesses for key row crops in select markets: canola hybrids in North America under the InVigor brand using the LibertyLink trait technology, oilseed rape mainly in European markets, cotton in the Americas and Europe as well as soybean in the Americas. The transaction also includes Bayer’s trait research and breeding capabilities for these crops and the LibertyLink trait and trademark. This acquisition complements BASF’s crop protection business and marks its entry into the seed business with proprietary assets in key agricultural markets.
Small and medium-sized agricultural operations in P.E.I. must adopt innovative solutions to compete in export markets and improve opportunities for employment in rural areas. That is why the Government of Canada is supporting facility upgrades at Thompson Potato Company Inc., to increase its processing capacity and extend the packing season, creating longer term employment for staff while supporting local potato growers.The Honourable Wayne Easter, Member of Parliament for Malpeque, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), today announced federal support to expand the processing facility at Thompson Potato Company.A repayable contribution of $350,000, provided through ACOA’s Business Development Program, will help the company build a new state-of-the-art ventilated storage expansion onto its facility in Victoria, and install optical sorting equipment.This investment builds on commitments made by the Government of Canada and the four Atlantic provinces to drive economic growth in the region through the Atlantic Growth Strategy, which supports strategic investments in initiatives that build on the region’s competitive advantages, such as its thriving agriculture industry, strong export potential, growing innovation network, and skilled workforce.“The storage upgrades and new optical equipment are essential to our plan for long-term, sustainable growth at Thompson Potato, and we are grateful for the repayable support from ACOA that helps us to make these investments now. The latest steps give us the capacity to better serve growers across PEI, access new export markets, and expand employment opportunities with our company,” said Wayne Thompson, Thompson Potato Company Inc.
Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. (OSF), the developer of the Arctic apple varieties, announced the promotion of Jenn Armen to vice president. Armen has been with OSF since 2010 in a multitude of capacities and has been overseeing business development and marketing activities for the company."As OSF continues to grow at a rapid pace we felt it was necessary to expand the executive team, and Jenn has certainly proven herself to be an integral part of our company over the years," states Neal Carter, president and founder of OSF. "It’s extremely exciting to see the company grow like this and I am very certain of our business success with the strong leadership team we have in place."Armen, a 30-year veteran in the specialty crops arena, was an integral part of the commercialization efforts of Arctic Golden apples in select U.S. supermarkets this past fall. Her extensive career has included working in crop protection to develop the first commercially introduced biological control product for the post harvest industry, managing food safety and quality assurance programs for produce and specialty foods, and working in the vegetable seed industry on products that garnered attention from the entire supply chain about the value of genetics. Armen, who is a trained botanist, mycologist and plant pathologist, also ran her own consulting company for a number of years."I look forward to continuing our production and commercialization efforts with Arctic apples and develop creative ways to improve the produce experience," explained Armen. "I am honored to work with such a highly skilled team."
On the heels of Alberta's boycott of B.C. wines, the B.C. government is ramping up its support for the industry by proclaiming April as B.C. Wine Month, including a special month-long promotion at all public liquor stores."We are grateful for the loyalty and support we have received from the consumers across B.C. and Canada in response to Alberta's announcement to boycott B.C. wine," said Miles Prodan, president and CEO of the BC Wine Institute. "We appreciate the province's quick response in support of B.C.'s wineries, and we remain resolute in our mission to secure sales opportunities here in B.C. for the many B.C. grape wineries across the province, most of which are small, family-owned-and-operated businesses, and will continue to promote our local world-class products at home and abroad."Along with the proclamation of B.C. Wine Month in April, other government initiatives in support of B.C.'s wine industry include: Increased opportunities to have B.C. wines in local BC Liquor Stores, including local wines from small and medium producers that are not typically available outside of the wineries. Promotion throughout the month with storefront displays. A greater variety of in-store tastings of B.C. wines. Funding for an expansion of the Buy BC: Eat Drink Local campaign, to further develop partnerships between the BC Wine Institute and the British Columbia Restaurant and Food Services Association. Funding to support the marketing of BC VQA wines to new international markets. While the Province has worked to develop this support, the Ministry of Agriculture has been involved in ongoing engagement with wine producers throughout the province.
March 5, 2018, Kentville, NS – Perennia Food and Agriculture Inc is pleased to announce Dr. Viliam Zvalo is its new chief executive officer. Dr. Zvalo joins Perennia from Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Vineland, Ont., where he has led their world crop program since 2014. Under his leadership, non-traditional crops such as okra, Chinese long and Indian round eggplant have began to find ground on Canadian farms. Prior to his time at Vineland, he was a team lead and senior specialist for 13 years at Perennia, focusing on all vegetables crops. At the beginning of his professional career, he worked in Canada’s biotechnology and agricultural chemical industry, which helped him gain a better understanding of the private sector research and development environment. "The board of directors is very pleased to welcome Viliam back to Perennia in this new capacity," says Perennia Chairman Charles Keddy of Keddy Nursery in Kentville, NS. "He brings a wealth of agricultural, research and business experience and leadership, and has a keen interest in Nova Scotia's fisheries sector and working with industry and the Perennia team to create more wealth for clients." Dr. Zvalo has a PhD in plant physiology/soil ecology and an executive MBA from St. Mary's University. He has travelled extensively and has built successful partnerships working with growers, suppliers and technology providers and many agriculture development agencies locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. "I am very excited to be returning to Perennia is this new position and to work with such a professional and accomplished team,” says Dr. Zvalo. “It is awesome to be coming back to Nova Scotia and to support the growth of these two important sectors.” Perennia also announced the appointment of Lynne Godlien as its new chief operating officer. Godlien has been at the helm of Perennia as interim CEO for the past year and has been with the company in progressively senior positions since 2001, most recently as director of marketing and communications. "The board is confident this new senior management team will do great work with the team, board and partners to create tangible results for our agriculture and seafood clients," says Keddy. Dr. Zvalo will start as CEO in April 4, 2018. Until that time, Godlien will continue as interim CEO.
February 28, 2018, Toronto, Ont – Ontario’s new minimum wage is affecting the city’s entire food industry. On Jan. 1 the province’s minimum wage rose to $14 an hour, after increasing to $11.25 an hour last April. READ MORE
February 26, 2018, Osoyoos, BC – Pinder Dhaliwal always knew that the farm was his home no matter what career he chose to follow. And that’s exactly what the new president of the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association fell back on after exploring several jobs in his youth. The 48-year-old farmer from Oliver was recently elected to take over the helm of the BCFGA after former president Fred Steele stepped down. READ MORE
February 23, 2018, Niagara Falls, Ont – The chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association expects labour, energy and trade to be the discussion points this year in the horticulture industry. The association held its annual general meeting in Niagara Falls this week. And greenhouse vegetable grower Jan VanderHout will serve another one-year term as chair of the OFVGA. READ MORE
February 23, 2018, Niagara Falls, Ont – Apple and lavender grower Harold Schooley and crop protection specialist Craig Hunter are the winners of the 2018 Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA) Industry Award of Merit. It’s the first time in the organization’s history that two winners were selected in the same year. The awards were presented recently at the OFVGA annual banquet in Niagara Falls. Schooley has farmed in Norfolk County since the mid-1970s, growing apples and more recently adding lavender production to his family’s operation. He joined the OFVGA board of directors as chair of the research section in 2004, a role he has held until the section was retired this year. “Growers rely on research to help advance the industry and we appreciate Harold’s many years of service on our behalf to ensure we get the research we need to grow our markets and maintain our competitiveness,” says Jan VanderHout, OFVGA chair. “Harold’s insights and expertise have been valued additions, both to our board table and to the fruit and vegetable industry as a whole.” During his tenure as research section chair, Schooley reviewed hundreds of research proposals for industry relevance, attended countless research-related meetings and events, and represented the grower viewpoint during research priority setting exercises. He is a board member and past chair of Ontario Agri-Food Technologies, an active member of the Norfolk Fruit Growers, and was previously involved with the now-defunct Ontario Apple Marketing Commission. Schooley is also a past recipient of the Golden Apple Award, which recognizes individuals for outstanding contributions to the apple industry. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture and a Masters’ in Plant Pathology, both from the University of Guelph, and lives with his wife Jan on their third generation family orchard near Simcoe. Hunter has dedicated his career to crop protection, spending 30 years with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) before joining the OFVGA to work on behalf of horticulture growers and becoming an industry-renowned expert in the process. “As growers we’ve been very fortunate to have Craig’s skills and expertise at our disposal to help ensure access to new crop protection materials and keep old ones available,” says Charles Stevens, OFVGA crop protection chair. “He is a valued and respected resource in global crop protection circles and his efforts on behalf of growers have been invaluable to our industry.” Hunter helped establish the Pest Management Centre in 2003, Canada’s hub for improving access to newer, safer pesticides as well as promoting novel production practices that reduce agriculture’s reliance on pesticides, and was also instrumental in helping start the Ontario Pesticide Education Program more than 30 years ago. He’s the longest serving member of the provincial Ontario Pesticide Advisory Committee, chairs the national Minor Use Priority Setting meetings, and is a driving force behind the Global Minor Use Summits that are working towards global registration for crop protection products. Hunter lives in Simcoe with his wife, Jane, and is a graduate of the University of Guelph, holding a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and a Masters’ in Environmental Biology. The OFVGA Award of Merit is presented annually to an individual or an organization that has made outstanding contributions to the fruit and vegetable industry.
February 22, 2018, Niagara Falls, Ont – The Canadian Government recently announced an investment of more than $175,000 to the Fruit and Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corporation (DRC) in providing services to Canadian buyers and sellers of fresh fruits and vegetables. The announcement was made during the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention in Niagara Falls. The DRC, which acts as a third party financial dispute resolution body for fruit and vegetable growers, received an investment of $118,795 to deliver an outreach and education initiative on the impending Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) and regulations. An additional $58,807 was provided under the same program to support the industry to initiate work toward updating the Canadian grade standards for fresh fruits and vegetables in order to reflect current market and consumer preferences. "We are very pleased the Government of Canada has provided support to the fruit and vegetable sector for the DRC’s role in the trade and commerce portion of the SFCA as well as modernization of the Grade Standards Compendium for fresh fruit and vegetables,” said Fred Webber, president and CEO of the DRC. “The playing field will be truly leveled when everyone knows the rights and responsibilities associated with the proposed regulatory requirement for a DRC membership. Furthermore, the grade standards play an essential role in evaluating and resolving grade and condition disputes fairly and efficiently.” "This investment will help provide clarity and confidence to farmers across Canada and ensure Canada continues to produce the same high quality fruit and vegetables to Canadians and the world," added Rebecca Lee, executive director of the Canadian Horticultural Council.
February 20, 2018, Kelowna, BC – It’s not something politicians like to talk about but Okanagan fruit growers say it’s something that needs to be addressed. The B.C. Fruit Growers Association says it’s time governments begin talking about the possibility of a deer cull because the deer are destroying their orchards. READ MORE

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