Sun, heat stress safety for B.C.’s agriculture workers

Sun, heat stress safety for B.C.’s agriculture workers

The best way to reduce the risk of sun and heat exposure in the workplace is to implement a sun and heat safety action plan for outside workers.

Innate second gen potato receives Canadian clearance

Innate second gen potato receives Canadian clearance

The second generation of Innate potatoes contains four beneficial traits of relevance to potato growers, processors and consumers

October 17, 2017, Charlottetown, PEI – Another load of Island potatoes is on its way south to help with hurricane relief, after the P.E.I. potato industry made a donation of spuds to Florida last month. This time, the spuds are destined for Puerto Rico. A tractor-trailer load left P.E.I. Monday night, headed for a distribution centre in Georgia. From there, the spuds will be loaded onto a ship bound for Puerto Rico. READ MORE
October 13, 2017, Plessisville, Que – A Quebec-based organic cranberry processor is now ready to expand production and boost exports, thanks to an investment from the federal government.The investment, announced Oct. 13, has helped Fruit d’Or commission a new plant just as Canadian food processors are taking advantage of new market opportunities under the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union, which took effect September 21. Since then, Fruit d’Or has sold around 635,000 pounds of dry fruits in Europe.The federal government helped build the new plant, and buy and commission new equipment and technologies, thanks to more than $9.3 million in funding under the AgriInnovation Program of the Growing Forward 2 Agreement.“Agriculture and Agri‑Food Canada’s support through the AgriInnovation Program and interest-free financing is very important for Fruit d’Or,” said Martin Le Moine, president and CEO of the company. “Fruit d’Or has invested more than $50 million in its new Plessisville plant over the past two years. Because of this support, Fruit d’Or has an ultra-modern facility, equipped with innovations that enable it to provide its clients in more than 50 countries with innovative products that showcase Quebec cranberries and berries.”Fruit d'Or produces cranberry juice and dried fruits to meet the growing demand of consumers around the world. As a result of this project, the company has increased its processing capacity by eight million pounds of traditional cranberries and 15 million pounds of organic cranberries over three years.
October 12, 2017, Deschambault, Que – The Canadian government is prioritizing science and innovation and the competitiveness of the agriculture industry as a whole to create better business opportunities for producers and Canadians. Funding was announced recently for two projects by the Centre de recherche en sciences animales de Deschambault (CRSAD), including a plan to increase the pollination efficiency of bees to achieve better yields in cranberry production. Funding of $183,127 will enable the CRSAD to identify the best method of feeding bees with sucrose syrup and to test variations of that method to maximize the bees’ pollination efficiency in cranberry production. The outcomes of this project are designed to increase cranberry yields and decrease bee feeding costs. “The CRSAD is very appreciative of the federal government’s strong support for its research activities,” said Jean-Paul Laforest, president of the CRSAD. “Canada holds an enviable position in the world for cranberry production, and bees are major allies of the industry. Our project will deliver positive outcomes for both cranberry production and the bees themselves.” In 2016, the Quebec cranberry industry generated nearly $82 million in market receipts and over $30 million in exports.  
October 12, 2017, Madison, WI – The colour red is splashed across gardens, forests and farms, attracting pollinators with bright hues, signaling ripe fruit and delighting vegetable and flower gardeners alike. But if you put a ruby raspberry up against a crimson beet and look closely, you might just notice: they are different reds. Millions of years ago, one family of plants – the beets and their near and distant cousins – hit upon a brand new red pigment and discarded the red used by the rest of the plant world. How this new red evolved, and why a plant that makes both kinds of red pigment has never been found, are questions that have long attracted researchers puzzling over plant evolution. Writing recently in the journal New Phytologist, University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor of Botany Hiroshi Maeda and his colleagues describe an ancient loosening up of a key biochemical pathway that set the stage for the ancestors of beets to develop their characteristic red pigment. By evolving an efficient way to make the amino acid tyrosine, the raw material for the new red, this plant family freed up extra tyrosine for more uses. Later innovations turned the newly abundant tyrosine scarlet. The new findings can aid beet breeding programs and provide tools and information for scientists studying how to turn tyrosine into its many useful derivatives, which include morphine and vitamin E. “The core question we have been interested in is how metabolic pathways have evolved in different plants, and why plants can make so many different compounds,” says Maeda. “Beets were the perfect start for addressing the question.” The vast majority of plants rely on a class of pigments called anthocyanins to turn their leaves and fruits purple and red. But the ancestors of beets developed the red and yellow betalains, and then turned off the redundant anthocyanins. Besides beets, the colour is found in Swiss chard, rhubarb, quinoa and cactuses, among thousands of species. Betalains are common food dyes and are bred for by beet breeders. When Maeda lab graduate student and lead author of the new paper Samuel Lopez-Nieves isolated the enzymes in beets that produce tyrosine, he found two versions. One was inhibited by tyrosine – a natural way to regulate the amount of the amino acid, by shutting off production when there is a lot of it. But the second enzyme was much less sensitive to regulation by tyrosine, meaning it could keep making the amino acid without being slowed down. The upshot was that beets produced much more tyrosine than other plants, enough to play around with and turn into betalains. Figuring that humans had bred this highly active tyrosine pathway while selecting for bright-red beets, Lopez-Nieves isolated the enzymes from wild beets. “Even the wild ancestor of beets, sea beet, had this deregulated enzyme already. That was unexpected. So, our initial hypothesis was wrong,” says Lopez-Nieves. So he turned to spinach, a more distant cousin that diverged from beets longer ago. Spinach also had two copies, one that was not inhibited by tyrosine, meaning the new tyrosine pathway must be older than the spinach-beet ancestor. The researchers needed to go back much further in evolutionary time to find when the ancestor of beets evolved a second, less inhibited enzyme. Working with collaborators at the University of Michigan and the University of Cambridge, Maeda’s team analyzed the genomes of dozens of plant families, some that made betalains and others that diverged before the new pigments had evolved. They discovered that the tyrosine pathway innovation – with one enzyme free to make more of the amino acid – evolved long before betalains. Only later did other enzymes evolve that could turn the abundant tyrosine into the red betalains. “Our initial hypothesis was the betalain pigment pathway evolved and then, during the breeding process, people tweaked the tyrosine pathway in order to further increase the pigment. But that was not the case,” says Maeda. “It actually happened way back before. And it provided an evolutionary stepping stone toward the evolution of this novel pigment pathway.” The takeaway of this study, says Maeda, is that altering the production of raw materials like tyrosine opens up new avenues for producing the varied and useful compounds that make plants nature’s premier chemists. For some unknown ancestor of beets and cactuses, this flexibility in raw materials allowed it to discover a new kind of red that the world had not seen before, one that is still splashed across the plant world today.
October 11, 2017, West Lafayette, IN – Apple growers want to get the most out of their high-value cultivars, and a Purdue University study shows they might want to focus on the types of apples they plant near those cash crops. Since apple trees cannot self-pollinate, the pollen from other apple varieties is necessary for fruit to grow. Orchard owners often plant crab apple trees amongst high-value apples such as Honeycrisp, Gala and Fuji. Crab apples produce a lot of flowers and thus a lot of pollen for bees to spread around to the other trees. “If you are growing some Honeycrisp, you want to plant something next to your Honeycrisp that bees will pick up and spread to your Honeycrisp and make good apples,” said Peter Hirst, a Purdue professor of horticulture and landscape architecture. “Growers will alternate plantings of different cultivars every few rows to promote cross-pollination, and they’ll sometimes put a crab apple tree in the middle of a row as well.” Hirst and Khalil Jahed, a Purdue doctoral student, wondered if it mattered which type of apple pollinated high-value cultivars. To find out, they manually applied pollen from Red Delicious and Golden Delicious, and two types of crab apple – Ralph Shay and Malus floribunda – to Honeycrisp, Fuji and Gala. They put a net over the trees to keep the bees out, so they could control the pollen that was applied. Their findings, published recently in the journal HortScience, showed that Honeycrisp pollinated with the Red Delicious variety doubled fruit set — the conversion of flowers into fruit — compared to Honeycrisp pollinated with the crab apple varieties. In Honeycrisp, pollen tubes created by Red Delicious pollen reached on average 85 per cent of the distance to the ovary, compared to 40 per cent for pollen tubes from crab apple pollen. And fruit set with Red Delicious pollen was four times higher in the first year of the study, and eight times higher in the second, compared to crab apples. “On Honeycrisp especially, the two crab apples we tried are not very effective at all. The pollen grows very slowly, and you end up with reduced fruit set as a consequence,” Hirst said. The crab apples did better with Fuji and Gala but still didn’t match the effectiveness of Red Delicious pollen. When pollen lands on the pistil of the flower, it must be recognized, and if it is compatible, the pollen will germinate and grow down the style to the ovary. Once fertilized, the ovule becomes a seed and the flower becomes a fruit. Jahed collected flowers from pollinated trees each day for four days after pollination and measured pollen tube growth and fruit set. Overall, the Red Delicious was the best pollinizer, followed by Golden Delicious and then the crab apple varieties. Jahed said the experiment should lead apple growers to consider the design of their orchards to ensure that better pollinizers are planted near high-value crops. “If they have a good pollinizer and a compatible pollinizer, the fruit quality and fruit set will be higher than with those that are not compatible,” Jahed said. The research was part of Jahed’s master’s degree thesis, which he has completed. He and Hirst do not plan to continue studying the effectiveness of different pollinizers, but he hopes that others take up the research. They do plan to publish one final paper on pollination and fruit quality in 2018.
October 11, 2017, Edmonton, Alta – Essentials of Selling Local Food takes place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on October 24, 2017, at the Wildwood Recreation Complex in Wildwood, Alta. “This one-day workshop is for people interested in learning more about selling food direct to consumers and potentially transitioning into retail sales,” said Delores Serafin with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “You’ll learn about the local food opportunity, and the different farm direct marketing channels, their benefits and challenges. As well, you’ll hear about the scope of the retail market, market drivers and the pros and cons of accessing the retail market opportunity.” At the workshop, participants will: meet the Alberta agriculture specialists available to assist you as you establish your food business hear about the regulations that apply to your food business Alberta Health Services will share the food regulation requirements as well as safe food handling practices learn everything you need to know as you assess the retail food market receive insights into the Yellowhead County Local Food initiative Cost is $23.75 plus GST, and lunch and refreshments will be provided. The registration deadline is October 17, 2017. Registration can be done online or by calling 1-800-387-6030. For more information, contact Delores Serafin at 780-427-4611 or via email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .'; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text2397 ); document.write( '' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
October 10, 2017, Beeton, Ont – It’s potato harvest season once again and as storage bins throughout the area begin to fill up with mounds of taters, some farmers are finding themselves in a bit of a high-wire act to ensure they don’t lose their crops. Mark Vanoostrum, the supply and quality manager for W.D. Potato in Beeton, said the chipping potatoes harvested so far are revealing the effects of all the wacky weather the area experienced this past summer. One of the big challenges is making sure the potatoes don’t sit too long and turn bad, so timely co-ordination of shipments to potato chip companies is critical. READ MORE
October 4, 2017 – Soils keep plants healthy by providing plants with water, helpful minerals, and microbes, among other benefits. But what if the soil also contains toxic elements? In some growing areas, soils are naturally rich in elements, such as cadmium. Leafy vegetables grown in these soils can take up the cadmium and become harmful to humans. What to do? The solution goes back to the soil. Adrian Paul, a former researcher now working in the Sustainable Mineral Institute in Brisbane, Australia, is working to find which soil additives work best. Cadmium appears in very low levels or in forms that prevent contamination in soils across the world. However, some soils naturally have more than others. It can result from the erosion of local rock formations. In some instances, it’s present due to human activity. Metal processing, fertilizer or fossil fuel combustion, for example, can leave cadmium behind. Cadmium may decrease people’s kidney function and bone density. As a result, international guidelines set safety limits on cadmium found in food. Growers with otherwise fertile fields need to grow food within these safe levels. Their livelihood depends on it. “Our research aims to protect producers and consumers by lowering the cadmium in vegetables. This gives producers the ability to grow safe, profitable crops,” Paul says. “Consumers need to be able to safely eat what the farmers grow.” Paul worked with four additives: zinc and manganese salts, limestone, and biosolids [nutrient-rich organic materials from sewage processed at a treatment facility] compost. Although each works in a slightly different manner, the soil amendments generally solve the cadmium problem in two ways. They can prevent the passage of cadmium from the soil to the plant by offering competing nutrients. They can also chemically alter the cadmium so it is unavailable. The researchers found that a combination of compost, zinc, and limestone brought the levels of cadmium in spinach down to nontoxic levels. The next step in this work is to better determine the ideal combination of the soil amendments. Researchers also want to study vegetables besides spinach, and other elements. “Farmlands provide for us all,” Paul says. ”Rehabilitating agricultural fields, by removing heavy metals like cadmium, means healthier soils and healthier food.” Read more about this study in the Journal of Environmental Quality.
October 3,2017, Guelph, Ont – Ontario farmers who are thinking about growing a non-traditional crop have a valuable new tool to assess whether it’s a profitable idea. Making a Case for Growing New Crops is an online learning resource recently developed by the Agri-Food Management Institute (AMI) to help farmers engage in business planning before planting. “This resource will help you decide if that new crop is right for your farm at this time,” says Ashley Honsberger, executive director of AMI. According to Honsberger, farmers are increasingly looking at non-traditional crops to meet new customer preferences, realize higher value per acre, or for crop rotation and other environmental benefits. The resource was developed in partnership with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), who surveyed members earlier this year to gauge interest in growing new crops, as well as the best method of delivering information. “We know Ontario farmers are interested in growing new crops, and are looking for timely information on marketing a crop, finding buyers and locating processors,” says Keith Currie, OFA president. “We appreciated providing AMI with industry input on a resource that will ultimately support farm business management and reduce the risk of expanding into a new crop.” Making a Case for Growing New Crops features five interactive modules that users work through on their own schedule to develop a business case for diversifying their farm. Through a series of videos and worksheets, users can determine whether the crop is an agronomic fit, identify customers and markets, analyze their cost of production and develop a budget. In the end, they will have a personalized and confidential report that includes a business model canvas (a one-page visual business plan) as well as an action plan to share with their team and use to communicate with their advisors and lenders. “Whatever the reason, taking time to build a business case for growing new crops makes sense,” says Honsberger. “While we encourage farmers to take a new approach, we also want them to really evaluate the opportunity and manage any potential risks associated with growing new crops.” Of the 402 farmers responding to the online survey about new crops – as part of the Making a Case for Growing News Crops project – about 20 per cent had tried a new crop in the past five years. The main reasons farmers chose to trying something new included: changing markets and emerging opportunities (29 per cent), crop rotation and environmental benefits (24 per cent), and reducing overall risk through diversification (24 per cent). And 27 per cent of farmers said they develop a business plan before beginning a new crop opportunity. For growers who had not introduced a new crop in the last five years, 7 per cent plan to in the next two years, 49 per cent do not plan to, and 44 per cent were undecided. These results suggest farmers are open to new crop opportunities, but are hesitant and unsure of how successful they may be. The survey findings also contributed to OFA’s submission for the Bring Home the World: Improving Access to Ontario’s World Foods consultation by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
October 3, 2017, Edmonton, Alta – Alberta seed potato companies are invited to participate in a market development mission to Thailand from November 19-27, 2017. The mission will include stops in Bangkok, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, Thailand to meet with importers, distributors and potential customers as well as touring local potato farm operations. “This mission will profile Alberta as a reliable producer of high quality, low virus seed potatoes,” says Rachel Luo, senior trade and relations officer with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “This will be the first market development mission focused on seed potato suppliers to Thailand since Alberta was granted market access last year.” To be eligible to participate in this mission, companies should be providers of seed potatoes and interested in the Thai marketplace. There is no fee to participate in the program; however, companies are responsible for payment of their own travel expenses and any other costs occurred. Participating companies may be reimbursed for their participation for 1/2 of the actual designated participation costs, up to a maximum of $2,500 [CDN]. Reimbursement is to help offset a portion of their travel expenses including airfares and accommodations for one representative per company. Participating companies will receive full details about eligible expenses in their confirmation letter. For more information, contact Rachel Luo,
September 25, 2017, Guelph, Ont – Ontario tender fruit farmers need the right mix of rain, sunshine and growing temperatures to produce juicy, fresh peaches, pears, cherries, apricots and nectarines. But when extreme weather hits during critical crop development, it can wreak havoc on an entire crop. And unpredictable weather events are becoming more and more common. The Ontario Tender Fruit Growers saw the need for a better way to work with whatever the weather sends their way. “We had no good data available to know the damage that would result to our fruit crops from extreme temperatures,” says Phil Tregunno, chair of Ontario Tender Fruit. With Growing Forward 2 funding through the Agricultural Adaptation Council, the producer group was able to work with researchers to assess the bud hardiness of various tender fruit crops. Bud hardiness gives an indication of the temperature the dormant buds can withstand before there will be damage to the resulting crop. “If we want to be able to provide Ontario and Canadian consumers with high quality, local fruit, we need to have better tools to manage extreme weather,” says Tregunno. Data gathered on the bud hardiness of tender fruit crops now feeds a new real-time, automated weather alert system to help Ontario tender fruit growers make decisions about how to manage extreme weather events. Developed in partnership with Brock University, KCMS Inc., Weather INnovations Inc. and Ontario Tender Fruit, the new system runs on regional temperatures that are updated every 15 minutes, and bud survival data. With 90 per cent of tender fruit production in the Niagara region, the bulk of the weather information comes from that area of the province. The new weather tool is available to growers at TenderFruitAlert.ca and is searchable by location, commodity and cultivar. The site provides information to help growers monitor bud cold hardiness through the fruits’ dormant period and manage winter injury. “Being prepared is half the battle when you farm with the weather,” says Tregunno. “This new tool gives us accurate, local weather, and matches that with the susceptibility of the specific crops and cultivars to predict that temperature when a grower will start to see crop losses. With that information, growers can make management decisions about how to deal with extreme weather – including the use of wind machines to keep temperatures above the critical point for crop injury.” Ontario is home to more than 250 tender fruit growers, generating more than $55 million in annual sales from fresh market and processing. Those growers all remember the devastating cold weather in the spring of 2012 that saw tender fruit losses of 31 per cent to 89 per cent.  The new web-based cold hardiness database will help growers respond and prepare for potentially damaging weather events, and that will help protect the valuable fresh, local markets, Ontario’s Niagara region is so well known for.
September 20, 2017, Washington – Storing Honeycrisp long-term while achieving good packouts and maintaining fruit of acceptable eating quality in the second part of the storage season has been a continuous challenge for our industry. Up until last year, most packers had become comfortable knowing what types of performance to expect out of each lot. With Honeycrisp, you basically had to control your decay, manage chilling injuries (mainly soft scald), and bitter pit. We did know that this apple was sensitive to carbon dioxide injury but, aside from the occasional cavities, most packers did not report having significant problems. READ MORE    
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 – https://onvegetables.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/cyhalothrinlambdaprvd2017-03.pdfPhosmet – https://onvegetables.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/phosmetprvd2017-07.pdfThe 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.
July 26, 2017, Ontario - Stemphylium leaf blight (Stemphylium vesicarium) of onion starts as yellow-tan, water-soaked lesions developing into elongated spots. As these spots cover the entire leaves, onions prematurely defoliate thereby reducing the yield and causing the crop to be more susceptible to other pathogens. Stemphylium was first identified in Ontario in 2008 and has since spread throughout the Holland Marsh and other onion growing areas in southwestern Ontario.Stemphylium leaf blight can sometimes be misdiagnosed as purple blotch (Alternaria porri), as they both have very similar symptoms initially. Purple blotch has sunken tan to white lesions with purple centers while Stemphylium tends to have tan lesions without the purple centers.Stemphylium spores are dispersed by wind. Spore sampling at the Muck Crops Research Station using a Burkard seven-day spore sampler detected an average of 33 spores/m3 in 2015 and seven spores/m3 in 2016. In ideal conditions, leaf spot symptoms occur six days after initial infection. Stemphylium tends to infect dead tissue or wounds, often as a result of herbicide damage, insect feeding or from extreme weather. Older onion leaves are more susceptible to infection than younger leaves and symptoms are traditionally observed after the plants have reached the three- to four-leaf stage.Over the last few years, Botrytis leaf blight (Botrytis squamosa) has become less of an issue and has been overtaken by Stemphylium as the most important onion disease — other than maybe downy mildew. This may be because the fungicides used to target Stemphylium are likely managing Botrytis as well. Since Stemphylium can be so devastating and hard to control, fungicides are now being applied earlier in the season which may be preventing Botrytis to become established. Botrytis squamosa overwinters as sclerotia in the soil and on crop debris left from the previous year and infects onions in mid-June when temperatures and leaf wetness are favourable for infection. In the Holland Marsh, Stemphylium lesions were first observed on June 29, 2015 and July 7, 2016.The primary method of management is through foliar fungicides such as Luna Tranquility, Quadris Top and Sercadis. Keep in mind that Sercadis and Luna Tranquility both contain a group 7 fungicide so remember to rotate and do not make sequential applications. The effectiveness of these fungicides in the future depends on the spray programs you choose today. There are already Stemphylium isolates insensitive to several fungicides in New York so resistance is a real and very serious issue with this disease. Remember to rotate fungicide groups with different modes of actions to reduce the possibility of resistance. A protective fungicide is best applied when the onion crop has reached the three-leaf stage, however it may not be necessary in dry years.Research is currently being conducted at the Muck Crops Research Station to improve forecasting models to identify the optimal timing for commercial growers to achieve good control. BOTCAST disease forecasting model is available in some areas of Ontario to help growers predict the activity of the disease. Warm, wet weather between 18-26°C is most favourable for disease development. Regular field scouting is still the best method to assess disease levels.Plant spacing that permits better air movement and irrigation schedules that do not extend leaf wetness periods may be helpful in some areas. Recent work at the Muck Crops Research Station has shown that spores increase two to 72 hours after rainfall with eight hours of leaf wetness to be optimal for the pathogen. Irrigate overnight if possible so by morning the leaves can dry out and you don’t prolong that leaf wetness period.To lower inoculum levels it is crucial to remove or bury cull piles and to bury leaf debris left from the previous year’s crop through deep cultivation. Stemphylium of onion has many hosts including leeks, garlic, asparagus and even European pear. Take the time to rogue out volunteer onions or other Allium species in other crops nearby and remove unnecessary asparagus or pear trees to lower inoculum levels. As with any other foliar disease of onion, it is beneficial to rotate with non-host crops for three years.To prevent the development of resistance, it is essential to always rotate between different fungicide groups and/or tank mix with a broad spectrum insecticide. Current products registered for Stemphylium leaf blight of onion are listed by fungicide group below:Group 7 - SercadisGroup 7/9 - Luna TranquilityGroup 11/3 - Quadris Top
July 25, 2017, Ontario - The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) recently announced the approval of URMULE registrations for Confine Extra fungicide (mono and di-potassium salts of phosphorus acid 53%) for the suppression of bacterial leaf spot (Xanthomonas campestris p.v. vitians) on leaf lettuce in Canada.Where possible, rotate the use of Confine Extra (Group 33) with fungicides that have different modes of actions. Apply at a rate of 7 L/ha in a minimum of 100 L of water/hectare. Use a maximum of 6 foliar applications per growing season. Pre-harvest Interval (PHI) is 1 day.Confine Extra is currently registered for downy mildew of lettuce, endive, radicchio as well as most brassica crops.Follow all other precautions and directions for use on the Confine Extra label carefully.For a copy of the new minor use label visit the PMRA label site: http://pr-rp.hc-sc.gc.ca/ls-re/index-eng.php
The tip-and-pour method, as well as poorly designed pumps, can expose workers to injury and companies to significant financial losses.Every day, handlers and applicators transfer potentially hazardous chemicals and concentrates such as pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and liquid fertilizers from large drums into smaller containers or mixing tanks. This transfer process can have serious consequences if manual “tip-and-pour” techniques or poorly designed pumps are used.Whether the chemicals are toxic, corrosive, or flammable, the danger of accidental contact can pose a severe hazard to workers.In fact, each year 1,800 to 3,000 preventable occupational incidents involving pesticide exposure are reported in the U.S. A closed system of transferring chemicals reduces unnecessary exposures by providing controlled delivery of chemical products without fear of worker exposure, over-pouring, spilling, or releasing vapours.“When handling pesticides, toxicity and corrosiveness are the main dangers, but even organic pesticides can be harmful if there is exposure,” says Kerry Richards, Ph.D., president elect of the American Association of Pesticide Safety Educators and former director of Penn State’s Pesticide Safety Education Program. “No matter what their toxicity level, all chemicals, even those that are organic are a particular contact exposure risk if they are corrosive.”In addition to the potential for injury, there can also be serious financial ramifications for the grower or ag product manufacturing facility if pesticides or liquid chemicals spill.“Beyond workers compensation issues related to exposure, there can be other huge potential liabilities,” Richards says. “This is particularly true if a pesticide gets into a water source, kills fish, or contaminates drinking water.”Richards, who works with the National Pesticide Safety Education Center, has seen and heard many examples of worker and environmental exposure from pesticides during more than 30 years of pesticide safety education experience.“Exposure risk is highest for those loading chemicals into mix tanks because it is more concentrated and hazardous before diluted with water,” she says. “Any time you lose containment of the chemical, such as a spill, the risks can be serious and spiral out of control.”Corrosive chemicals, for example, can severely burn skin or eyes, and many chemical pesticides are toxic when touched or inhaled.“Some organic herbicides are so highly acidic that they essentially burn the waxy cuticle off the above ground parts of plants, killing them,” says Richards. “If you splash it in your eye or on your skin, it can burn in the same way and cause significant damage.”Some chemicals are flammable as well, and if not properly handled and contained, can be ignited by sparking from nearby motors or mechanical equipment. The danger of a fire spreading can be serious both in the field and at ag product manufacturing facilities.In addition to the cost of cleanup or treating injuries, substantial indirect costs can also be incurred. These include supervisors’ time to document the incident and respond to any added government inspection or scrutiny, as well as the potential for slowed grower production or even a temporary shutdown at ag manufacturing plants.“The direct and indirect costs of a pesticide spill or injury can be substantial, not the least of which is the loss of wasted chemicals,” says Richards. “Pesticides, particularly newer concentrated formulations, are very expensive so spilling a few ounces could cost you several hundred dollars in lost product during a single transfer.”Traditional practices of transferring liquid chemicals suffer from a number of drawbacks.Manual techniques, such as the tip-and-pour method, are still common today. Tipping heavy barrels or even 2.5-gallon containers, however, can lead to a loss of control and over pouring.“When manually transferring chemicals from bulk containers, it is very difficult to control heavy drums,” cautions Richards. “I’d advise against it because of the significantly increased risk of exposure or a spill, and the added potential of a back injury or muscle strain.”Although a number of pump types exist for chemical transfer (rotary, siphon, lever-action, piston and electric), most are not engineered as a sealed, contained system. In addition, these pumps can have seals that leak, are known to wear out quickly, and can be difficult to operate, making precise volume control and dispensing difficult.In contrast, closed systems can dramatically improve the safety and efficiency of chemical transfer. California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation, in fact, requires a closed system for mixing and loading for certain pesticides so handlers are not directly exposed to the pesticide.“The availability of new technology that creates a closed or sealed system is ideal for handling pesticides or other dangerous chemicals, and should become a best management practice,” suggests Richards. “With such devices ... pesticide handlers can maintain a controlled containment from one vessel to another and significantly reduce any potential for exposure or spill.”A sealed system delivers liquids to an intermediate measuring device and is useful for low toxicity liquids. A closed system moves the material from point A to point B through hoses using dry-break fittings on the connection points. This prevents leaking and exposure to the handler which helps guarantee safety. Liquids are transferred from the source container, into the measuring system, and then to the mix tank.Small, versatile, hand-operated pressure pumps are engineered to work as a system, which can be either closed or sealed. The pumps can be used for the safe transfer of more than 1,400 industrial chemicals, including the most aggressive pesticides.These pumps function essentially like a beer tap. The operator attaches the pump, presses the plunger several times to build up a low amount of internal pressure, and then dispenses the liquid. The device is configured to provide precise control over the fluid delivery, from slow (1ML/ 1 oz.) up to 4.5-gallons per minute, depending on viscosity.Because such pumps use very low pressure (<6 PSI) to transfer fluids through the line and contain automatic pressure relief valves, they are safe to use with virtually any container from 2-gallon jugs to 55-gallon drums.When Jon DiPiero managed Ricci Vineyards, a small wine grape vineyard in Sonoma, Calif., he sought a safer, more efficient way to transfer pesticides for mixing and spraying that complied with the state’s closed system requirement for certain pesticides.“We had to fill 2.5-gallon containers from a 55-gallon drum,” says DiPiero. “Traditional tipping and pouring from a drum wasn’t going to work due to the potential for spills, splashes, over pouring and chemical exposure, as well as the state mandate for a closed system for some pesticides.”DiPiero turned to GoatThroat Pumps and was happy with the results for a number of reasons.“Because the pump is closed, sealed, and allows containers to remain in an upright position, it complied with state regulation and virtually eliminated the potential for all forms of chemical exposure,” DiPiero says.He adds the air pressure supplied by the hand pump allows the precise flow required into a measuring cylinder.In case of overfill, “the operator can open a valve to release air pressure and the pesticide will backflow into the tank with no cross contamination,” DiPiero says. “This gave us the exact amount we needed so there was no waste.”According to DiPiero, a multi-directional spray attachment also enables rinsing of every corner of the container without having to pour into it and shake it. He says this helps to minimize exposure when cleaning a container for reuse and satisfies California “triple rinsing” requirements.“Whether for pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or liquid fertilizers, a closed and sealed pump design could help with the safe production or mixing of any liquid chemical,” says DiPiero.When Lancaster Farms, a wholesale container plant nursery serving the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions, required a lower pH to adjust its well water for a pesticide spray application, it had to transfer sulfuric acid to buffer the spray water.According to Shawn Jones, Lancaster Farms’ propagation and research manager, the nursery chose to purchase 55-gallon drums of sulfuric acid to raise chemical pH. The drums of chemicals were much more cost effective than multiple 2.5-gallon containers and much easier to recycle. However, Jones was wary of the danger that tipping and pouring acid from the drums would pose, along with pouring bleach and another strong disinfectants for different uses in the propagation area.“We use 40 percent sulfuric acid to buffer our spray water,” Jones says. “Our irrigation water is all recycled from ponds, with the drum storage areas relatively close to our water source, so we wanted to avoid any possibility of accidental spillage.”Previously, the nursery had used siphon pumps to transfer the acid, bleach, and disinfectant, but Jones was dissatisfied with this approach.“None of our siphon pumps lasted more than six months before we had to replace them, and none allowed metering with the kind of precision we required,” he says.Instead, Jones chose to implement several closed, sealed GoatThroat Pumps, along with graduated cylinders for precise measurement.“With the pumps, the drums always remain in an upright position so they won’t tip over accidentally,” Jones says.The one-touch flow control dispenses liquids at a controlled rate.“We get precise measurement into our mix tanks. We use every drop, spill nothing, and waste nothing.”In terms of longevity, Jones’ first sealed pump has already lasted six years and outlasted a dozen previous siphon pumps.“Our GoatThroat Pumps paid for themselves in safety and savings our first growing season, and should last a decade or more with just routine maintenance or repair,” Jones concludes. “Any grower, farmer, or nursery that needs to move or measure dangerous liquids safely and reliably should consider one.”Agricultural chemicals are very expensive, and growers are always looking for ways to decrease the cost of inputs to help increase profits. Sealed systems and closed systems allow for accurate and precise measuring of chemicals, which ensures that you’re using only the amount of product required and not one extra drop.Taking the guesswork out of measuring costly materials, and providing an efficient means of transferring custom blended or dilute products from original containers to mix tanks or back pack sprayers cuts input costs. This keeps expenses to a minimum, with the important bonus of increasing the safety of handlers by reducing the potential exposure to the chemical, which helps increase the bottom line and can assist with regulatory compliance.
July 19, 2017 - In 2016, Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulation Agency (PMRA) completed a re-evaluation of carbaryl, a common chemical thinning regime for Canadian apple producers.The re-evaluation led to some changes and restrictions on the product label. This included eliminating its use in residential areas plus as an insecticide on some fruit and vegetable crops. Apple thinning has remained on the label but at reduced rates: Maximum seasonal rate of 1.5 kg a.i./ha and an REI of 14 days for hand thinning [high-density trellis production such as spindle or super spindle] Maximum seasonal rate of 1.0 kg a.i./ha and an REI of 17 days for hand thinning [dwarf, semi-dwarf and full-sized trees] As a result, research is underway to discover a new thinning regime for Canadian apple producers.Researchers from Cornell Cooperative, CCE Lake Ontario Fruit Program educator and the Lamont Fruit farm conducted a three-year mechanical thinning trial. Watch above for more!
June 16, 2017, Saint John, NB – A honey bee pest, the small hive beetle, Aethina tumida, has been reported in New Brunswick for the first time. It has been found in honey bee colonies imported from Ontario in wild blueberry fields at the following locations: Alnwick (near Brantville) Pont-Lafrance in Gloucester County two locations near Saint-Sauveur (Lord and Foy area) Saint-Isidore All imported colonies and NB colonies in blueberry fields from the areas indicated above are in quarantine until further notice. They are not permitted to be moved within blueberry fields or between blueberry fields. In order to locate NB bee colonies in these areas, DAAF would like NB blueberry growers with fields in these areas to contact department staff and indicate where the NB colonies are located and who they belong to.
June 15, 2017, Guelph, Ont. - It seems like recently there have been a rash of proposed or pending pesticide regulation changes that affect field growers, and tomato growers are no exception. There are re-evaluations ongoing for a number of products used in tomatoes, including mancozeb, neonicotinoids, and Lannate, as well as Ethrel, but the big one that comes to mind for field tomato growers is the proposed changes to the use of chlorothalonil (Bravo, Echo). The final outcome of this review is not yet known, but it’s likely that significant changes to the chlorothalonil labels are coming.Chlorothalonil is a go-to fungicide for tomato growers. Data from trials at Ridgetown Campus demonstrate its value. Chlorothalonil is often just as good at controlling early blight, Septoria leaf spot, and anthracnose fruit rot as alternative fungicides, and it also provides protection from late blight, which many targeted fungicides do not. It’s a good value active ingredient for tomato disease management and has a low risk of resistance development. But, if proposed changes go through, the number of chlorothalonil applications you can use will be drastically cut. READ MORE 
May 17, 2017 - In an effort to educate growers about the use of injectors in chemigation and fertigation agricultural applications, Mazzei has put together a PowerPoint training program.The program is available in both English and Spanish and can be viewed for free through the Mazzei website and the MazzeiSolutions YouTube page.The presentation was designed to help users properly size Mazzei chemigation/fertigation systems for various applications and to better understand the most effective methods.
The post-application risk of carbaryl to workers and growers alike has recently been re-evaluated by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) and some cautionary changes have been made for both low and high-density apple trellis systems.“Rates are not reduced,” assured Amanda Green, tree fruit specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), and apple session moderator at the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Convention (OFVC). “It’s the number of applications per year and total amount applied per year that is reduced.”She explained that growers are now limited to just one carbaryl application per season and they must stay under 1.0 kg of a.i. per hectare for low-density orchards, and 1.5 kg a.i. per hectare for high-density orchards.“This has been quite a challenge,” Green said, adding that three panelists – Charles Stevens of Wilmot Orchards; Zac Farmer of Watson Farms Ltd. and Sean Bartlett with N.M. Bartlett Inc. – had been invited to speak about their thinning experiences and how they plan to manage crop load in the future.Charles StevensStevens opened the panel discussion with a question for the audience.“If you have perfect bloom, perfect set, and you have chemically thinned and left all king blooms – have you over thinned, under thinned or got it just right? How many in this room have over thinned or under thinned?” he asked. Not a single hand was raised. He answered that given 10 per cent of bloom set gives a full crop of apples and you have left 20 per cent of apples on the tree, you have under thinned by 10 per cent.“My wife says it’s like I have PMS for two weeks every year,” Stevens said. “Thinning is one of the most stressful jobs on the farm and makes us moody, grumpy and stressed out.”“I want to touch on three different apples: Honeycrisp, Gala and Ambrosia. Last year, we thinned Honeycrisp in a totally different way. We found out from Michigan, where they did some research, that two doses of NAA [napthaleneacetic acid] by itself at 10 parts per million – one at full bloom and one at petal fall – came out with perfect thinning jobs after performing two trials,” Stevens said.“So, we applied 10 parts per million at full bloom and then it got hot and we got a bit scared. We backed off to 7.5 parts per million at petal fall. Fear is the detriment of thinning. At the end of the day, all fruit buds had very few seconds, or side blooms. If I had to do it over again, I would have gone in again at 10 to 12 mm fruit size with a full dose of Sevin [carbaryl] and 10 parts per million of NAA, resulting in me chemically thinning three times. At the end of the day, Sevin was not used for thinning Honeycrisp last year,” he said.“We used ATS [ammonium thiosulphate] on Honeycrisp last year instead of Sevin as an alternative and had little response. It’s very sensitive to environmental conditions and thus was not an effective alternative,” said Stevens.“The Galas were under thinned again last year. Normally, we do a full dose of Sevin on everything at petal fall but we missed that window. There was too much going on and it got hot, so we didn’t get it on. And, because of the restrictions, we’re not going to do that down the road,” he said.“Sevin is the most important thinning chemistry at this time as the balance of the thinning chemistries perform better when mixed with Sevin. For Galas, we put on a full dose of Sevin, 115 parts per million of 6-BA at 8 to 10 mm fruit size, and we felt we did a good job. But, at the end of the day, we still left too many apples on the trees,” said Stevens.“We will use 6-BA for size enhancement. It’s not strong as a chemical thinner so, without Sevin, it does not do a good job on anything,” he said.“In all my chemical thinning days, Ambrosia is the only crop that I dropped on the ground one year because it was temperature and climate related. I used the same chemistry as the years before and it was cloudy for a couple of days. I sprayed and the next day it was 28 degrees [Celsius]. We dropped all our Ambrosia on the ground. That was probably the only over thinning of apples I have ever done,” said Stevens.“Last year, we did a perfect job on Ambrosia. I feel that the size of the apple at around at least 11 to 12 mm bud size is the time to thin. From my experience, anything earlier and you’ll over thin Ambrosia. We use a full dose of Sevin and about 60 parts per million of 6-BA. So, that’s the story on Ambrosia. It’s a little simpler apple to thin and makes for a beautiful crop,” he said.“In the world of chemistries that are coming along, there are two acids that are in the works and hopefully will be registered for use here in Canada. One is called ACC [1-aminocyclopropane carboxylic acid] and the other is Brevis,” he said. “Both ACC and Brevis are stand alone products that don’t require the use of Sevin and also have a wider range of use, meaning that they can be used on a larger apple.”Zac Farmer“I’m going to touch on the same three apples as Charles: Honeycrisp, Gala and Ambrosia. We were in the same boat as him. In the past, we took the same approach with a Sevin (application) at petal fall early,” said Farmer.“We chose not to do that last year to jump-start our learning curve on living without Sevin, using it just once a season.”On younger Honeycrisp trees, Farmer applied 10 parts per million of NAA, thinning at the 100-gallon rate.“It seemed to work nicely with two applications,” he said. “We live just 10 minutes from Charles and we got the same heat but we didn’t back off on the second application except for two blocks at 5 parts instead of 10 parts per million NAA. We wish we hadn’t. We did less hand thinning last year, and I still wasn't happy with the amount we took off.”“We did some trials with ATS, our second year with it, and we’re running two per cent oil. At full bloom, you’re aiming for the kings. You have to watch the bees to make sure they’re done pollinating or you’ll burn a lot more off than you wanted. We did that on a block of Gala. Not everything got burned but there was a valley in the field where pretty much everything there got smoked due to lack of pollination. It was all sprayed at the same time so it’s very weather and time sensitive,” said Farmer.They also did some trials with lime-sulphur at 1.2 per cent with two per cent oil.“We did it again this year and we’re happy with it. It’s a lot more finicky than ATS so we’re going to do more ATS this year,” he said.“All that stuff we try to do early, then we come back in with a litre of Sevin or two litres of MaxCel, plus one or two per cent oil. If we’re limited on the Sevin, we’re going to have to do more with the NAA and those new thinners once they come along,” said Farmer.“On Ambrosia, we’ve never used a lot of Sevin. We do thin a little bit earlier than Charles but usually one litre of MaxCel is enough, or a half litre of Sevin on the really heavy stuff. They seem to respond really well to that. I think Ambrosia is very manageable with one application of Sevin, it’s Gala that’s a really hard one.”Last year, Watson Farms Ltd. had a drought so thinned hard on the Gala. The variety never did size and part of that was due to lack of moisture.“On older trees, we did some side by side trials with Gala and Honeycrisp with two per cent ATS versus 10 parts NAA at full bloom, and there was a noticeable difference between the two.”“If you hit that ATS on the nose, it thins as fast as you can walk by the tree. We’re very happy with that. I’m not saying that’s what we’ll rely on as it’s very weather sensitive but we’ll keep working on it and fine tuning it so we can knock those fruit off at early bloom,” concluded Farmer.Sean Bartlett“I just want to touch on some of the different things guys across the province are doing for apple thinning,” said Bartlett.“Ultimately we are doing more and more to get down to the promised land for fruit per tree to create the best returns at the end of the day. With this, we have started to follow many precision thinning tools to do this, including pruning models, carbohydrate model, and pollen growth tube model, to name a few. With these models in mind, we have started thinning at different timings and more often lending itself to the nibble thinning approach,” he said.“We’re also having to re-invent old chemistry using bloom thinners, like lime sulphur and oil, and ATS and NAA. Of course, we’re looking for some new chemistries down the road, like Brevis and ACC. We have also started reaching out to other non-chemical alternatives, such as mechanical thinning,” said Bartlett.“Mechanical thinning is popular in Europe where over 600 of the Darwin Blossom Thinners are in use in pome and stone fruit orchards. These are popular in peaches in North America but slow to take hold in apples, perhaps because there are some great thinning products available there,” he said.“A three-year study by Cornell University found that it was possible to replace a conventional thinning program with mechanical thinning. In the study, they compared a comprehensive thinning program with NAA, 6BA and Sevin to mechanically thinning with a follow up of 6BA. In the end, they were able to perform comparably with the standard on Honeycrisp and Gala,” said Bartlett.“The important factors in this were the correct spindle speed, depth, and speed of the tractor. It took them a few attempts to perfect the thinning response. It will be different for most blocks as canopies are never the same,” he said.“What we have learned is more strings are better, and the deeper into the canopy they can get is also better. Hedged rows are optimal and 6BA has a synergistic affect with the use of mechanical thinners. Thus far, the work has not shown to cause fire blight but, if in doubt or a troubled block, I would recommend following up with a strep.”“Do your own trials and keep good records. Research is proving that mechanical blossom thinning is a viable option,” he concluded.
Days may be numbered for carbaryl, an insecticide and apple-thinning agent commonly sold under the brand name Sevin by Bayer.Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulation Agency (PMRA) completed a re-evaluation of carbaryl in 2016, which led to some changes and restrictions on the product label. This included eliminating its use in residential areas plus as an insecticide on some fruit and vegetable crops. Apple thinning has remained on the label but at reduced rates: Maximum seasonal rate of 1.5 kg a.i./ha and an REI of 14 days for hand thinning [high-density trellis production such as spindle or super spindle] Maximum seasonal rate of 1.0 kg a.i./ha and an REI of 17 days for hand thinning [dwarf, semi-dwarf and full-sized trees] As a result, research is underway to discover a new thinning regime for Canadian apple producers.“We’re restricted to one application per season with further restrictions on re-entry into the orchard,” explained Dr. John Cline, apple researcher and associate professor at the University of Guelph. “We’re looking for an alternative that works as well as carbaryl.”He recently shared the initial findings of his work, which he undertook with the assistance of graduate student Michelle Arsenault, during the Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Convention held in Niagara Falls, Ont.“Apple thinning is something done to prevent over cropping and small fruit,” said Dr. Cline. “When we thin early, we are able to focus more energy resources into the fruit that persist until harvest. When you have larger fruit, harvest efficiencies increase dramatically.”Hand thinning is the least desirable way of managing crop load because it has the least effect on return bloom and final size at harvest but it is still an option. It also requires a large labour requirement.“We rely on bio-regulators or chemical thinners as a result,” Dr. Cline said. “We have to remember that fruit drop in early June is a natural process. The tree goes through this process naturally and the bio-regulators are meant to augment it.”There are a number of bio-regulators registered and these affect the plant metabolism and add to the natural process of fruit drop. The registered products in Canada are Sevin XLR Plus [carbaryl], MaxCel [6BA] and Fruitone [NAA]. The industry is hopeful some alternatives will become available. One product registered in the U.S. is Ethephon or Ethrel, which involves ethylene needed for fruit drop.Dr. Cline’s research team’s objectives were to determine the optimal concentration of new and existing plant bio-regulators for the thinning of Gala during fruit set. Doing an early spray followed by a second spray was the focus of their work plus what thinners perform the best, and what the final crop load, yield and final size would be.The first experiment was done on Gala using a hand-thinned control plot and compared to carbaryl and 6BA/MaxCel sprays.Late frost in 2015 forced the researchers to find another orchard where they applied thinners at the 17 mm stage. The treatment was thought to be ineffective because it was conceivably applied too late. Compared with 2014, they found fruit set was 40 per cent, considered too high for a commercial crop, and 2015 was slightly less than that.“In 2014, we found that 6BA tank mixed with NAA reduced fruit set by 50 per cent, whereas the ACC compound did not work at all,” Dr. Cline said. “In 2015, 6BA tank mixed with 5ABA and ACC reduced fruit set to a level comparable with carbaryl.”The crop load at harvest was reduced with thinners in 2015, explained Dr. Cline. The hand thinned was just under three fruits per trunk cross-sectional area while the target was about five to seven, so crop load was light so the trees probably didn’t need the aggressive thinning that might be needed in a heavy crop year.The researchers tried high and medium rates with the thinners and found a reduction in yield but no effect on quality factors, such as sugars, titratable acidity, starch index and fruit firmness.Conclusions on the two-year study suggest that at low rates, the ethylene precursors were effective the one year. However, crop loads were light in both years of the study and response could change with a heavier crop. Dr. Cline said the study needs to be repeated over several years to get a more definite answer.ACC and 5ABA appear to be effective alternatives for Gala if carbaryl is removed from registration, he added.“I think the results are encouraging.”In a study working with Gala conducted over 2013 and 2014 – before the concern with carbaryl came up – researchers wanted to know if growers applied the first thinning spray at 8 mm, what happened when the second spray was applied? This was a concern for growers who wanted to know if they should go in with a second spray and, if so, what should they use.In 2013, researchers used a standard rate of carbaryl, as recommended for Gala, and applied at 8 mm, then again with a second spray in seven days, near the closing of the window for thinning. It seemed to work, Dr. Cline said, adding carbaryl did reduce fruit set.“A tank mix of 6BA and carbaryl applied at 8 mm followed by carbaryl at 15 mm thinned the most.”Fruit size, for the untreated, was around 140 grams. In 2013, 6BA followed by a carbaryl spray produced the largest fruit size.“Yields always go down when you thin but hopefully you are compensated by the higher price of the fewer but larger fruits,” Dr. Cline said.“To summarize, 12 to 14 days was required from the time of the first spray to initiate fruit drop. A single application at 8 mm, applied separately or tank mixed, of 6BA and carbaryl was the most effective.”When it comes to future research, new thinning techniques and mechanical blossom thinning are on the list to be examined. According to the industry, string thinners are more effective now with the movement toward high-density, spindle-type orchards. New products, such as Metamitron – a herbicide registered in the EU and U.S. – are also of interest.“We will ... be looking at that,” Dr. Cline said.
May 5, 2017, Montreal, Que. - Inocucor Technologies Inc. of Montreal signed an agreement with Axter Agroscience Inc., one of Canada's leading providers and distributors of foliar feeding crop solutions, to distribute Inocucor's biological crop input Synergro™ in Canada.Under the agreement, Axter will also have certain prime-mover rights to rapidly develop the market in Quebec and Ontario.Synergro™ is a live-cell formulation for high-value produce, such as strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce and broccoli.This state-of-the-art biological product, approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in December 2016, is among the first microbial products registered in Canada.It is also a Pro-Cert Approved Input for use in organic growing in Canada.Inocucor uses a patented fermentation process to combine multi-strains of bacteria and yeasts into powerful soil and plant optimizers that are safe for people and the environment.Synergro will be available through Axter's well-established distribution network in all the Canadian provinces.For more information, visit www.inocucor.com, www.axter.ca
April 17, 2017, Guelph, Ont – The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) recently announced the approval of an URMULE registration for Prowl H2O herbicide for control of labeled weeds on direct seeded, green (bunching) onions grown on muck soil in eastern Canada and British Columbia. Prowl H2O herbicide was already labeled for use on a number of crops in Canada for control of weeds. The minor use project for green onions grown on muck soil was sponsored by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Pest Management Centre (AAFC-PMC) 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. Follow all precautions and detailed 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 http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/pest/registrant-titulaire/tools-outils/label-etiq-eng.php .
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 www.velocityfundfinals.com
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.
July 11, 2017, Waterloo, Ont. – Good lighting can do more than illuminate your salad. It can actually tell you the quality of those soon-to-be ingested leafy greens.With the right technology, light can be used to measure the quality of food in real-time. When it comes to food processing, that can help make for more efficient and less wasteful production systems.With funding through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), Waterloo’s P & P Optica has patented a system allowing them to incorporate hyperspectral imaging technology into a fast-paced, food processing environment.“We developed what we call PPO Smart Imaging, which is a process that uses light to analyze the chemical makeup of a specific food product,” said Kevin Turnbull, Vice President of Sales for P & P Optica.“The science lets us see what products make the grade, and which ones don’t. Incorporating it into a food production system can help processors improve their grading and sorting efficiency,” he said.Hyperspectral imaging (also called chemical imaging) involves illuminating an object with bright light. Special cameras pick up hundreds of different colour variations as the object passes under the light – conventional consumer cameras work at a much, much lower level – and generate data from those colours. In turn, that data indicates what the object is made out of and what quality the material is.Turnbull and his colleagues are now working with local spinach processor Ippolito Produce Ltd. and Conestoga College to operationalize their technology in a working environment. Similar technology has been used by P & P Optica in recycling and in the biomedical field, but this is the first time it has been brought to the food world.A major benefit, according to Turnbull, is significantly reducing food waste.“Hand-sorting is either ineffective or impractical, so processors often use limited technologies like primitive vision, X-ray or metal detectors,” he said. “Still, waste and foreign material contamination persists, sending good food to the waste pile and potentially allowing foreign materials to reach the consumer. Our system will address that.”While Turnbull does not yet know the exact impact his company’s method will have, he said they are anticipating “significant waste reduction.”“Even if only 25 per cent less spinach is thrown out, that will translate to hundreds of thousands of dollars every year,” he said.The prototype from P & P Optica was just recently installed at the Ippolito plant in Burlington. Now the companies are working closely to actively test and fine-tune the system.According to Turnbull, the goal is to improve the system so it can be can be brought to other food processors – including companies managing meat and animal-based products – as a workable solution for inline food grading and safety.While the field test is not slated to finish until later in the year, Turnbull said they have already seen growing interest in the technology.“Riga Farms, which is a carrot producer from the Holland Marsh, and Earth Fresh Foods, a Burlington-potato company, are also partners in the project. When we applied to Growing Forward 2, they jumped onboard and made their own investment contributions,” he said. “They have enthusiastically supported this project from the beginning.”
July 7, 2017, Mississauga, Ont. – Canada’s food and beverage processing industry is an important driver of economic growth in Canada. The Government of Canada continues to support the innovation and competitiveness of the food and beverage sector, so that it can create better job opportunities for Canadians and add value to our agricultural sector.Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Member of Parliament for Mississauga–Malton, Navdeep Bains and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lawrence MacAulay, announced today an investment of up to $6.3 million to the Greenhouse Juice Company to invest in new-to-Canada, cold pasteurization technologies to help increase the shelf life of its organic juices, while maintaining the nutrition and freshness of its products.“Our food and beverage processing industry must stay on the cutting edge through investments in innovation, to succeed in today’s marketplace. Investments such as this one will help grow Canadian agri-businesses and expand their markets, while strengthening the middle class,” said Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.This investment enables Greenhouse Juice to expand into their new Mississauga facility, generating hundreds of job opportunities in the region. With the facility expansion and the adoption of the cold-pasteurization technology, Greenhouse Juice will purchase significantly more Canadian-grown fruits and vegetables, and produce juice for both Canadian and international markets."As a young company on an ambitious mission—to offer widespread, sustainable access to plant-based nutrition of the highest quality—we at Greenhouse could not be more grateful for this opportunity bestowed by Minister MacAulay, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Government of Canada. The AgriInnovation Program is making it possible for us to integrate innovative technologies from Canada and around the world to create a novel process that will allow us to grow without in any way compromising the quality or sustainability of our products. In so doing we will create hundreds of new jobs; increase the amount of organic, local produce we purchase by 10 fold over the next four years; and follow through on our mission of contributing to a healthier nation,” said Anthony Green, Co-founder and CEO, Greenhouse Juice Co.
July 5, 2017, Langley, B.C. – Approximately 2,000 wildfires occur each year in British Columbia. The effect of wildfires on the province’s agriculture community can be devastating and costly.More than half of the wildfires in 2016 were caused by humans.With the wildfire season upon on us in B.C., there are measures that ranchers, farmers, growers, and others who make their living in agriculture can do to protect their workers and their property. Addressing potential fire hazards will significantly reduce the chances of a large-scale fire affecting your operation.Controlling the environment is important. Clear vegetation and wood debris to at least 10 metres from fences and structures; collect and remove generated wastes whether it is solid, semi-solid, or liquid; and reduce the timber fuel load elsewhere on your property and Crown or lease land to help mitigate the risk.In the case that you have to address fire on your property, have a well-rehearsed Emergency Response Plan (ERP) in place. The ERP should also include an Evacuation Plan for workers and livestock.“Having a map of your property, including Crown and lease lands, and a list of all of your workers and their locations is extremely helpful for evacuation and useful for first responders,” says Wendy Bennett, Executive Director of AgSafe. A list of materials and a safety data sheet of all liquid and spray chemicals and their locations should also be made available to attending firefighters.Bennett suggests checking the Government of BC Wildfire Status website regularly to report or monitor the status of fires in your area.For over twenty years AgSafe has been the expert on safety in the workplace for British Columbia’s agriculture industry and is committed to reducing the number of agriculture-related workplace deaths and injuries by offering health and safety programs, training, evaluation and consultation services.For more information about agriculture workplace safety or AgSafe services call 1-877-533-1789 or visit www.AgSafeBC.ca.
June 13, 2017, Tampa, FL – Harvest CROO Robotics announced the introduction of their autonomous vehicle. This is a major step towards the completion of the Alpha Unit, which is expected to be picking strawberries in Florida next winter.As part of Phase I of the National Science Foundation Grant, Harvest CROO Robotics is developing software and hardware tools. They include the vehicle’s GPS navigation system, LIDAR technology, and other camera and sensor features.The mobile platform is a modified version of a Colby Harvest Pro Machine. With four-wheel steering, turning movement will be smooth and precise, providing a zero turning radius for greater maneuverability than a standard tractor. Special levelling hardware and software has been developed and added to allow the vehicle to compensate for varying bed heights.The vehicle will carry 16 picking robots through the field and span 6 beds of plants, picking the four middle beds. The Harvest CROO machine is equipped with a dual GPS system. The Harvester uses both GPS systems to interpolate the position of the platform to be able to position the robots precisely over the plants.“Having the machine navigate the fields autonomously is the culmination of years of work and prototyping,” said Bob Pitzer, Co-Founder and CTO of Harvest CROO. “It is very gratifying to see our team effort come to fruition.”Harvest CROO Robotics continues to develop and test the latest technology for agricultural robotics. Using the proprietary vision system, all ripe berries will be harvested from the plants. The fruit will then be transferred up to the platform level of the machine using a series of conveyers. There, the packing module of the machine will perform a secondary inspection and grade the fruit. Depending on quality, it will either be packed into consumer units, diverted to process trays, or discarded. The use of this technology will improve the quality of the berries picked, reduce energy usage, and increase strawberry yields.In December, the National Science Foundation awarded a grant worth up to $1 million. Harvest CROO Robotics used part of these funds to bring several highly qualified and experienced individuals on board the project. Scott Jantz, Electrical Engineering Manager, said, “We all feel like we are part of something special.”While fundraising for the project has been ongoing, the current investment round will likely be closed at the end of July, when field testing of the vehicle is completed. “We will possibly open a new investment round early next year, at a higher valuation.”, stated Gary Wishnatzki, Co-Founder. “The new unit price will reflect the successful deployment of the Alpha Unit, a key milestone.”
June 6, 2017, Charlottetown, PEI – As potato growers across P.E.I. plant this year's crop, many are using the latest GPS technology to guide them. "I'd say probably 80 per cent of growers out there would have something like this," said Will MacNeill, owner of Atlantic Precision Agri-Services, in West Devon, P.E.I. READ MORE
June 6, 2017, Kingston Ont – Farming is a complex business, and keeping track of everything can sometimes be troublesome, if not a bit overwhelming. With this in mind, Kingston-based software company Dragonfly IT developed Croptracker – a multi-faceted, cloud-based monitoring system designed to give fruit and vegetable growers real-time updates on their businesses. “Croptracker offers an easy-to-use software package that monitors growing practices throughout the season,” said Matthew Deir, company founder. “Growers sign up for our system and can access all of their daily inputs from one central hub. It helps both traceability and cost saving.” Croptracker highlights three key areas relevant to growers’ economic, environmental, and social sustainability, with food traceability taking the top spot, followed by operational costs and yield analysis. The software itself is a consolidation of similar systems previously developed by Deir’s company, including Fruit Tracker, Apple Tracker, and Nursery Tracker. By combining these and several other systems, he says, Dragonfly IT has tried to make the software useful for all growers of all kinds. He also emphasized that Croptracker is “literally grower-built,” being the result of “thousands of hours meeting with growers and learning what their needs were.” The Croptracker cloud system allows growers to map how their crop is produced – what time it was planted, what inputs went into it, and so on – as well as where it came from. According to Deir, the software can literally trace each basket of product back to the field from which it was harvested, and potentially, even the person who harvested it. Croptracker can also be used as a human resources interface, helping keep track of employee time and activity. There’s even a “punch clock” feature that can show growers who is doing what, for how long, and when. By being able to see how long it takes to perform different tasks, Deir said farmers can pinpoint where their costs are coming from, and if necessary, investigate why. At the end of the growing season, the Croptracker system can also help monitor how good – or bad – the harvest was at different times and from different parts of the farm. Giving an opportunity for contrast and comparison, Deir said, means growers can further distil the potential sources of any yield discrepancy they might encounter. Approximately 1,000 farmers currently have access to the software for free (their producer associations buy the rights on their behalf), but individual growers can still access Croptracker on a pay-per-package basis. And it’s not just Ontario farmers who can use the service either; growers producing more exotic fruits in places far afield have also shown interest – most recently, for example, a New Zealand avocado grower. “I never thought about [the software] working for that kind of crop, but the farmer definitely thought otherwise,” Deir said.
October 19, 2017, Erinsville, Ont – Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau is climbing down from another controversial tax proposal to address the concerns of farmers and fishers. Morneau made the announcement at a farm alongside Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay in Erinsville, Ont., about halfway between Toronto and Ottawa, and three area Liberal MPs. Morneau said the government is abandoning the proposed tax reform that would have restricted the conversion of income into capital gains. READ MORE  
October 19, 2017 – Bayer’s Vegetable Seed Division is introducing a new watermelon concept. The solid dark green “Emerald” type watermelon may be new to some in the industry, but varieties in the product line have been successful over the last few years, explains Kike Rossell, a regional watermelon product specialist with Bayer. “The Emerald type varieties have been grown commercially throughout the North and Central America watermelon production regions over the last three to four years. They have proven to be consistent varieties from an agronomic standpoint while also providing high brix, excellent flavour, and a firm, crisp texture.” Growers and shippers agree the “Emerald” work extremely well as the dark green rind makes it stand out from other watermelon varieties. “I’ve had customers request them,” said Greg Leger of Leger & Sons, a Georgia-based watermelon grower/shipper that has grown and sold the Emerald type for the last few seasons. The Emerald type line offers varieties for the fresh and processing markets with 60, 45, and 36 count offerings and a dark red firm-flesh that is desirable for processors. “After the success we’ve seen the last few years, we knew it was time to promote the Emerald type in a big way to the industry,” says Rossell. “We are excited about the potential of the varieties for our customers.”
October 16, 2017, Vancouver, BC – Five small B.C. wineries have been granted permission to bring their concerns to the Supreme Court of Canada in the interprovincial shipping of liquor case R. v. Comeau. The Supreme Court will hear the case in early December 2017. R. v. Comeau is the first court case in which any winery in Canada has had an opportunity to address the legal barriers to interprovincial shipping of wine made from Canadian grown grapes. Curtis Krouzel (50th Parallel Estate), Ian MacDonald (Liquidity Wines), Jim D'Andrea (Noble Ridge Vineyard and Winery), Christine Coletta (Okanagan Crush Pad Winery), and John Skinner (Painted Rock Estate Winery) each own and operate vineyards and wineries that produce wine exclusively using 100 per cent B.C. grown grapes. These five producers head a coalition of more than 100 small wineries from British Columbia who seek to change the law governing interprovincial shipping of wine and liquor across Canada. As such, the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Comeau will determine the fate of the B.C. wine industry for decades to come. “The Supreme Court of Canada will hear from the two parties to the appeal (the New Brunswick Crown and Mr. Comeau) as well as a couple dozen other ‘interveners’ at the hearing on December 6 and 7, 2017,” explained Shea Coulson, counsel for the five winery owners. “After the hearing, the court could take up to a year to make its decision." Coulson's aim is to inform the court about the alleged negative impact on small B.C. wineries created by interprovincial barriers that prohibit shipment of wine to Canadians across the country. “The court has to balance many complex interests, but my clients will argue that it is possible to incrementally change the law to permit interprovincial shipments of Canadian wine, and why it is of fundamental importance to the future survival of the industry to remove these barriers,” he said. Whichever way the court decides, R. v. Comeau will have a monumental effect on the Canadian liquor industry and addresses questions at the heart of Canada's federalist constitution.
October 13, 2017, St. Catharines, Ont – Grape harvest is in full swing in Ontario, and the Grape Growers of Ontario (GGO) welcomed the opportunity to meet with Premier Kathleen Wynne in the vineyards of grape grower Bill George in Beamsville, Ont. The Premier had a birds-eye view of the vineyards from the seat of a harvester. The harvest is at the mid-point with white varieties such as Riesling and Chardonnay typically harvested early in the season followed by the later maturing red varieties. While the rain has slowed down harvest this week, the return to warm and dry weather is expected over the next week. The Grape Growers of Ontario were pleased to have the opportunity to meet with the Premier to discuss topics of importance to grape growers and hear first-hand about issues that are impacting farm families. The planned increase in minimum wage is one of the key issues for growers. “While we appreciate the intent behind the increase in minimum wage to improve the livelihood of minimum wage earners, we explained clearly the impact that it will have on farm families, and are pleased that the Premier understands our issues”, said Matthias Oppenlaender, chair of the GGO. “Normal labour costs for horticulture farms are about 65 per cent of operating earnings, making it the highest on-farm expense,” added Bill George, vice chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association. “The increase announced for next year can push labour costs to as much as 90 per cent of operating earnings.” There is a very real need for financial assistance to transition to the higher minimum wage to protect family farms, as well as support for local VQA wine made of 100 per cent Ontario grown grapes to ensure a market for the fruits of their labour.
October 10, 2017, Toronto, Ont – Vive Crop Protection recently announced that company CEO, Keith Thomas, has been elected to CropLife America’s board of directors for a three-year term. “I am excited to contribute to CropLife America’s mission supporting modern agriculture,” said Thomas. “We are relatively new to the U.S. crop protection industry, but we’ve had a big impact. Our election to the CropLife America board recognizes our commitment to the industry. We plan to be here for the long-term.” “We look forward to the business experience and academic perspective Keith brings to the CLA board,” said Jay Vroom, CropLife America’s CEO. “These qualities, combined with his interest in the role the industry plays in sustainability aligned with our technology innovation, makes him a great addition to the main governance body of CropLife.” “Innovation is incredibly important to farmers today,” he added. “Using new technologies we can improve sustainability, productivity, and crop quality. As an innovative, technology-based company, we are proud to be part of this industry.” Thomas is also a governor of the University of Toronto and is the chair of its Business Board.
October 6, 2017 – The Grand Falls and Florenceville-Bristol, NB, growers banquets were held in August 2017 to recognized the top grower partners of McCain. Les Fermes LP Thériault & Fils of Drummond was named the 2016-2017 McCain Champion Potato Grower for Grand Falls during the 43rd annual McCain Growers’ Banquet held August 22 at Centre E.& P. Sénéchal. Lakeside Farms of Greenfield was named the 2016-2017 McCain Champion Potato Grower for Florenceville-Bristol, NB, during the 44th Annual McCain Growers’ Banquet held August 23 at the Northern Carleton Civic Centre. Allison McCain, chairman of McCain Foods Limited, Shai Altman, president of McCain Foods Canada, and Christine Wentworth, VP of agriculture NA extended personal congratulations to Lakeside Farms, and Les Fermes LP Thériault & Fils as well as all of the McCain growers. McCain expressed the importance of New Brunswick agriculture and the need to continuously be innovative in farming practices. “Early adoption of farm practice innovations is essential to ensuring New Brunswick growers and McCain can compete in global markets,” she said. Wentworth thanked the growers for their “loyalty, dedication and contribution to McCain over the last 60 years” and wished them a safe and bountiful harvest, while Altman reiterated that the company’s partnership with the growers is critical for the business.  “McCain is a proud Canadian company,” he said, “and you all have a part to play in that.  We look forward to a bright future ahead.” ​Marc Thériault of Les Fermes LP Thériault & Fils of Drummond was thrilled to be announced as the Champion Grower. The Thériault family has been contracting with McCain for 44 years, has been in the Top 10 17 times, and this was their second time winning the Champion Grower title. “It’s a great feeling and makes me feel appreciated for all the hard work that I’ve given,” said Marc. “It takes dedication, hard work, employees that care and, of course, some good luck too.” Arthur Tweedie – with sons Peter, Paul and grandson Matthew – of Lakeside Farms was surprised and delighted to be announced as the Champion Grower. The Tweedie family is only one of two grower families that have been providing potatoes to McCain since the company started 60 years ago, in 1957. They have been in the Top Ten eight times and this is their second time claiming the Champion title. When asked what it took to achieve the first place standing, Peter said “following advice from McCain agronomists and talking to other growers about best practices was really helpful, but a lot of it was just good luck and help from Mother Nature.” Other growers who qualified for the top 10 Florenceville-Bristol roster, in order of final standing were: Kilpatrick Farms (Brian Kilpatrick with son, Jared – Greenfield) Valley Farms Ltd. Florenceville (Under management of Jeff Miller and Colton Rennie) G and C Culberson Inc. (Cory Culberson with father, Gerald - Jacksonville) B and C Young Farms Ltd. (Blair Young with son, Chad - Bedell) Herb Culberson Farms Ltd. (Herb Culberson – Jacksonville) Double B Farms Ltd. (Dana Bubar with son, Aaron – Hartland) Meduxnekeag Farms Ltd. (Daniel Metherell – Jackson Falls) R H McLean Farms Inc. (Randy McLean with son, Jason – Maplehurst) Wilmot Farms (Kevin Taylor – Lakeville) The other growers who qualified for the top 10 Grand Falls roster, in order of final standing were: Ed & Dan Levesque (Edmund & Daniel Levesque with sons Eric and Denis – Saint-André) Northwest Potato Farms (Michel & Lise Levesque and son Marc – Saint-André) Desjardins Farms (Denis and René Desjardins – Drummond) Eagle Farms (Gilles Godbout and his son, Mathieu – Saint-André) Ferme GIL Roberge (Guildor Roberge and his son Luc – Saint-André) Super Farms Potatoes (Jean-Guy, Jules, Luc & Andre Levesque – Saint-André) Les Fermes Poitras (Rock Poitras and his son, Luc – Saint-André) Andre Daigle Farms (Andre Daigle and his son Mathieu – St-Leonard) Les Fermes Mario Levesque (Mario and André Levesque – Saint-André)
October 4, 2017, Vancouver, BC – As dairy products, Bombardier aircraft and softwood lumber continue to bedevil trade relations between Canada and the U.S., negotiators will have to add wine to their list of issues to resolve. The U.S. has filed a second complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over what it perceives as B.C.’s unfair rules regarding wine sales in the province’s grocery stores, according to a release from the WTO. READ MORE
October 3, 2017, Kingston, Ont – Employee labour tracking, cloud based data, and the need for a future of digital food safety documentation were each important aspects when the Ontario Berry Growers Association (OBGA) decided to provide its growers with a high level traceability software, Croptracker. For the OBGA, the software selection of is the result of the Croptracker team working diligently with Ontario berry growers for the past year to learn and develop berry crop processes and strategies. The most important and beneficial feature berry growers needed was the capability of developing, calculating, and tracking piecework harvest. This allows for growers to track individual employee labour and payout calculations while managing and adjusting piecework rates. With successful implementation, the association saw the opportunity to opt into Croptracker, not only for their food safety and audits, but also for their labour tracking. “Croptracker is a very intuitive program that provides growers with food safety traceability and so much more,” said Kevin Schooley, executive director of the OBGA. “I encourage all berry growers to take advantage of the opportunity to work with this software. It is an Ontario product that understands the needs of growers.” Croptracker is currently free to all OBGA members.
September 20, 2017, Calgary, Alta – New research released recently by the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI) shows that an increasing number of Canadians feel the food system is headed in the right direction. According to the study, which examined consumer concerns and expectations surrounding food transparency and the overall food system, showed an increase in the number of Canadians who believe the food system is headed in the right direction from 30 per cent in 2016 to 43 per cent this year. While consumer confidence is increasing, an equal number of Canadians (43 per cent) say they aren’t sure if the food system is on the right track, down from 50 per cent in 2016. These findings are significantly different than the American consumers’ findings from 2016, which showed more definitive opinions with 55 per cent choosing right direction and only 23 per cent saying they were unsure. The 2017 CCFI Public Trust Research occurred in-the-field in June, asking 1307 Canadians about top life concerns, specifically their level of concern, trust and transparency expectations related to food and how it’s grown. Those polled clearly identified food companies to be the most responsible for providing information about food and how it’s grown. Other food system partners including farmers, government, restaurants and grocery stores also ranked highly as being responsible for transparency. “Canadians are looking for credible information to make informed decisions about their food,” stated Crystal Mackay, president of CCFI. “This research reinforces that everyone in the Canadian food system, from the farm through to grocery stores and restaurants, should engage in conversations about food.” Those polled are personally concerned and want more information about specific topics, including food safety, environment and farm animal treatment. Consumers are looking for information on food company websites such as third party audits, track record, practices and policies that demonstrate their values. When studying these elements of transparency, accuracy rose to the top as the most important attribute to Canadians. Many Canadians are unsure about their food or how it’s grown, but want to learn more. Canadians ranked the rising cost of food and keeping healthy food affordable as their top two life concerns above rising energy costs, healthcare and the economy for the second year in a row. These findings and other insights are key areas for discussion when leaders from across the entire Canadian food system meet at the CCFI Public Trust Summit in Calgary. Find out more by reading the full 2017 CCFI Public Trust Research report on www.foodintegrity.ca.
September 20, 2017, Old Chelsea, QC – The Government of Canada is committed to working with the agricultural industry in developing new risk management assessments and tools that help farmers manage risk. The federal government recently announced a $461,816 investment for the Canadian Organic Growers. This funding will be used to conduct a study of the risks involved in transitioning from conventional production to organic production. This first-of-a-kind study will reach out to organic producers across the country, as well as others in the sector. The data collected will be used to identify techniques that farmers can use to help reduce risk and manage their shift to organic production. “More than ever, Canadians are looking to purchase organic products grown and made in Canada; however supply is not keeping pace at home or abroad,” said Rochelle Eisen, president of Canadian Organic Growers. “There is a growing environmental and economic case for transitioning to organic agriculture in Canada and by enhancing our knowledge on the subject, we can develop effective tools, programs, and policies that can better support a farmer’s journey to sustainable, organic production.”
September 15, 2017, Wallaceburg, Ont – Survey results from more than 100 processing vegetable growers confirm overwhelming support for the grassroots representation of a provincial board. The Processing Vegetable Growers’ Alliance (PVGA) conducted an online grower and industry survey in August 2017 to gauge interest and support of various activities and actions of a provincial board. “The survey responses from growers support everything [PVGA] has been pushing for – a return to a fully grower elected board with the authority to negotiate prices, terms, conditions and contracts for Ontario’s processing vegetable growers,” says Francis Dobbelaar, chair of the PVGA. “Our findings support our serious concerns about why the government and [Ontario] Farm Products Marketing Commission have taken the steps that they have to disrupt our entire processing vegetable sector when it is not the wishes of most growers.” Growers ranked the importance of issues on a scale of zero (not important) to 100 (very important) on the structure and role of the processing vegetable growers association. On the issue of having a say in the representatives that negotiate contracts on their behalf, the average grower answer was 92 on the scale of importance. Additional results indicate support for a fully elected grower Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers (OPVG) board that negotiates contracts with processors – both issues receiving an average response of 90 on importance (out of a possible score of 100). “The survey results are very clear – the vast majority of growers want a grassroots, grower elected board and want their contracts negotiated by those board members they elected,” says Dobbelaar, who also points out another survey ranking of 86 on the importance of the OPVG chair be elected by the board. “This is the first time anyone has asked Ontario growers how they want to be represented since the OPVG board was dismantled.” A further 44 processing vegetable growers signed a petition in a show of support for the work of the PVGA “to maintain our representation of a fully elected OPVG board/chair, and further the industry through the continuance of an Advisory Committee with all willing stakeholders at the table.” The PVGA formed in March 2017 when the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission removed the OPVG board and senior staff, taking away the growers’ ability to choose the representatives who negotiate contracts with processors on their behalf. The PVGA represents farmers who grow 14 different types of processing vegetables in Ontario. Visit PVGAlliance.org for more information about the Processing Vegetable Growers’ Alliance.
September 15, 2017, Ottawa, Ont – The Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI) and the Canada Institute of the Wilson Center are pleased to co-publish a short piece on approaches to food safety cooperation in Canada and the United States. With NAFTA renegotiation talks in full swing, it is a critical time for a conversation on protecting and improving our shared food supply chain. As think tanks and think networks, CAPI and the Wilson Center know the importance of good debate and a robust marketplace for ideas. This short piece, written by Rory McAlpine and Mike Robach, encourages just such debate. "The contents of the piece represent an opportunity for our two organizations to present to our respective stakeholders on the frontlines of Canada-US economic policy some new thinking on important food safety issues", said Don Buckingham, president and CEO of CAPI. "Food safety is not just about consumer protection, it's about enhancing the competitiveness of the Canada-U.S. agri-food supply chain around the world. A well-functioning food safety regime helps to increase global demand for safe and wholesome North American food products." "During a period of trade upheaval and fractured supply chains, it is particularly important to bring practical suggestions to the table that will build trade, increase competitiveness and safeguard the protection of consumers," added Laura Dawson, director of the Canada Institute of the Wilson Center. The short piece is available here.

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