December 12, 2017, State College, PA – Unmanned aircraft (UA) – commonly called drones – are a new technology that can quickly collect, quantify, and record a variety of important data about orchards that many growers inherently measure by eye. Simple examples include location of nonproductive trees, quantity of blossoms in the spring, stress on trees in the summer, and crop load in the fall. To this end, the State Horticultural Association of Pennsylvania (SHAP) is supporting an initiative by Joe Sommer and Rob Crassweller at Penn State University to help growers use UA for orchard management. While single images and/or videos captured during manually controlled flight can be useful, this project focused on flying autonomous missions to capture hundreds of images that can be stitched together into a much larger orthomosaic map of a block of trees or even a small orchard. For example, a DJI Phantom 4 quadcopter ($1,500) can inspect 60 acres over 15 minutes flight time at 200 feet above ground level (AGL) and reconstruct a large orthomosaic map of an orchard with one-inch per pixel resolution. Efforts during the first year developed a user manual for mission planning and orthomosaic stitching of images as well as geo-referencing (locating latitude-longitude) for individual trees. Growers who are interested in learning more details can visit Unmanned Aircraft for Agricultural Applications or send an email to
December 11, 2017, Charlottetown, PEI – P.E.I. has experienced a lower potato crop yield than usual this year and has been forced to ship in spuds from other areas of the country to make up for it.​ The province remains Canada's heaviest hitter in terms of potato production, producing roughly 25 per cent of the country's annual yield. However, dry weather conditions over the summer reduced the Island crop yield by about eight per cent this year — the largest drop among major growers in Canada. READ MORE
December 8, 2017, Mississauga, Ont – Bee Vectoring Technologies recently announced successful trial results in blueberries. The trial was conducted near Parrsborough, NS, in low bush blueberries with the Wild Blueberry Research Program at Dalhousie University. The trial utilized BVT's newly developed honeybee system, consisting of a honeybee hive outfitted with dispenser technology through which BVT's proprietary plant beneficial microbe, BVT-CR7, can be delivered to crops. The trial was designed to determine the effectiveness of the BVT technology in controlling Botrytis blight (gray mold) and Monilinia blight (mummy berry), two common and devastating diseases affecting blueberry crops across North America, compared to untreated control and current chemicals standards. The trial also examined increases in productivity of the crop measured by marketable yield. "Our yields went up quite substantially when we used the BVT system, whether alone or in combination with chemical fungicides, but they didn't go up where we used the fungicide alone," said Dr. David Percival, blueberry research program director and professor at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. "I was really surprised by the first results. I went back and double-checked the raw yield data, then the spreadsheet to make sure the statistical program was correct. The results indicate the potential for floral blight disease control and increased berry yields with the use of BVT technology. Future work will allow us to fine tune the use recommendations." “These are excellent results once again for the company and firmly establishes another major market opportunity,” said Ashish Malik, CEO of BVT. “Notably, this was the first time we tested our honeybee delivery system in a replicated R&D study, and we got great results. Having a proven system that works with honey bees alongside our first system designed to work with commercial bumble bee hives allows us to reach a far wider market and gives us options to deliver solutions for growers based on the specific needs for their crops." Blueberries are a high-value crop, fetching as much as US $18,000 in revenue per acre in certain regions. There are almost 300,000 acres of blueberries cultivated in the US and Canada with total farm gate value of US $ 1.1 billion. Blueberry production in North America represents 54 per cent of the worldwide cultivation of the crop with key growing regions including the Atlantic provinces and British Columbia in Canada, Washington, Oregon, Georgia, Michigan, California, North Carolina, New Jersey, and Florida in the U.S.
December 5, 2017, Kimberly, ID — A University of Idaho researcher says a water-efficient irrigation method he helped devise was effective in potatoes during 2017 trials and is poised for significant expansion in the coming season. UI Extension irrigation specialist Howard Neibling and his Washington State University counterpart, Troy Peters, worked in conjunction with Bonneville Power to develop the first pivot using low-elevation sprinkler application in 2013. LESA sprays water in a flat pattern from low-pressure nozzles dangling about a foot above the ground — low enough to pass beneath the crop canopy and eliminate drift without excessive runoff. READ MORE
November 30, 2017, Ottawa, Ont – The Canada Organic Trade Association recently released its second comprehensive analysis of Canada’s organic market – The Canadian Organic Market: Trends and Opportunities 2017. This in-depth publication provides the most up-to-date overview of the Canadian organic market, combining consumer research with sales and trade data to provide valuable insight into market size, growth trends and Canadian consumer perceptions. “Canada’s organic sector remains on its upward trajectory, gaining new market share as consumers across Canada ate and used more organic products than ever before,” said Tia Loftsgard, executive director of the Canada Organic Trade Association. “It is an exciting time to be a part of a sector that shows such promise to bring positive economic, social and environmental change to Canada.” According to the report: Canada’s total organic market (including food and non-food items) is estimated at $5.4 billion, up from $3.5 billion in 2012. The organic food and beverage market is estimated at $4.4 billion, up from $2.8 billion in 2012. The compound annual growth rate of the total organic market is estimated at 8.7 per cent between 2012 and 2017. Over the same time period, the growth rate for the organic food and beverage market is at an estimated 8.4 per cent. As the market has matured, growth rates have slowed but organics continues to capture a greater market share. Between 2012 and 2017, the market share of organic food and beverages sold through mainstream retailers has grown from 1.7 per cent to 2.6 per cent. Ontario has the largest organic market, yet British Columbia continues to have higher organic sales per capita. Two-thirds of Canadian grocery shoppers are purchasing organics weekly. Albertan’s are most likely to be organic purchasers – 74 per cent are buying organics weekly. Currently, Canada tracks 65 organic imports and 17 organic exports – a subset of total organic trade. Tracked Canadian organic imports were valued at $637 million in 2016. Tracked exports are expected to reach $607 million by the end of 2017. The report combines sales data from the Nielsen Company, consumer data from Ipsos polls, and organic trade data from Statistics Canada. The report is rounded out with secondary research and analysis carried out by the Canada Organic Trade Association, with additional insight and analysis from leading organic experts. A copy of the report is available for purchase from COTA.    
November 27, 2017, Guelph, Ont – Collaboration between vegetable growers, a farm organization, and a grower co-operative is leading to improved plant health and more efficient vegetable production in the Holland Marsh. The Bradford Co-op, the Fresh Vegetable Growers of Ontario and individual vegetable growers in the Holland Marsh are collaborating on a project with the University of Guelph to test innovative technologies that will make their Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs for key crops like onions and carrots more efficient and cost effective. “We work together with industry partners and growers to fund and collaborate on our IPM programs in the Marsh,” explains Matt Sheppard, Bradford Co-op general manager. “There is tremendous value in early detection and this project is helping us identify issues in real time so we can provide the correct advice and solutions to growers.” Weekly photos are taken of the vegetable fields in the marsh using an octocopter drone. Lead researcher Mary Ruth McDonald and her team at the University of Guelph’s Muck Crops Research Station run the IPM program and use the images for early detection of diseases and insects so growers can take appropriate measures to protect their crop and prevent or minimize damage. Downy mildew, which causes lower yields and decreased storability, is the most damaging disease for onions in the area; Stemphylium leaf blight is also a significant concern. “The technology we are able to access through this project makes our crop scouting program more effective and lets growers be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to crop protection,” explains Sheppard. “It’s very quick for a grower to have a problem area identified early and then decide how to treat it correctly to keep the crop healthy.” Using information generated from the aerial images to prevent or minimize problems means less and more targeted use of crop protection materials, resulting in immediate savings of $5,000 to $50,000 per grower depending on the crop and the size of the farm. More importantly, though, use of the technology ultimately ensures growers can keep supplying the market with quality produce and consumers have access to locally grown vegetables. The marsh’s unique soils mean growers in the area have to work together to find solutions for their crop challenges, says Sheppard, adding that funding from Growing Forward 2 has been instrumental in bringing the collaboration together. “Muck soil like ours doesn’t exist in other areas so we have to be self-sufficient and proactive to find solutions,” he says. “The technology is expensive so it’s something we wouldn’t be able to initiate on our own, but the investment with GF2 has allowed us to access the funds to make it happen.”
November 24, 2017, Toronto, Ont – The Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission recently announced the establishment of a new Berry Growers of Ontario (BGO) marketing board under Ontario Regulation 383/17 (Berries - Plan) of the Farm Products Marketing Act. The new organization will represent Ontario blueberry, raspberry and strawberry growers. Under the regulation, the commission was required to appoint members to serve on BGO's first board of directors. The appointed directors include:Blueberry Growers  Kerry CopestakeBrambleberry FarmWooler, ON  Steve KustermansKustermans Berry FarmsMt. Brydges, ONDusty ZamecnikEZ Grow FarmsLangton, ON   Strawberry Growers Kevin HoweG & M Howe & Sons Ltd.Aylmer, ON Graham ShawTaylor Strawberry FarmWindermere, ON Matt TigchelaarTigchelaar Berry FarmJordan, ON  Raspberry Growers Alex McKayWillowtree FarmPort Perry, ON Tom HeemanHeeman Strawberry FarmThames Centre, ON Brian RijkeDentz Orchards & Berry FarmIroquois, ON Member terms began on November 15, 2017, and will end upon the first meeting of a newly elected board in 2018. In 2018, all directors will be elected by producer members. While Ontario Regulation 383/17 establishes BGO and defines its governance framework, Ontario Regulation 428/17: Berries - Marketing delegates BGO powers to regulate the production and marketing of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries in Ontario. The proposed marketing regulation would give BGO the powers to license berry growers; set and collect licence fees; require berry growers to provide information and establish an industry advisory committee.
November 21, 2017, Windsor, Ont – Product traceability is critical for food processors, and an Essex County company specializing in agricultural automation has been helping them sustainably improve for 27 years. “Automation was almost non-existent in agriculture 30 years ago, but there was obviously a need for it,” says Joe Sleiman, founder and president of Ag-Tronic Control Systems, an automation technology company based near Windsor. “We started by looking at ways to help local produce growers improve efficiency, and do so in a more sustainable way. Now we have clients throughout Canada, the United States, and Mexico, and we’re in the process of expanding to South America, Europe and Australia,” he says. Together with his wife Samia, Sleiman started Ag-Tronic Control Systems in 1991 to market and improve his own automation equipment. At the time, that included a height control system for tomato harvesters, tractor guidance equipment, and a plant watering system. With these accomplishments, Sleiman was asked by local greenhouse growers to design a better cucumber grading system, and improve a labelling system for tray packed tomatoes. The market success of those tomatoes, though, created a new challenge: the mislabelling of produce once tomatoes were removed and repackaged. This caused losses at the retail level, prompting the same growers to request a labelling system that could apply stickers directly to the tomato body instead of the packing box. With the success of his new direct-label system, Sleiman created a sub-company called Accu-Label Inc. in 2001. Under the Accu-Label brand, he developed both an automated label machine and biodegradable, paper stickers. Combined with a recyclable liner – the parchment on which the stickers sit – he started marketing his product as both cost-saving and more sustainable than those using plastic stickers. “Our goal was to provide better performance with more sustainably,” he says. “Plastic stickers are already used, but no one wants to eat that. People also hate that they can’t be recycled.” A number of additional technologies were also created, including a handheld unit for smaller packers, and a larger portable machine that lets food retailers put their own brand onto a product wherever and whenever they require. A more user-friendly labelling machine was unveiled in 2008 that negated potential problems associated with the labeller’s liner removal system. “We developed a system to print labels on-the-go, including bar and trace codes,” says Sleiman. “That means marketers can get both traceability and their own brand right on the produce in a safe, efficient way.” More recently, Sleiman launched a camera attachment that automatically monitors labels after printing. This, he says, helps ensure each sticker is printed properly, and further improves product traceability. “We’re providing this for free to everyone who has our Print & Apply brand label machines,” he says. “It’s part of our commitment to ensure our customers continue to have the latest and best fruit labeling technology.”
Delta, BC, November 20, 2017 – Farmers know the importance of keeping the land, water and air healthy to sustain their farms from one generation to the next. They also know that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand-in-hand. The federal government recently announced a $1.8 million investment with the University of British Columbia to determine carbon sequestration and GHG emissions, and develop beneficial management practices (BMPs) for increasing the efficiency of fertilizer use in blueberry, potato and forage crops. “This project will provide new science-based knowledge on net GHG emissions by accurately measuring GHG emissions and developing mitigation technologies for blueberry, potato and forage crops in the Lower Fraser Valley,” said Dr. Rickey Yada, dean of the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at UBC. “The research team will use state-of-the-art instrumentation and automated measurement techniques to quantify annual GHG emissions. While the specific research objectives are targeted to fill regionally identified gaps in knowledge, they will be applicable more broadly to similar agricultural production systems across Canada and Global Research Alliance member countries.” This project with the University of British Columbia is one of 20 new research projects supported by the $27 million Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program (AGGP), a partnership with universities and conservation groups across Canada. The program supports research into greenhouse gas mitigation practices and technologies that can be adopted on the farm.
November 17, 2017, Charleston, SC – Broccoli is becoming more popular with consumers, providing plenty of nutrients in the diet. But it isn’t easy getting this cool-weather vegetable to kitchen tables. Broccoli producers face many factors that impede getting their crop to market – including unexpected temperature fluctuations and excessive heat. Heat stress while broccoli’s florets are developing can reduce crop yield and quality. Broccoli has been grown in Europe for centuries, but it has only been grown in North America since the late 1800s, when it was probably introduced by Italian immigrants. Although California is the major producing state, broccoli is grown in nearly every other state, especially along the eastern seaboard. The likelihood of high-temperature stress occurring in a given location or season is the main factor limiting where and when the crop can be grown. Breeding heat-tolerant broccoli cultivars could extend the growing season, expand production areas, and increase resilience to fluctuating temperatures, but efforts to do this have been limited by a lack of knowledge about the genetics of heat tolerance. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plant geneticist Mark Farnham and his team at the U.S. Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston, South Carolina, are filling in those knowledge gaps. They have developed and characterized genetic sources of heat tolerance in broccoli. These results were published in Theoretical and Applied Genetics in March 2017. The team evaluated a group of broccoli plants that Farnham developed for the ability to tolerate high-temperature stress during summer. “We identified genetic markers associated with resistance to heat damage in these plants,” says Farnham. “An important finding of this work is that the resistance trait is a complex trait controlled by many genes, which makes it a bit harder to work with. However, these markers are of great interest to public and private broccoli breeders, who can use some additional tools in their work to accelerate the development of heat-tolerant broccoli cultivars.” To determine how well Farnham’s heat-tolerant broccoli will do in different stress environments, he is working with scientists at land-grant universities on the eastern seaboard that are growing his broccoli in warm-temperature field trials. Once they verify that his broccoli will do well under adverse conditions in different locations, it will be made available for research purposes or for use by commercial seed companies and breeders. The heat-tolerant broccoli could help expand future growing possibilities significantly, helping to meet the demand for the nutritious vegetable.
November 9, 2017, Columbus, OH – An experimental “golden” potato could hold the power to prevent disease and death in developing countries where residents rely heavily upon the starchy food for sustenance, new research suggests. A serving of the yellow-orange lab-engineered potato has the potential to provide as much as 42 per cent of a child’s recommended daily intake of vitamin A and 34 per cent of a child’s recommended intake of vitamin E, according to a recent study co-led by researchers at Ohio State University. Women of reproductive age could get 15 per cent of their recommended vitamin A and 17 per cent of recommended vitamin E from that same 5.3 ounce (150 gram) serving, the researchers concluded. The study appears in the journal PLOS ONE.  Potato is the fourth most widely consumed plant food by humans after rice, wheat and corn, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It is a staple food in some Asian, African and South American countries where there is a high incidence of vitamin A and vitamin E deficiencies.  “More than 800,000 people depend on the potato as their main source of energy and many of these individuals are not consuming adequate amounts of these vital nutrients,” said study author Mark Failla, professor emeritus of human nutrition at Ohio State. “These golden tubers have far more vitamin A and vitamin E than white potatoes, and that could make a significant difference in certain populations where deficiencies – and related diseases – are common,” said Failla, a member of Ohio State’s Foods for Health Discovery Theme. Vitamin A is essential for vision, immunity, organ development, growth and reproductive health. And Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children. Vitamin E protects against oxidative stress and inflammation, conditions associated with damage to nerves, muscles, vision and the immune system. In Failla’s lab, researchers created a simulated digestive system including a virtual mouth, stomach and small intestine to determine how much provitamin A and vitamin E could potentially be absorbed by someone who eats a golden potato. Provitamin A carotenoids are converted by enzymes into vitamin A that the body can use. Carotenoids are fat-soluble pigments that provide yellow, red and orange colours to fruits and vegetables. They are essential nutrients for animals and humans. “We ground up boiled golden potato and mimicked the conditions of these digestive organs to determine how much of these fat-soluble nutrients became biologically available,” he said. The main goal of the work was to examine provitamin A availability. The findings of the high content and availability of vitamin E in the golden potato were an unanticipated and pleasant surprise, Failla said. The golden potato, which is not commercially available, was metabolically engineered in Italy by a team that collaborated with Failla on the study. The additional carotenoids in the tuber make it a more nutritionally dense food with the potential of improving the health of those who rely heavily upon potatoes for nourishment. While plant scientists have had some success cross-breeding other plants for nutritional gain, the improved nutritional quality of the golden potato is only possible using metabolic engineering – the manipulation of plant genes in the lab, Failla said. While some object to this kind of work, the research team stresses that this potato could eventually help prevent childhood blindness and illnesses and even death of infants, children and mothers in developing nations. “We have to keep an open mind, remembering that nutritional requirements differ in different countries and that our final goal is to provide safe, nutritious food to nine billion people worldwide,” said study co-author Giovanni Giuliano of the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Development at the Casaccia Research Centre in Rome. Failla said “hidden hunger” – deficiencies in micronutrients – has been a problem for decades in many developing countries because staple food crops were bred for high yield and pest resistance rather than nutritional quality. “This golden potato would be a way to provide a much more nutritious food that people are eating many times a week, or even several times a day,” he said.
If I were giving out awards to businesses that offer an exceptional tourism experience, I would present one to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland.
December 12, 2017, Guelph, Ont – Syngenta Canada Inc. recently announced that Orondis Ultra fungicide is now available in a premix formulation. Orondis Ultra combines mandipropamid (FRAC Group 40) with oxathiapiprolin (FRAC Group 49) to provide protection against late blight (Phytophthora infestans). Orondis Ultra works through translaminar and acropetal activity, moving across the leaf surface as well as upwards into new growth via the plant’s xylem, or water-conducting vessels. Both modes of action protect the plant during periods of active growth. Previously, a case of Orondis Ultra contained two components – Orondis Ultra A and Orondis Ultra B – that required individual measuring and tank mixing. Now, the new premix formulation has a single product label, meaning the components no longer require mixing prior to use, and will be available in a 4 x 3.78 L case. “Weather conditions in-season can create the conditions needed for late blight to develop and thrive,” explains Eric Phillips, product lead for fungicides and insecticides with Syngenta Canada. “The new Orondis Ultra premix formulation helps make proactive late blight management more convenient for growers.” Orondis Ultra is also registered for aerial application in potatoes. In addition to potatoes, Orondis Ultra can be used on head and stem brassica vegetables, including broccoli and cabbage, bulb vegetables, such as onion and garlic, leafy vegetables, such as arugula and celery, and cucurbit vegetables, including cucumber and squash. See the Orondis UItra label for a complete list of crops and diseases. Orondis Ultra will be available for purchase as a premix formulation for the 2018 season. For more information about Orondis Ultra, visit Syngenta.ca, contact your local Syngenta representative or call 877-964-3682.
December 11, 2017, Guelph, Ont – Bayer recently announced the launch of Sencor STZ, a new herbicide for broad-spectrum control of all major annual grass and broadleaf weeds in potatoes. Sencor STZ combines Sencor with a new Group 14 mode of action, providing Canadian potato growers a new weed control option for their field. As a pre-emergent herbicide, Sencor STZ has uptake through the roots and shoots of weeds, providing early season weed control during critical crop stages. The product works on emerged weeds and provides residual broad-spectrum control to weeds yet to germinate. It will be provided in a co-pak. “As the first innovation in the potato herbicide space in many years, Sencor STZ offers an exciting new tool for Canadian potato growers to combat a wide spectrum of weeds and maximize crop yield,” says Jon Weinmaster, crop and campaign marketing manager for horticulture and corn at Bayer. Sencor is a proven performer that delivers reliable broad-spectrum weed control to Canadian potato growers. Trials utilizing Sencor STZ have demonstrated efficacy against Group 2- and 7-resistant biotypes, while providing essential control of Group 5-resistant broadleaf weeds, demonstrating the added benefit of the product’s Group 14 herbicide. “Given the increasing occurrence of herbicide resistance and a potentially shrinking number of solutions available for combatting tough-to-control weeds, Sencor STZ presents a welcome opportunity for growers to ensure they have the crop protection they need,” says Weinmaster. “This new herbicide affirms Bayer’s position as a leader in potato solutions and our commitment to growing and furthering innovation within horticulture.” Sencor STZ will be available to potato growers in Eastern Canada and British Columbia for the 2018 season. Sencor STZ comprises Group 5 (metribuzin) and Group 14 (sulfentrazone) herbicides. For more information regarding Sencor STZ, growers are encouraged to talk to their local retailer or visit cropscience.bayer.ca/SencorSTZ.
December 8, 2017, Ithaca, NY – The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets recently confirmed that the spotted lanternfly – an invasive insect originating in East Asia – has been found in New York state. This invasive pest has also been discovered in Pennsylvania and other states, and is a potential threat to important agricultural crops, including grapes, apples, hops and forest products. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the pest is not known to occur in Canada and is not yet on Canada's list of regulated pests. However, it may appear in Canada. Any producers who believe they have found suspect specimens are urged to please contact the CFIA. Tim Weigle, statewide grape and hops integrated pest management specialist with the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, works with grape and hop growers in implementing research-based IPM practices in environmentally and economically sustainable ways. He says the spotted lanternfly could rapidly expand its range by laying eggs on motor vehicles. “The name spotted lanternfly is a bit misleading as this plant hopper grows to one-inch in size as an adult,” he said. “Large groups of both the immature and adult stages of laternfly feed on plant stems and leaves from early spring to September, weakening and possibly killing the plant. They also excrete a sugary, sticky substance similar to honeydew, which leads to the growth of sooty mold on grapes, apples and hops making them unmarketable. “I would be concerned about any shipments that people are getting that originated in the Pennsylvania counties that are currently under quarantine. While this pest seems to prefer tree of heaven, it appears to be able to lay its eggs on any smooth surface like cars, trucks, tractors or stone. Therefore, the major traffic corridors coming up into the Hudson Valley and Finger Lakes area will probably have a greater potential for spotted lanternfly eggs being transported in due to vehicle traffic.” Elizabeth Lamb, coordinator for the ornamental integrated pest management team for the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program says that grape, hop and ornamental growers, along with tree-fruit producers, are most likely to be impacted by this invasive pest. “The industries most likely to be affected by spotted lanternfly in New York state are grapes and hops, tree-fruit production, and ornamentals,” she said. “Once you consider the ornamental hosts, it becomes an issue for homeowners and landscapers, too. So the first and most important piece in controlling spotted lantern fly is observation and monitoring – by growers and the public. “A small bright spot: the biology of the insect provides several avenues for using different methods of control. Egg masses can be scraped off the smooth surfaces where they are laid and then destroyed. Nymphs crawl up and down tree trunks to feed so they can be caught on sticky traps at the right time. Adults have a preference or requirement for feeding on Ailanthus trees (Tree of Heaven), so the Ailanthus can be used as ‘trap’ trees where pesticides are applied very specifically to control the insect without widespread use.”
November 14, 2017, Edmonton, Alta – The HortSnacks-to-Go 2017/2018 webinar series continues on November 20, 2017, with Using Biocontrols in Field Scale Fruit and Vegetable Crops. “Presenter Ronald Valentin is North America technical lead at Bioline AgroSciences,” says Dustin Morton, commercial horticulture specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “He’ll be looking at how other areas of the world are using biological controls in field scale vegetable and fruit crops and how Alberta producers can take advantage of this growing area.” The webinar takes place at 1:30 p.m. MT and there is no charge to attend. To register, email Dustin Morton or go to https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8212513318118325250
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.
Pests in food-handling environments threaten product safety and create an unpleasant sight for employees and visitors. In addition to physically damaging the product or its packaging, some pests can carry and transmit diseases like E. coli, Salmonella and hantavirus. When products become infested or contaminated, they not only impact a business’s bottom line but also its reputation.
According to my children – and myself at times – I’m ancient. I grew up in those heady days before TV remotes and hand-held video games, back when where you stood in a room played a role in whether the TV station would come in clear. I remember when personal computers became mainstream. My first PC was gigantic, composed of three heavy, bulky components that could each serve as a boat anchor. The PC was going to revolutionize work. Hello three-day workweek.
August 28, 2017, Washington - In today’s modern, high-density orchards, growers are constantly seeking new ways to match the biology of their trees with emerging technologies in mechanization. The goal: improve both yields and efficiency."It’s true that some technologies don’t exist yet, but the compact, planar architectures with precision canopy management are most suitable for future mechanization and even for robotics," said Matthew Whiting, Washington State University research horticulturist. “So it is kind of an exciting time for what will be a new era of tree fruit production, as more and more technologies become available."Research labs and research orchards are driving new developments, but in many cases, they’re happening with innovative growers and private companies, he said.“Growers are innovating with orchard systems and varieties and architectures, and that’s fueling university research in many cases, and conversely, universities are driving new genotypes and how to manage and grow them best,” Whiting said. “It’s all coming together as it has never before, and it is an exciting time.”At the same time, employing the mechanization tools that already exist can take a variety of forms, across all four seasons.Those platforms you’re using for harvest? You can use them for pruning, green thinning and training, too.Two growers whose companies have been pushing forward with platforms, hedgers and other tools shared their insights for automating tasks in winter, spring, summer and fall with Good Fruit Grower.For Rod Farrow, who farms 520 acres of apples at Lamont Fruit Farm in Waterport, New York, the emphasis has been to increase income with high-value varieties and to reach maximum potential income on his standard varieties, Honeycrisp, Fuji and Gala.Almost everything is planted on Budagovsky 9 rootstock in 11-foot by 2-foot spacing, and he’s been planting and pruning to a fruiting wall for almost 18 years.“It’s less about employing mechanization by season than about deciding the orchard system — as much as anything, making sure the system that you plant now is suitable for robot use,” he said. “If it’s not, you’re going to be in trouble in terms of how you can adapt that new technology, which is coming really fast.”In the past two years, Farrow also has elected to install 3-foot taller posts in new plantings, allowing for a 2-foot taller system intended to increase production from 60 to 70 bins per acre to a more predictable 80-bin range. READ MORE 
July 27, 2017, Waterloo, Ont. - A biotechnology company that created a spray that helps farmers and growers protect crops from frost damage was among the big winners at the Velocity Fund Finals held recently at the University of Waterloo. Velocity is a comprehensive entrepreneurship program at Waterloo.Innovative Protein Technologies created Frost Armour, a spray-on-foam, after witnessing the effects of a devastating spring frost in 2012 that knocked out about 80 per cent of Ontario’s apple crop. Farmers would remove it after several days with another solution that converts it into a fertilizer."Frost damage not only affects farmers’ livelihoods, but also our food supply," said Erin Laidley, a Waterloo alumnus, who co-founded the company with Tom Keeling and Dan Krska, two alumni from the University of Guelph. "There are other spray-on solutions, but ours is non-toxic and has no negative environmental impact.”During the competition, 10 companies pitched their businesses to a panel of judges representing the investment, startup and business communities. Judges considered innovation, market potential, market viability and overall pitch.The following three companies were also grand-prize winners of $25,000 and space at Velocity. Three of the five top-prize-winning companies are based at Velocity Science. Altius Analytics Labs is a health-tech startup that helps occupational groups better manage musculoskeletal injuries. EPOCH is a skills and services marketplace that connects refugees and community members, using time as a means of exchange. VivaSpire is making lightweight wearable machines that purify oxygen from the air without the need for high pressure. For the first time, the prize of $10,000 for best hardware or science company went to a team that was not among the grand-prize winners. Vena Medical is making navigating through arteries faster, easier and safer by providing physicians with a camera that sees through blood.During the VFF event, an additional 10 teams of University of Waterloo students competed for three prizes of $5,000 and access to Velocity workspaces.The winners of the Velocity $5K are: HALo works to provide manual wheelchair users with accessible solutions to motorize their wheelchairs. QuantWave provides faster, cheaper and simpler pathogen detection for drinking water and food suppliers. SheLeads is a story-based game that helps girls realize their unlimited leadership potential. “Building a business is one of the boldest risks you can take, and yet our companies continue to demonstrate the vision, talent, and drive to think big and tackle challenging problems,” said Jay Shah, director of Velocity. “Today we are fortunate to benefit from an enormous wealth of experience from our judges who are leaders from the global investment, health and artificial-intelligence communities and entrepreneurs at heart. In helping Velocity award $125,000 in funding to these companies, we have taken a bet of our own in these founders, and said be bold, think big, and go out and change the world.”The judges for the Velocity Fund $25K competition travelled from Palo Alto, San Francisco and Toronto. They were Seth Bannon, founding partner, Fifty Years; Dianne Carmichael, chief advisor of health tech, Council of Canadian Innovators; Eric Migicovsky, visiting partner, Y Combinator; Tomi Poutanen, co-CEO, Layer 6 AI.The judges for the Velocity Fund $5K competition were Kane Hsieh, investor, Root Ventures; Tobiasz Dankiewicz, co-founder, Reebee; Karen Webb, principal, KWebb Solutions Inc.For more information on the Velocity Fund Finals, please visit 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.”
December 12, 2017, Toronto, Ont – Vive Crop Protection and United Potato Growers of America (UPGA) are pleased to announce that Vive Crop Protection is now a United Potato Partner. “We create new possibilities for potato growers that increase yield, quality, and productivity on their farms,” stated Darren Anderson, Vive’s president. “We’re committed to the growth and success of potato growers and are excited to be a United Potato Partner. If you’re a potato grower, we want to meet you and understand how we can help with your operation.” “UPGA is happy to welcome Vive Crop Protection as a potato partner,” said Mark Klompien, president and CEO of United Potato Growers of America. “UPGA’s Potato Partner Program supports offerings of innovative and productivity-enhancing products to our potato grower members, and we look forward to working with Vive toward that end.” Darren Anderson will be introduced at the 2018 Potato Business Summit in Orlando, Florida and Vive staff will be on-hand at the UPGA booth to meet with growers.
December 11, 2017, Penticton, BC – Derek & Tannis Axten of Axten Farms Ltd, Minton, SK, and Véronique Bouchard & François Handfield of Ferme aux petits oignons, Mont-Tremblant, QC, were chosen as the national winners from seven regional farmers at Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmer (OYF) Program’s national event held last week in Penticton, B.C. Both families assessed the challenges they face in farming and found new and innovative ways to address them, one taking over a generational farm and the other starting from scratch. “Once again, the seven regional finalists exceeded our expectations as innovative, forward thinking, young agricultural leaders,” said Luanne Lynn, OYF past president. “The judging process of evaluating their applications, presentations, and interviews was not easy. The national winners are strong role models and oozed with everything positive in their agricultural operations.” Understanding that high inputs and timely rains were not always sustainable on a southern Saskatchewan grain farm, Axten Farms began to research their soil food web and soil biology. Their motto became “soil is our most valuable resource so how can we improve its health” and, the microscope became their best soil health tool. With cost of production and the soil’s health as their key focus, they have now incorporated intercrops (seeding one or more crops together), cover crops, controlled traffic farming (using same track for all operations), compost extract and compost teas into their operation. It is a real change in mindset for a Saskatchewan farmer. Working with a human resource specialist, Véronique and François developed an employee guide that has helped to minimize the employee challenges that comes with their vegetable industry. They feel that enjoying your work, humour, a sense of achievement, and positive feedback all contribute to job satisfaction for their local employees. Aux petits oignons is fully organically certified, and offers weekly subscriptions for vegetable baskets as well as produce through their farm and local markets. They want to recreate the bond between urban residents and farmers while building confidence in authenticity, quality and freshness of their product. Every year this event brings recognition to outstanding farmers in Canada between 18 and 39 years of age who have exemplified excellence in their profession while fostering better urban-rural relations. Axten’s and Bouchard/Handfield were chosen from seven regional finalists, including the following honourees from the other five regions: Gary & Marie Baars – Chilliwack,BC Marc & Hinke Therrien – Redwater, AB Brent & Kirsty Oswald – Steinbach.MB Dusty Zamecnik – Langton, ON Lauchie & Jolene MacEachern – Debert, NS All the finalists exemplified pride, passion and professionalism in the agriculture industry. Celebrating 37 years, Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ program is an annual competition to recognize farmers that exemplify excellence in their profession and promote the tremendous contribution of agriculture. Open to participants 18 to 39 years of age, making the majority of income from on-farm sources, participants are selected from seven regions across Canada, with two national winners chosen each year. The program is sponsored nationally by CIBC, John Deere, Bayer, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through Growing Forward 2, a federal, provincial, territorial initiative. The national media sponsor is Annex Business Media, and the program is supported nationally by AdFarm, BDO and Farm Management Canada.
December 8, 2017, Charlottetown, PEI – The Prince Edward Island Potato Board has a new executive as a result of its recent board of directors meeting. Darryl Wallace of Cascumpec was elected as the new chair of the board. Darryl and his family own and operate Wallace Family Farms. Darryl represents the processing sector for the West Prince District on the board. The new vice-chair is Jason Hayden of Pownal. Jason and his family own and operate Eastern Farms Ltd. Jason represents the tablestock sector for the Charlottetown District. The third member of the executive committee is John Hogg of Summerside, who was elected secretary-treasurer. John represents the processing sector for the Summerside District. Also joining the board is Chad Robertson of Marvyn’s Gardens. Chad will be representing the tablestock sector for the Montague/Souris District. The remaining board directors are Rodney Dingwell, Alex Docherty, Fulton Hamill, Glen Rayner, Wayne Townshend, David Francis, Mark MacMillan and Harris Callaghan. Ashton Perry of Elmsdale also participates in board meetings as a representative of the PEI Young Farmers Association. The board also recognized the efforts of retiring member Owen Ching, tablestock representative for the Montague/Souris District, for his service over the past few years.
November 22, 2017, Toronto, Ont – Ontario has passed sweeping labour reform legislation, which includes increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Currently at $11.60 an hour, the minimum wage will rise under the legislation to $14 an hour on Jan. 1, 2018, with the increase to $15 coming in 2019. READ MORE
November 14, 2017, Edmonton, Alta – Are you a vegetable or fruit grower who needs to up your on-farm food safety game? Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF), with support from Growing Forward 2, are offering Bridging the GAP: Making CanadaGAP Work on Your Farm. This one-day workshop will be offered in two locations – Airdrie on November 29, 2017, and Leduc on December 6th, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. CanadaGAP is a food safety program for companies that produce, handle and broker fruits and vegetables. The program is designed to help implement and maintain effective food safety procedures within fresh produce operations “This introductory workshop is targeted at those growers who are looking to sell into retail or food service markets but require certification or to those who are unsure about where to start thinking about food safety,” says Kellie Jackson, development officer, AF. “Facilitators will help you to better understand the benefits of an on-farm food safety system, how CanadaGAP works, and walk you through assessing risk on your farm. A producer will share how CanadaGAP has affected their business and a produce buyer will talk about why they want suppliers to be CanadaGAP certified.” This workshop will be the precursor to two other workshops planned for January and February 2018. The first will be to further CanadaGAP understanding to help participants to become certified once enrolled in the program, while the second workshop focuses on maintaining certification and implementing process improvements that address risk. To register for one of the introductory workshops, call 1-800-387-6030 or register on line at https://eservices.alberta.ca/bridging-the-gap-workshop.html. Cost is $30 plus GST per person and includes coffee and lunch. For more information, contact Kellie Jackson at 403-948-8538.
November 10, 2017, Wallaceburg, Ont – The Processing Vegetable Growers’ Alliance (PVGA) released its official response to the itemized list of proposed changes the Farm Products Marketing Commission announced on October 12 to Regulation 440 of the Farm Products Marketing Act. “We have carefully reviewed the list of changes the commission is proposing to Reg 440, and will be providing a detailed response as part of the online consultation period,” says Francis Dobbelaar, PVGA chair. “We are extremely disappointed and concerned with several of the changes and the impact they will have on growers.” Regulation 440 governs a number of important issues impacting the processing vegetable sector in Ontario, including the negotiation process between growers and processors. PVGA points to three particular portions of the proposed Reg 440 changes that will cause the most concern for Ontario growers – the implementation of a new two-round negotiation process, removal of final offer arbitration for contract negotiations, and the creation of a new Industry Advisory Committee with grower representatives hand-picked by the commission rather than elected by and accountable to the growers. PVGA believes all 10 grower positions on a new Industry Advisory Committee (IAC) must be chosen by growers and not appointed by the commission. Given that the current OPVG board is not fully grower elected, PVGA requests that IAC members for 2017/2018 are elected directly by growers. PVGA opposes the creation of negotiating agencies that would see that growers associated with a particular processor are able to negotiate directly with that processor. PVGA does not support changes that would eliminate final offer arbitration and the process that currently requires arbitrators to select one party’s final offer in its entirety. “We are encouraging every processing vegetable grower to take part in the consultation process on Reg 440,” says Dobbelaar. “We need to have our voices heard, and advocate for the kind of industry that encourages innovation, collaboration and progress.” PVGA’s detailed response to Reg 440 changes are posted at PVGAlliance.org. Growers are reminded there is one remaining in-person consultation on November 23 and online submissions are open until December 11, 2017. All details are available on the Farm Products Marketing Commission website.
November 6, 2017, Charlottetown, PEI – A company involved in shipping seed potatoes from P.E.I. to Venezuela has successfully appealed a court order to pay more than $79,000. In a recent decision, two of three P.E.I. Court of Appeal judges agreed to vacate a summary judgment order for HZPC Americas Corporation to pay Havanlee Farms Inc. READ MORE
October 30, 2017, Guelph, Ont – The Advanced Farm Management Program (AFMP) is open for registration for the 2017-18 fall and winter season. Sessions specific to direct farm marketers are being offered by the Agri-food Management Institute (AMI) in partnership with the Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association. “This program is designed for Ontario farm business owners and managers who want to elevate their management skills to improve their business performance,” says AMI Executive Director Ashley Honsberger. “We know from our past research that good farm management habits are directly linked to stronger profitability and that continuous learning is the number one habit of Canada’s most successful farm businesses.” AFMP includes five intensive one-day sessions with farm management specialists who will cover key business concepts and help participants apply these to a case study. At the end of the program, participants will have a completed management action plan for their farm business that’s ready for implementation. Tuition is $725 plus HST and includes breakfasts and lunches. A second participant from the same operation can register for $450 plus HST. Participants who register by November 10, 2017 receive a 10 per cent early bird tuition discount; program costs are subsidized by AMI. Final registration deadline is November 20. The direct farm marketer sessions will take place at the Best Western Plus, Milton, on November 30, December 18, January 15, January 29 and February 12, with a weather-related make-up day scheduled for February 26 if needed. For more information or to register, visit www.advancedfarmmanagement.ca, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call AMI at 519-822-6618.
October 23, 2017, Florenceville-Bristol, NB – McCain Foods Ltd. has opened its new $65 million potato specialty production line at its flagship facility in Florenceville-Bristol, N.B. The new 35,000-square-foot production line is the company’s largest capacity expansion investment in Canada in nearly 10 years, McCain Foods officials said. READ MORE
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.

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