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

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    
September 18, 2017, Brooks, Alta – Potato plants need a lot of nitrogen to produce tubers at optimum levels, but with more applied nitrogen comes an increased risk of nitrogen loss to the atmosphere. Guillermo Hernandez Ramirez, an assistant professor at the University of Alberta, is studying the use and loss of that fertilizer in potato crops. He is testing various nitrogen fertilizer formulations and biostimulants to gauge their effect on potato productivity and nitrous oxide emissions. READ MORE  
September 18, 2017, Churchbridge, SK – Strawberry and blueberry farmer Dusty Zamecnik of Frogmore, Ont, was named the 2017 Outstanding Young Farmers (OYF) for the Ontario Region at the annual awards event held September 12 in conjunction with Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show. Zamecnik, a graduate of Francis Xavier, is fourth generation owner of EZ Grow Farms Ltd and partner in Hometown Brew Co. EZ Grow began as a tobacco farm but has evolved into blueberry production and strawberry propagation. By specializing, Zamecnik feels their competitive advantage is maximized. The Ontario OYF region was honoured to have four nominees participate in the event. They were: Amanda & Steve Hammell, Tara, Ont; Jessica Foote, Janetville, Ont; Josh & Ellen and Rudi & Jennifer Biemond, Iroquois, Ont; and Dusty Zamecnik, Frogmore, Ont. “The Ontario region of Canada's Outstanding Young Farmers has, once again, celebrated the accomplishments of a passionate group of inspiring producers,” said Jack Thomson, past president of Canada’s OYF. “Our recipient of the Ontario award, Dusty Zamecnik, has a can-do approach to his business. Passion, entrepreneurship and dedication are the foundation of any great business and Dusty displays these in spades.” After obtaining his degree and working a few years off-farm, Zamecnik came home to take over his family’s farm. The operation moved away from rosebushes and tomatoes and focused on strawberry propagation. Orders have increased from six million plants to 16 million plants per year. The farm is now propagating breed stock to which they have exclusive rights. Blueberries produced are sold direct to consumers in patented containers, which helped to establish brand identity. Hometown Brew Co is Zamecnik’s latest venture. He partnered with two cousins in 2016 to create a microbrewery that has three brews, including one which features the farm’s blueberries. Zamecnik believes in being a positive voice for agriculture by using social media and being involved in local fruit organizations. Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2017 will be chosen at the National Event in Penticton, BC, from November 30 to December 3, 2017.
September 14, 2017, Guelph, Ont – The potato person who said many years ago “A potato storage is not a hospital” was absolutely right. Diseased or bruised tubers do not get better in storage. Tubers bruised at harvest are easily invaded by soft rot or Fusarium dry rot, which can cause serious economic losses in storage. Harvest management, in large part, is bruise management. Bruising also affects tuber quality significantly. In order to harvest potatoes with minimum tuber damage, growers need to implement digging, handling and storage management practices that maintain the crop quality for as long as possible after harvest. Assuming all harvest and handling equipment are mechanically ready to harvest the crop with minimum bruising, there are several tips to preserve the quality of potatoes crop during harvest: Timely Vine Killing. Killing the vines when tubers are mature makes harvesting easier by reducing the total vine mass moving through the harvester. This allows an easier separation of tubers from vines. Timely Harvest. Potatoes intended for long term storage should not be harvested until the vines have been dead for at least 14 days to allow for full skin set to occur. Soil Moisture. Optimal harvest conditions are at 60 to 65 per cent available soil moisture. Tuber Pulp Temperature. Optimal pulp temperatures for harvest are from 500 F to 600 F. Proper pulp temperature is critical; tubers are very sensitive to bruising when the pulp temperature is below 450 F. If pulp temperatures are above 650 F, tubers become very susceptible to soft rot and Pythium leak. Pulp temperatures above 70 F increase the risk of pink rot tremendously no matter how gently you handle the tubers if there is inoculum in the soil. Tuber Hydration. An intermediate level of tuber hydration results in the least bruising. Overhydrated tubers dug from wet soil are highly sensitive to shatter bruising especially when the pulp temperature is below 450 F. In addition, tubers harvested from cold, wet soil are more difficult to cure and more prone to breakdown in storage. Slightly dehydrated tubers dug from dry soil are highly sensitive to blackspot bruising. Reducing Blackspot Bruising. Irrigate soil that is excessively dry before digging to prevent tuber dehydration and blackspot bruising. Bruise Detection Devices. Try to keep the volume of soil and tubers moving through the digger at capacity at all points of the machine. If bruising is noticeable, use a bruise detection device to determine where in the machinery the tubers are being bruised. Field Conditions. Do not harvest potatoes from low, poorly drained areas of a field where water may have accumulated and/or dig tests have indicated the presence of tubers infected with late blight. Train all employees on how to reduce bruising. Harvester operators must be continually on the look out for equipment problems that may be damaging tubers. Ideally, growers should implement a bruise management program that includes all aspects of potato production from planting through harvest. Harvest when day temperatures are not too warm to avoid tuber infections. Storage rots develop very rapidly at high temperatures and spread easily in storage. If potatoes are harvested at temperatures above 27 C and cool off slowly in storage, the likelihood of storage rots is increased. If warm weather is forecast, dig the crop early in the morning when it is not so warm.
September 13, 2017, Kelowna, BC – An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but the mold on it could make you sick. Rhiannon Wallace, a PhD candidate at University of British Columbia's Okanagan campus, has developed a way to stop, or at least control, blue mold – a pathogen that can rot an apple to its core. Wallace’s research has determined that bacteria, originally isolated from cold Saskatchewan soils, may be the answer to preventing mold growth and apple rot while the fruit is in storage or transport. “The majority of postharvest fungal pathogens are opportunistic,” explains Wallace, who is working with UBC Biology Prof. Louise Nelson. “If a fruit is physically damaged, it is at an increased risk of rotting during storage. So a tiny blemish on the fruit from harvest or handling can turn into a conduit for attack by fungal pathogens and subsequently result in the development of mold.” The fungal pathogen Penicillium expansum, also known as blue mold, destroys millions of stored apples each year. Post-harvest rot can result in yield losses of up to 20 per cent in developed countries such as Canada, while developing countries can lose up to 50 per cent of the crop, Wallace says. The goal of her research is to reduce the amount of produce lost due to post-harvest blue mold. Traditionally, post-harvest rot has been controlled with chemical fungicides, but Wallace says these treatments have become less effective as the pathogen has developed resistance and there is consumer pushback to the chemicals. The research by Wallace and Nelson aims to provide a safer and more sustainable alternative to fungicides. Wallace suggests the solution may lie in a particular bacterium specific to Saskatchewan soil. Pseudomonas fluorescens, due to its prairie roots, can survive in cold storage – a characteristic that is key to dealing with cold-stored produce like apples. During tests conducted at the British Columbia Tree Fruits Cooperative storage facility in the Okanagan, Wallace determined that these bacteria can prevent blue mold from growing on McIntosh and Spartan apples while in storage. In addition, during these experiments, the bacteria provided control of blue mold on apples that was comparable to a commercially available biological control agent and a chemical fungicide. “What is novel about our research is that we show the bacterial isolates we tested have an array of mechanisms to inhibit or kill Penicillium expansum (blue mold) on apples while fungicides generally act only by a single mode,” Wallace says. “These findings suggest that the development of resistance by blue mold against our soil bacteria is unlikely.” She does note that while all three isolates of P. fluorescens tested provided control of blue mold, the level of control provided by each isolate varied with apple variety. Wallace’s research, supported by the Canadian Horticulture Council and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, was recently published in the journal Postharvest Biology and Technology. Further support came from the BC Tree Fruits Cooperative and Agriculture Canada’s Summerland Research and Development Centre.
September 11, 2017, Guelph, Ont – Ontario’s newest fruit crop, the Cold Snap pear, has gone from zero to zoom in record time and is now available through five major retail grocery chains. It’s a great grassroots success story that checks all the boxes giving Canadian growers an exciting new profitable crop option, and offering consumers locally produced fruit throughout the winter. Ontario researchers at Vineland Research Innovation Centre set out to develop a new winter hearty pear to provide a new opportunity for Ontario growers. The resulting new variety – trademarked Cold Snap pear – was licensed to Vineland Growers Cooperative, a 300-member fruit and vegetable growing and processing cooperative in Ontario’s Niagara Region. When the new pear was ready for commercial orchards, 80,000 trees were planted in Ontario and the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia. After three years, the new trees began producing enough fruit to take to market. That’s where some of the most interesting challenges began. “The hardest part of launching a new product is customer awareness and buy in,” says Matt Ecker, sales and business development manager with Vineland Growers Cooperative. “The Growing Forward 2 (GF2) funding we received through the Agricultural Adaptation Council helped us develop and deliver messaging about the new pear directly to consumers through in-store demonstrations.” And the response has been very positive for the new variety. “Once people try our pears, they really liked them but we needed to make our brand pop to be able to change consumer behaviour about when they could buy fresh, local pears,” says Ecker. Sales are off to a strong start and customer feedback indicates that Ontario consumers are embracing the new fruit option and enjoying the taste and texture of the Cold Snap pear. For growers who planted the new pear, the opportunities are as refreshing as the fruit. Cold Snap pears are grown in high-density plantings. As the trees mature and grow into full production, growers can expect to yield up to 20 tonne/acre of fruit – or nearly double the yield of low density orchard plantings. Higher yields bring greater efficiencies and profitability for growers. And the consumer marketing efforts will continue to build demand and bring higher returns to growers for this high value food product. “Most consumers don’t realize they can buy Canadian pears into the winter season,” says Ecker. “We’re continuing our marketing and brand awareness push with consumers. We have marketing partners in Nova Scotia. And as we continue to grow consumer demand for our pear, we have plans to expand production with growers in British Columbia.” Cold Snap pears will be available in five retailers in Ontario and Quebec for the 2017 season: Loblaws, Sobeys, Metro, Wal-Mart and Costco.
September 11, 2017, Geneva, NY – Breeding the next great grape is getting a boost thanks to new funding for a Cornell University-led project that uses genomic technology to create varieties that are more flavourful and sustainable. The project – VitisGen2 – is a collaboration of 25 scientists from 11 institutions who are working in multidisciplinary teams to accelerate development of the next generation of grapes. Launched in 2011, the project was recently renewed with a $6.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Specialty Crop Research Initiative. The work has the potential to save millions of dollars annually for the U.S. grape industry – in excess of $100 million in California alone, according to Bruce Reisch, professor of grapevine breeding and genetics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), who co-leads the project with Lance Cadle-Davidson, plant pathologist with the USDA-ARS Grape Genetics Research Unit, both located at Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York. VitisGen2’s multipronged model addresses the grape production continuum. An economics team examines the benefits of improving grape varieties. Geneticists identify molecular markers for important traits in grapes, from resistance to diseases like powdery mildew to boosting low-temperature tolerance and fruit quality. Grape-breeding scientists develop new grape varieties that incorporate these traits, and teams of outreach specialists help growers and consumers understand the advantages of newly introduced grape varieties. The result is a new generation of high-quality grapes that can be grown at lower cost and adapt easily to a range of geographic regions and climates, all with less environmental impact. “We all stand to benefit in areas ranging from the environment to economic sustainability to improving the profit and quality possibilities for the industry,” Reisch said. Among the achievements in the project’s first five-year phase: Deploying DNA sequencing technology to map the grape genome, a project led by Cadle-Davidson and Qi Sun of the Cornell Bioinformatics Facility. Identifying 75 genetic markers associated with a range of important traits. Pinpointing a gene that controls acidity in grapes. The discovery by the winemaking fruit quality team, led by Gavin Sacks, associate professor of food science in CALS, will help winemakers moderate excessive acid levels typically found in wild grape species, which are often used in crossbreeding for their resistance to disease. Developing a process called Amplicon Sequencing, or AmpSeq, that allows researchers to rapidly analyze genetic variation in multiple genomic regions – anywhere from 2 to 500 DNA sequence markers – simultaneously. The project has already shared its disease-resistant germplasm with breeding programs throughout the U.S., speeding the development of grape varieties with more flavour and that are more environmentally sustainable. Looking to the future, Reisch and the VitisGen2 teams are aiming to expand the use of high-throughput DNA and plant evaluation technology to improve the quality of wine, raisin and table grapes, as well as rootstocks. VitisGen2 is using genome sequencing to identify markers within numerous genes of interest to better understand which genes are controlling priority traits. The team is also looking at ways to use its collective knowledge of genetics to help growers manage vineyards. For example, AmpSeq technology can track the powdery mildew pathogen population, allowing researchers to determine which pesticides are most effective at specific times of the season, thereby reducing pesticide spraying and increasing its efficacy. Ultimately, VitisGen2 will bring greater efficiency to grape growing, which is an intensive, comprehensive and costly process, said Reisch. “It takes 15-plus years to get a new variety to the market,” Reisch said. “We’re probably shrinking the timeline down by two or three years.”
September 7, 2017, Churchbridge, Sask – Organic vegetable producers Veronique Bouchard and Francois Handsfield of Mont-Tremblant QC, were named the 2017 Outstanding Young Farmers (OYF) for the Quebec Region at their annual awards event held at the CentreExpo Cogeco de Drummondville on August 31. With no farm history but shared values and dreams, Veronique and Francois became owners of “ferme aux petits oignons” where they grow more than 65 different vegetables, aromatic herbs, flowers and fruits that are certifed organic by Ecocert Canada. Protecting soil, water and energy is important to Veronique, who has a Masters in Environment, and Francois, who is a bioresource engineer. “What a beautiful evening to celebrate the excellence of agriculture” said Franck Groeneweg, Canada OYF West vice chair. “Veronique Bouchard and Francois Handfield started with nothing and now produce vegetables on 10 acres that generate an impressive income while cherishing a balanced quality of life. I wish them well at the national competition in Penticton.” The farm, located in a beautiful Laurentian valley, produces a wide variety of vegetables, all distributed in the immediate area. The farm is small, but profitable as they focus on control production costs. Their products are available at the summer market, directly at the farm store or through the internet subscription process for organic baskets they have developed. The couple believe “they must constantly innovate and get off the beaten track” and are always willing to share their many innovations during workshops, visits to the farm and as mentors to new farmers/farms. 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. Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2017 will be chosen at the National Event in Penticton, BC, from November 30 to December 3, 2017.
September 7, 2017, Niagara, Ont – The Grape Growers of Ontario, Wine Council of Ontario and Winery & Grower Alliance of Ontario have successfully negotiated a grape price agreement for the 2017 harvest. This agreement recognizes the various price categories within the industry, and includes an important proviso for both processors and producers to actively participate in developing a sustainable industry wide plan following harvest.   “The constant in our industry is the consistent grape quality our growers produce every year to make 100 per cent Ontario grown wine,” said Matthias Oppenlaender, chair of the GGO. “This agreement recognizes that growers, with their wine partners, can work together to collectively build and strengthen our grape and wine industry’s future.” “WGAO members purchase some 85 per cent of the grapes grown by independent farmers in Ontario for VQA and International Canadian Blend (ICB) wines, and we are very pleased that grape growers and processors have arrived at an agreement for grape prices in 2017,” stated Del Rollo, chair of the WGAO. “I’m pleased we were able to reach an agreement on grape pricing for the 2017 harvest,” said Len Pennachetti, chair of the WCO. “The agreement provides price certainty, which will help wineries plan and potentially grow their businesses.” Ontario’s grape and wine industry is a significant economic driver to the provincial economy which contributes over $4.4 billion economic impact through jobs, tourism and taxes, particularly in the province’s designated viticulture areas: Niagara Peninsula, Prince Edward County, Lake Erie North Shore, and the emerging South Coast region.
September 5, 2017, Netherlands - In a hidden experimental field in Wageningen, the Netherlands, surrounded by tall maize plants, there are several smaller plots with potato plants.In some of these plots there are only dead plants, in others the plants have been affected by late blight (Phytophthora infestans) to a greater or lesser extent, but there are also fields with only perfectly healthy potatoes.The latter are the result of the latest crosses by the Wageningen company, Solynta. The breeders have succeeded, thanks to their revolutionary hybrid breeding technique, in making potato plants insusceptible to the dreaded potato disease.A new way of potato breedingPotatoes are generally clone-bred and grown vegetatively. A seed-potato is put in the ground, which produces some ten new potatoes. One of the disadvantages of this system is that the parent plant transmits diseases to the offspring. Also, making the crop resistant is a long process.Solynta has therefore selected a whole new approach: the company developed hybrid breeding with elite parent-lines, which allow propagation with true seeds. READ MORE
August 30, 2017, California - The Public Strawberry Breeding Program at the University of California, Davis, and colleagues in California and Florida have received a $4.5 million grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to improve the disease resistance and sustainable production of strawberries throughout the nation.The collaborative grant is good news for strawberry farmers and consumers everywhere, according to Rick Tomlinson, president of the California Strawberry Commission. To signal its own support, the strawberry commission pledged an additional $1.8 million to the UC Davis program.“An investment in the UC Davis strawberry breeding program is an investment in the future of strawberries,” Tomlinson said. “Thanks to their groundbreaking research and strong partnerships, Director Steve Knapp and his colleagues are developing improved strawberry varieties publicly available to farmers.”Improving genetic resistance to diseaseStrawberries constitute a $4.4 billion-dollar industry in the United States, and 94 percent of the nation’s strawberry fruit and nursery plants are grown in California and Florida.Strawberries are especially vulnerable to soil-borne pathogens, which destroy plants and greatly reduce yield. Since the 1960s, strawberry growers have depended on fumigants like methyl bromide to treat soils before planting berries in an effort to control disease. But methyl bromide has been phased out by the Environmental Protection Agency and will no longer be available after 2017.“Following the elimination of methyl bromide fumigation, strawberry growers are under greater economic pressures, and there is an urgent need for improved, disease-resistant strawberry varieties that will thrive without fumigation,” Knapp said.Knapp will head a team of scientists from UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, UC Riverside, the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and the University of Florida.Together, researchers will identify and manage pathogen threats, mine elite and wild genetic resources to find natural sources of resistance to pathogens, and accelerate the development of public varieties resistant to a broad spectrum of disease and other pests.“Strawberry growers are faced with the need to deliver high-quality fruit to consumers year-round, while protecting the environment, fostering economic growth in their communities and coping with profound changes in production practices,” Knapp said. “We look forward to collaborating with our industry partners through research, agricultural extension and education to help them reach those goals.”UC Davis Public Strawberry Breeding ProgramDuring six decades, the UC Davis Public Strawberry Breeding Program has developed more than 30 patented varieties, made strawberries a year-round crop in California and boosted strawberry yield from just 6 tons per acre in the 1950s to 30 tons per acre today.Knapp took over directorship of the program in 2015. He and his team are working to develop short-day and day-neutral strawberry varieties; studying the genetics of disease-resistance, fruit quality and photoperiod response; and applying genomic techniques to make traditional strawberry breeding more efficient. They have 10 public varieties in the pipeline and plan to release one or two new strawberry varieties later this year.Initiative collaboratorsThe grant is funded by USDA’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative. Collaborators from UC Davis include agricultural economist Rachael Goodhue, plant pathologist Thomas Gordon, and plant scientists Julia Harshman and Thomas Poorten.Other key collaborators are Oleg Daugovish with UC Agricultural and Natural Resources; Alexander Putman at UC Riverside; Julie Guthman at UC Santa Cruz; Gerald Holmes and Kelly Ivors, both at Cal Poly; and Seonghee Lee, Natália Peres and Vance Whitaker, all of the University of Florida.
August 29, 2017, Vineland, Ont. – Farmers interested in adding a new crop to their production line-up may want to look at okra as an opportunity.That’s according to researchers at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) who have been working with the crop for the past five years and have some very promising results from two years of field trials with three okra varieties.“We know okra can be grown commercially in southern Ontario and that yields of 20,000 kg per hectare are possible,” said Vineland research scientist Dr. Viliam Zvalo.Canada imported over six million kilograms of okra in 2015 – an increase of 43 per cent since 2011 – so the market demand for this new crop, popular especially in South and Southeast Asian cuisine, is there.Zvalo is particularly excited about three additional varieties Vineland has been able to source from East West Seeds from Thailand. The company is a key player in the okra seed market in countries like India, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand where much of the world’s okra is grown.“We planted some of these varieties in June last year and were amazed by the yield potential,” he said. “I believe they may outperform the varieties we’ve been using so far and we are quite optimistic they’ll do very well here.”Okra grows well in Canada’s hot summers but less is known about its performance in cooler, wet weather. However, Zvalo believes these new Asian varieties, which are developed for the cooler monsoon season, should perform well in Canada. Also, one variety is slower to mature than others, which means it needs to be harvested only every two or three days.“Normally okra has to be picked daily to keep it from over-ripening and becoming woody, so this would give growers a bit of a buffer at harvest time,” he said.Retail support for the new crop has been strong with prices for growers averaging $2.50 – $2.60 per pound. The key to getting into the okra business, though, is knowing the market, believes Zvalo.“Big retailers are very interested in locally-grown okra, but are unlikely to deal with growers who only grow half an acre,” he said. “And if you’re harvesting and shipping daily, you need to be reasonably close to the market to get the crop there on time and be cost-competitive.”For those interested in experimenting with okra, Vineland will provide a small quantity of seeds per variety as well as technical assistance related to growing the crop. This lets growers see first-hand how the varieties perform in their particular climate and soil.According to Zvalo, the crop will grow reasonably well in areas of 2700 – 3300 crop heat units and growers in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Manitoba are trialing all six of the varieties this year.Vineland has been conducting okra research on optimal plant spacing, fertilization, use of covers in early spring as well as the impact on yield potential of direct seeding versus transplanting. More information is at http://vinelandresearch.com/program/feeding-diversity-bringing-world-crops-market.“I think the okra story is definitely more promising today than it was just a few years ago,” Zvalo said.Vineland’s okra research is funded in part by Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative, through the AgriInnovation Program.
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.
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.
September 12, 2017, Ottawa, Ont – Representatives from four different government departments and departmental organizations recently made the trip to Norfolk County, known as “Ontario’s garden”, to observe the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) in action. Officials from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC); Service Canada; Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC); and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) participated in a two-day tour, which stopped at 12 farms and included greenhouses and packing facilities. Government officials picked the farms they wanted to visit, so as to make sure they were seeing typical SAWP environments, and not just ones hand-picked by the tour organizers. READ MORE
September 12, 2017, Ottawa, Ont – On July 25 and 26, Quebec’s Apple Producers hosted the annual meeting of the Canadian Horticultural Council (CHC)’s Canadian apple industry. Representatives from the industry, from the Quebec and Canadian governments and from the other provinces increased their knowledge of Quebec’s apple industry. The event, held in the Laurentians, was a huge success. On July 25, networking among the members of the working group was undertaken in Mont-Tremblant. The crop estimate for each province was discussed. Crop volume for Nova Scotia should be similar to last year’s. Some Ontario producers faced hail that devastated a few orchards; in all, a slight drop in volume is predicted compared to 2016. A high volume of apples is predicted for British Columbia and the number of available Ambrosia is still increasing. We also discussed the re-evaluation of Captan. Considerable action was taken following last year’s CHC survey of a number of Canadian apple producers. Recently, the various associations answered a second questionnaire from the PMRA in order to prepare arguments in favour of continuing its use in Canadian orchards. It was proposed that a video be made on the international farm workers programs, stressing the importance of these workers for the horticultural industries of Quebec and Canada, and highlighting the program’s positive impact on the families of the workers. CHC needs funding to produce the video and is asking for the support of all those who can contribute financially. The next day, members visited many apple-producing and agribusiness sites. Many presentations were made. Here are the details: The Cataphard Orchards Sexual Confusion, presented by Daniel Cormier, researcher at the IRDA The Apple of Tomorrow, presented by Roland Joanin and Philippe Quinn Marc Vincent Warehouse The Agropomme Club, presented by Marilyn Courchesne Storex Industries, presented by Chris Treville Coeur de pomme Orchard Apple Network and a group of experts, presented by Gérald Chouinard, researcher at the IRDA Double grafting, harvester and weather station, presented by Éric St-Denis Rochon et Frères Farm SALSA handling concept and staking, presented by Éric Rochon Thanks to Éric Rochon who organized the day in expert fashion, and to QAP employees and regional administrators who helped plan the day. Of course, an event such as this could not have been held without the generous contribution of our partners. We sincerely wish to thank them for having contributed to the success of the meeting.
While most young men in the early 1900s were likely dreaming about driving a Model-T Ford, Norman M. Bartlett was thinking in an inventive way. Living in Beamsville, Ontario – the heart of the Niagara Peninsula – had a strong influence on the direction of his thinking. The Niagara Peninsula has possibly the most unique combination of fertile soil types, climatic conditions and access to local markets in Canada.It is also interesting to note that even at the turn of the century, the consumer was recognizing quality and placing demands on the growers to improve produce quality. This interest in quality plus quite possibly the fact that the major variety of pears grown in this area was (and still is) the Bartlett pear, (an interesting coincidence), were most probably the factors that strongly influenced Norman M. Bartlett’s life in 1912. During that year, he began manufacturing lime sulphur in a 40-inch cast iron kettle and thereby established Bartlett Spray Works. His product was excellent by 1912 standards, and Bartlett gained notoriety with this product as it helped to produce the quality crops the consumer desired. It was not long before other products were added to his list of crop protection materials and demand was spreading into the other fruit and vegetable growing areas of Ontario. Quality and service were synonymous from the very beginning. Bartlett was a fruit grower as well during this time. The Bartlett farm on Bartlett Side Road in Beamsville consisted of a mixture of apples, grapes and pears – mostly Bartlett pears, of course. A grass-rooted involvement and extreme interest in trying to solve problems and find answers that were sound and profitable to not only Bartlett Spray Works, but to the growers he was serving then evolved. This would become the cornerstone of the foundation that N.M. Bartlett Inc. would still be building on some three generations and more than 80 years later. Over the next quarter-century, Bartlett Spray Works continued to grow in both product range and geographical coverage. Products such as Paris Green, Bluestone (Copper Sulphate), Microfine Wettable Sulphur, Calcium Arsenate, Nicotine Sulphate, and Arsenate of Lead, to name but a few, were found under the Bartlett label. By this time, Bartlett had designed and built his own hammer mill and cyclone separator to be able to produce the finest ground sulphur in North America. Bartlett Microfine Sulphur was known to growers as the best available. Soon word spread to other industries and Bartlett Microfine Sulphur was used extensively in the manufacture of rubber and explosives in Eastern Canada by companies such as Firestone, Uniroyal, CIL, and Dupont. When the use of dusts became the newest application method during the 1950s, Bartlett Spray Works met the challenge to produce quality products. The grind mill became instrumental in producing high quality superfine dusts. The involvement of other Bartlett family members was also critical to the success of the company, which was incorporated in 1951 and renamed N.M. Bartlett Manufacturing Company. The three Bartlett children – Evelynne, Jim and George – all were involved in the family business. The children first helped out on the farm and, when old enough, became active in the spray works. George and his future brother-in-law, Hec Little, directed a staff of six involved in production, Evelynne managed the office and billing, and Jim looked after deliveries of the product, which included deliveries to the province of Quebec by the 1940s. From the beginning, Norman had an inventive mind and enjoyed challenges. Therefore, it was not surprising that he designed and built fruit grading and sorting equipment as early as 1930. The Bartlett equipment set a world standard for excellence of handling fruit and vegetables. In fact, during the 1950s and 1960s, Bartlett equipment was built for growers in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Israel, France, and United States as well as Canada. In Canada, this equipment introduced the Bartlett name into other areas of the country. Bartlett equipment and the Bartlett reputation became know to all fruit and vegetable growers from coast to coast. All of these additions to the Bartlett line complemented the crop protection products, which remained the mainstay of the overall business. Jim Bartlett took over the leadership of the company in the late 1950s when his father, Norman, suffered a stroke. After a full and eventful life with many credits to his name, Norman passed away in 1970 at the age of 77. During the late 1960s and 1970s, the next generation of the Bartlett family became involved. The company name changed to N.M. Bartlett Inc. during the late 1970s and growth through service and commitment remained strong. The leadership provided by Jim to the company blossomed out into the industry. Jim spent considerable time and effort working for effective policy. He advocated tirelessly on behalf of the industry to the federal government on issues of cross border importation. He championed the first minor use registration of pesticides program in Canada in 1977 to help keep Canadian horticultural growers competitive. And he was an early promoter of the need for federal help to bring new crop protection products to the small acre crops that make up the diverse horticulture industry in Canada. Jim served as chair of the national organization now known as CropLife Canada and was involved in the creation of the CropLife Ontario Council – working to balance the interests of the industry with the interests of society. He was an active member of a group that brought the first Ontario horticultural conference in Toronto. Today, that annual event is known as the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention and Jim’s grandson, Matt Peters, has served as its president. He’s one of eight grandchildren that represent the fourth generation in the Bartlett family business. Jim continued to be actively involved in all the aspects of the business until 1981, when he had a severe heart attack. At that time, his brother-in-law, Hec Little, son-in-law Don Peters, and son, Craig Bartlett, became the management nucleus with Jim serving as a semi-retired advisor. This management team oversaw a broadening sales force of 13 across Canada and continued successfully through the 1980s. When Jim retired in 1987, he was elected as Chairman of the Board, and his son, Craig Bartlett, became president of the company. Jim passed away in 2011, one year shy of the business celebrating 100 years. He was conducted into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame in November 2016, recognized as a visionary, passionate advocate and respected voice in Canadian agriculture. He left behind a lasting legacy in a family business that continues to have a positive impact on Canadian horticulture. The values set out by Norman and Jim have been carried forward in the third and fourth generation’s business goals and commitments. Service and dedication to the horticultural industry in Canada is still first and foremost. In the words of Craig Bartlett: “We at N.M. Bartlett Inc. are proud of the heritage and values that the first two generations established, and the company looks forward to a future where we will continue to apply these time-tested values.” Norman Bartlett himself would have been proud of the accomplishments to date of the little, privately-owned family business he started 105 years ago.
September 5, 2017, Ontario - The popularity of a seven-year-old program designed to give wine grape growers funding for production improvements shows no signs of abating.When the first-come, first-served application process opened in June for the marketing and vineyard improvement program, the program’s administrator, Agricorp, received enough applications for the available funding in just one day.There is $2 million worth of funding for the 2017-2018 program year, and another $2 million for the 2018-2019 program, says Agricorp spokesperson Stephanie Charest. The intake of the 152 applications was for both years, as requested by industry.Government funding for production improvementsThe Grape Growers of Ontario website says the program provides funds to growers to help with the costs of improving their production of wine grapes. Successful applicants can get payments for up to 35 per cent of their project.Chair Matthias Oppenlaender says with the funding taken up so quickly, it clearly shows there’s a need for more money in the program.He’s used the program in the past for his Niagara-on-the-Lake vineyard for wind machines and improved harvesting technology.There are 17,000 acres of grapes vines in south, southwestern and eastern Ontario. In 2016, growers harvested about 70,000 tonnes of wine grapes valued at $95.3 million.Split fundingThe 2017-2018 program will fund 73 to proceed with their proposed projects. Growers then submit claims once they have completed the work.The remaining applicants are placed in sequence for the 2018-2019 program. Agricorp will know how many growers will get funding in that program year once it gives them the go-ahead in the spring of 2018 to proceed with their project.Program popularityGrape Growers of Ontario officials aren’t surprised by the intense grower demand.CEO Debbie Zimmerman says farmers use the money for a variety of items, such as weather mitigation measures and machines to improve vineyard production and sustainability.“It’s an important program,” Zimmerman says. It helps growers mechanize their vineyards and invest in innovation. You get to try some new strategies to help grow grapes in a cold climate.”Bottom LineWine grape growers continue to invest in improvements to their production.
August 30, 2017, Washington, D.C. - With the produce department facing its second consecutive quarter of decreased sales, understanding consumer exposure to new products and how they engage with food will help retailers meet changing needs as the produce department, according to the United Fresh Produce Association’s Q2 2017 edition of the FreshFacts® on Retail report.This quarter’s report features seasonal category deep dives on apples, potatoes and lettuce with a close look at important Q4 2016 vs. Q4 2015 results to help companies plan for a successful Q4 2017. A spotlight on organic produce, which represents 10 per cent of all produce sales, showcases purchasing trends and commodities that still have room for growth in the organic sector. The report also looks at value-added fruits and vegetables, including a continued feature on the packaged salad category.Building on Q1 2017’s report on fresh produce at convenience stores, the Q2 2017 report explores produce’s role in healthy snacking more broadly. “Consumers are seeking healthy options, and produce departments are seeing competition for dollar share as healthy snack options are featured in all corners of the retail store,” says Jeff Oberman, United Fresh Vice President of Trade Relations and United Fresh’s Retail-Foodservice Board liaison. “However, there is great potential for produce companies to find success in cross-merchandising and partnerships with other food companies to maintain a presence with the consumer across the store, which will help retailers continue to fresh produce sales success.”The FreshFacts® on Retail report, produced in partnership with Nielsen Fresh and input and direction from the United Fresh Retail-Foodservice Board of Directors, measures retail price and sales trends for the top 10 fruit and vegetable commodities as well as other value-added produce categories. The report is sponsored by Del Monte Fresh Produce.For more information, visit www.unitedfresh.org
August 25, 2017, Aurora, Ont. - The Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association (OFFMA) has launched its new PYO video series. PYO has been an option that farmers have been offering for decades. PYO has been experiencing a resurgence in popularity as more and more people want to connect with their food and understand how it is grown. Thus, it is more attractive than ever for consumers to visit farms and pick their own fruits and vegetables.The videos can be found on the Ontario Farm Fresh website:http://ontariofarmfresh.com/consumers/Apple season will be starting shortly and it would be beneficial for consumers to review the short video before they head out to their favourite apple farm. PYO guidelines are presented in a friendly, interesting manner to ensure that consumers have a safe and enjoyable experience on the farm. Upon viewing the video they will be better prepared knowing what to expect from their farm visit.OFFMA is a voluntary membership based organization that works with farmers who market directly to the consumer. OFFMA’s mission is to provide knowledge and leadership to help grow the farm fresh experience.
August 18, 2017, Vancouver, British Columbia – The governments of Canada and British Columbia are working under the AgriRecovery disaster framework to determine the type of assistance that may be required by British Columbia’s agriculture sector to recover from the impact of wildfires. The announcement was made following the first meeting between Federal Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay and B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham.Government officials are working together to quickly assess the extraordinary costs farmers are incurring and what additional assistance may be required to recover and return to production following the wildfires. The types of costs under consideration include: Costs related to ensuring animal health and safety. Feed, shelter and transportation costs. Costs to re-establish perennial crop and pasture production damaged by fire. "Our Government stands with producers in British Columbia who are facing challenges and hardships because of these wildfires. Together, with our provincial counterparts, we will work closely with affected producers to assess the full scope of their needs and help them get back in business as quickly as possible," Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food said. 
August 18, 2017 - The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) recently held an AgriWorkforce Roundtable to discuss challenges and possible solutions to address the critical agricultural labour shortage in Canada.Participants included primary producers, processors, retailers, policy makers and academics – all putting their heads together to come up with new solutions to what is becoming a persistent problem; how do you attract and retain farm workers?Marc Smith, retired Assistant Director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva and Senior Extension Associate opened the discussion with an international perspective on shared agricultural labour challenges among the United States and Canada.Smith started off by identifying several trends in the U.S. agricultural labour climate:• Regardless of government policy, people seeking employment in agriculture will be scarce.• Economic and other motivations to develop and adopt labour-saving technologies are growing.• Political and economic pressures will force minimal wages higher in many states.• Perception of agriculture as an unattractive field for careers is a perennial challenge.The consequences of these U.S. agricultural labour trends has resulted in a 20 per cent decline in available agricultural workers between 2002-14; an annual loss of US $3.1B to fruit and vegetable production due to labour shortages; and a declining U.S.-born population willing to work on farms.In Canada the gap between labour demand and the domestic workforce in agriculture has doubled from 30,000 to 59,000 in the past 10 years and projections indicate that by 2025, the Canadian agri-workforce could be short workers for 114,000 jobs. This was a key finding of Labour Market Information (LMI) research by CAHRC entitled Agriculture 2025: How the Sector’s Labour Challenges Will Shape its Future. The LMI research also revealed that Canadian primary agriculture had the highest industry job vacancy rate at seven per cent - higher than any other industry in Canada. This resulted in $1.5-billion in lost sales.Poor worker compensation is often cited as the primary reason for low interest in working on farms. However, Smith notes that agricultural wages in the U.S. have gone up faster than any other sector in the past 10 years with the median wage being $13.23/hr ($17.76 Cdn) as of April 2017. In Canada, farm hourly rates averaged $17.50/hr in 2016.Smith advocates that wages alone are not the issue but rather what is needed is a coordinated effort to improve labour policy, on-farm workforce needs, and farm practices.Smith suggests that farmers need to develop realistic policies that attract and retain workers. Investment in leadership and management capacity within the agricultural industry is also needed to encourage innovation, research and development for long-term solutions to the already critical agricultural workforce.It is not enough to simply pay required wages and comply with regulations. Employee compensation should also include how workers are treated and have their needs accommodated such as providing housing, access to the internet, transportation, communications in their own language, offering English as a second language training, job training, flexible hours, and creating a sense of community. It is important to make workers feel welcomed, valued and confident.Finally, modifying farm practices to reduce the need for labour is another way to reduce on-farm workforce pressures. This may include adopting new technology that negates the need for human workers, changing crop mixes to less labour intensive commodities, or moving production operations to streamline efficiency.To help attract and retain a motivated workforce, CAHRC has developed several tools to help farm managers including: AgriSkills – customizable and commodity specific on-farm training programs; Agri HR Toolkit – an online resource guide and templates to address the HR needs of any business; and Agri Pathways – promoting careers in agriculture. For more information on these and other CAHRC offerings visit www.cahrc-ccrha.ca.In the meantime, Smith says producers should champion farmers that are doing a great job with their workers and get the word out that agriculture is a rewarding and fulfilling career with a strong future.

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