Marg Land

Marg Land

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According to recent reports from south of the border, two senators from North Dakota are asking their federal government to investigate allegations that Canadian growers are dumping potatoes into the U.S. market.

The proof? Over the past few years, there’s been a surge in potato imports from Canada to the U.S. [$212 million worth of fresh potatoes in 2015-2016] while demand for U.S. spuds has decreased. A recent report from Potatoes USA showed exports of fresh U.S. potatoes bound for Canada have dropped 13.5 per cent from July 2017 to June 2018. And U.S. producers believe this is due to Canadian protectionist trade practices and a sign the government is subsidizing the industry.

But, according to reports in Canadian media, growers in the Great White North are merely benefiting from a favourable exchange rate. And the only government support they are receiving is through loans that need to be matched 50/50 by the recipient and repaid over 10 years.

Senator John Hoeven (Rep) and Senator Heidi Heitkamp (Dem) have both come out strong against Canada, accusing their northern neighbour of “unfair treatment” of American potatoes.

“Red River Valley potato growers have a strong case to be made that Canada has unfairly limited their profits and narrowed their fair market access,” Heitkamp said.

“Canada remains one of our closest friends and allies, but we still need, and our farmers deserve, reciprocity in trade,” Hoeven said. “That’s why we continue urging the administration to address Canada’s unfair treatment of American agriculture exports. Our trading partners would never tolerate this kind of treatment from the U.S.”

This isn’t the only trade woe facing the U.S. potato industry. According to a recent report from Potatoes USA, the U.S. potato market share to Mexico has dropped to 76 per cent from 82 per cent from July 2017 to June 2018 as the European Union and Canada made significant gains in the market.
Move over Red Delicious – there’s a new top apple in town.

The U.S. Apple Association [US Apple] recently announced that after 50-plus years of being the number one produced apple in the United States, the Red Delicious has been surpassed by Gala.

“The rise in production of newer varieties of apples aimed at the fresh consumption market has caused demand for Red Delicious to decline,” said Mark Seetin, director of regulatory and industry affairs with US Apple, during the association’s 2018 outlook conference.

The top five apple varieties in 2018 – based on forecasted production numbers – are Gala, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Fuji and Honeycrisp. Golden Delicious is expected to drop out of the top five to sixth place in production numbers.

”However, Red Delicious is important in the export market, where it makes up roughly half of our apple exports,” Seetin added.

The top five export markets for U.S. apples include Mexico, India, Canada, Taiwan and Vietnam.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has forecast the 2018 U.S. crop at 272.7 million bushels, making it the fourth largest recorded crop.

At $3.55 billion, farm gate value of the U.S. 2017 crop was up three per cent over 2016 and set a new record.

US Apple’s 2018 Outlook conference is currently underway in Chicago, IL.
My husband is always reminding me not to read the online comment sections of news articles. “They’ll only aggravate you,” he says, before listing off the numerous times I’ve almost had a stroke yelling at my computer screen.
I had just settled comfortably into my office chair to wax poetic about the Red Delicious apple when disaster struck – someone beat me to it.
The frustration in the room was palpable.
February 9, 2018 – For growers, a fundamental element of integrated pest management is knowing what pest and beneficial species are in your fields. But what if there’s an insect and no one knows if it’s good or bad?

That was the situation for apple growers in Washington when it came to the European earwig. The bugs were there, but no one knew if they helped growers or harmed their crop.

In 2014, the same year Robert Orpet began his doctoral program, there was a bad outbreak of woolly apple aphids in Washington orchards.

“The trees looked like they were covered in snow,” he remembered. “It was very visible, and people don’t like that.”

Orpet was part of an interdisciplinary team looking into the aphid, and one of his tasks was to interview growers about natural predators. Although there was some scientific literature in Europe that suggested earwigs were aphid predators, very few growers named them as important beneficial natural enemies.

Many, in fact, said they thought earwigs were pests that damaged their apples because they’d found earwigs in cracks in their fruit.

Orpet had an idea why grower’s perceptions and the scientific literature might differ.

“Earwigs are active at night, so people don’t see them eating aphids,” he said. “They also move into tight spaces, a behavior called thigmotaxis, so it wasn’t clear if the insects were causing the damage to the fruit or just sheltering in the damage.”

Another possible explanation was that the European literature was just wrong.

“What literature there was tended to be observational and anecdotal,” he said. “The question had never been tested experimentally in a realistic field situation.”

So, with a graduate student grant from the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, Orpet designed an experiment to test the positive and negative effects of earwigs in apple orchards.

He set up experimental sections in four different orchards and, in each section, either added earwigs, removed earwigs or left them alone. Because of the insects’ small-space-seeking behaviour, they are easy to trap in corrugated cardboard rolls and move from one place to another.

The results were pretty clear.

First, earwigs are aphid predators. Not only did his numbers support that, he captured video of a single earwig completely consuming an aphid colony. (See it at youtube.com/watch?v=sSFakIgkfMI)

“We measured it in a few different ways, but the maximum amount of woolly apple aphids was two to three times greater in the trees with fewer earwigs than the trees with more earwigs. Earwigs did suppress the woolly apple aphid.”

The damage question was a bit more complex, but also came out in the earwigs’ favour.

“We inspected apples very close to harvest when the apples were ripe,” he explained. “I looked at about 12,000 apples on the trees in the sections were earwigs had been augmented and removed. Overall, 97 per cent of the apples were good, and the chance of finding a good apple were the same in both the augmented and removal areas.”

Orpet did find stem-bowl splitting in some apples – a flaw more common in the Gala variety – and there were earwigs in some of those splits. And in a handful – 17 apples in the augmented areas and five in the removal areas – those splits appeared to have been expanded by the insects.

“My conclusion was the earwigs didn’t cause the cracking but did exploit the existing damage,” he explained.

He’s scheduled to graduate in August and has already shared the findings at growers’ meetings: clear evidence that earwigs are beneficial natural predators in apple orchards.

And, if growers are still skeptical, Orpet can always call up the video.

Read more about the project at: projects.sare.org/sare_project/gw18-039/
Life was much simpler growing up during the 1970s and 1980s in rural Ontario. Well, I think it was. The rules were pretty straightforward – don’t steal, don’t lie, be home before dark, etc. You knew what was expected and what would happen if you didn’t meet those expectations.
November 14, 2017, Edmonton, Alta – The HortSnacks-to-Go 2017/2018 webinar series continues on November 20, 2017, with Using Biocontrols in Field Scale Fruit and Vegetable Crops.

“Presenter Ronald Valentin is North America technical lead at Bioline AgroSciences,” says Dustin Morton, commercial horticulture specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “He’ll be looking at how other areas of the world are using biological controls in field scale vegetable and fruit crops and how Alberta producers can take advantage of this growing area.”

The webinar takes place at 1:30 p.m. MT and there is no charge to attend. To register, email Dustin Morton or go to https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8212513318118325250
An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but the mould on it could destroy the fruit in storage.
According to my children – and myself at times – I’m ancient. I grew up in those heady days before TV remotes and hand-held video games, back when where you stood in a room played a role in whether the TV station would come in clear. I remember when personal computers became mainstream. My first PC was gigantic, composed of three heavy, bulky components that could each serve as a boat anchor. The PC was going to revolutionize work. Hello three-day workweek.
April 27, 2017, Summerland, BC – In preparation for the fall 2017 commercial launch of nonbrowning Arctic apples, Okanagan Specialty Fruits (OSF) has added produce industry veteran Jeanette De-Coninck-Hertzler as sales manager and Denise Everett as communications specialist to their team.

De-Coninck-Hertzler brings to OSF more than 30 years of produce sales experience. After obtaining a BSc, with a major in agricultural business management, from California Polytechnic State University, De-Coninck-Hertzler began her career as a sales representative with Frieda’s Inc. in 1985, where she worked for nearly 20 years before joining MCL Distributing, since re-named to 4Earth Farms, as a senior account manager. De-Coninck-Hertzler has since worked in various roles with Shamrock Foods Company, Greengate Fresh LLLP, and Index Fresh, Inc. As sales manager, she will serve as OSF’s sales contact for Arctic apples.

“Jeanette has a proven track record of sales in the produce industry, strong agricultural roots and a passionate personality,” says Jennifer Armen, OSF’s director of business development and marketing. “We look forward to her added experience as we introduce Arctic apples to consumers.”

Denise Everett will join the company on May 8 as the team’s communications specialist. Denise will be leading the company’s media relations, serving as OSF’s primary contact for interviews and executing on the company’s social media strategy. Everett has more than 15 years experience as a communications professional, and began her career in the journalism sector in B.C.

Also in May, OSF will welcome three new members to its research and development team, who will be working to improve additional apple varieties, as well as other tree fruits. Additionally, Jenavive Holmes has joined OSF as an administrative specialist.

OSF is also implementing role changes of current team members to further boost the scope of the team’s activities. Joel Brooks has transitioned from brand manager to brand marketing manager and Jessica Brady has transitioned from marketing and communications specialist to stakeholder outreach and education. In their new positions, Brooks will take a lead role in OSF’s branding, marketing and communications activities, and Brady will focus on outreach and relationship development with key influencer groups and organizations.

“It’s an exciting time for us here at OSF,” says Carter. “With so many strong additions to our team to help bring Arctic apples to eager consumers, we look forward to continued team growth and the introduction of additional wholesome and delicious apple varieties.”
A recent consumer news story had me both laughing and squirming with discomfort. The laughter was in response to the memory of a similar incident involving my children. The squirming was a basic, guttural human reaction.
You have to hand it to government and bureaucracy – they sometimes have a way of making even the most honest and supportive member of society turn into a negative naysayer with the mere swipe of a pen.
March 3, 2017, London, Ont – Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Jeff Leal, has appointed Elmer Buchanan, a farmer and former provincial ag minister, as trustee of the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers’ (OPVG) board.

“I have been closely monitoring the 2017 contract negotiations between Ontario's tomato growers and processors and was recently informed by growers, processors and the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission (OFPMC) that negotiations have reached an impasse, jeopardizing this year's crop season,” Leal said in a written public statement. “Risking this year's tomato crop, and the thousands of jobs that support it, is something I am not prepared to do.”

According to Minister Leal, Buchanan will temporarily assume the powers of the OPVG board to negotiate 2017 contracts, until elections for a new OPVG board can be held, preferably before Dec. 31, 2017.

In a letter to the OPVG board dated March 3, 2017, OMAFRA Deputy Minister Greg Meredith explained that the government of Ontario was forced to take immediate action by making a regulation under the Farm Products Marketing Act.

“This regulation is now in force and has the effect of terminating the terms of office of the members of OPVG holding office immediately before the regulation came into force and terminating the terms of office of the members of each district vegetable growers’ committee holding office immediately before the regulation came into force,” Meredith stated in the letter addressed to "Negotiating Agency Members."

“This was a difficult decision to make; however it was felt that action was needed to respond to what the government had heard from the OPVG itself, the [OFPMC] and industry stakeholders about the deteriorating state of negotiations and the need to ensure that negotiations continue so that contracts are in place for the 2017 processing vegetable crop.”

The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Processors’ Association (OFVPA) sent out a press release March 3, 2017, supporting the provincial government’s announcement.

“Working with our grower partners, we believe there is an excellent opportunity for improvement that will benefit the whole value chain,” said Steve Lamoure, president of the OFVPA. “We look forward to working jointly with the OPVG, their appointed trustee, and our grower partners in putting together the details of this progressive move.”
March 1, 2017, Calgary, Alta – Chateau herbicide, by Valent Canada, Inc. is now registered for use on broccoli and caneberry.

Broccoli and caneberry growers in Canada now have another tool to assist in the control of Group 2-acetolactate synthase (ALS) resistant weeds, such as red root pigweed, green pigweed, eastern black nightshade and common ragweed.

Chateau, containing flumioxazin (51.1 per cent), is a residual pre-emergent herbicide. A PPO inhibitor, Chateau’s mode of action is different than many other herbicides, so it helps fight resistance, while providing long-lasting control of tough weeds including Group 2-resistant weeds.

“Chateau has proven to be an effective herbicide on a wide range of crops” says Maria Dombrowsky, horticulture specialist at Nufarm Agriculture Inc. “I am pleased that this tool is now available to broccoli and caneberry growers for incorporation into their IPM program.”

Chateau should be used in rotation with other herbicide modes of action. Chateau is also registered for use on other crops, including pome fruit, blueberries and strawberries. For more information, consult the complete product label at www.nufarm.ca/product/chateau/.
In late January, I walked into the first afternoon of the Ontario Processing Vegetable Industry Conference with a swagger in my step. I was going to learn something that many in my sphere of influence were still struggling with: What to expect from a Trump presidency.
February 8, 2017, Ottawa, Ont – Effective April 1, 2017 CanadaGAP will introduce an unannounced audit program in response to new GFSI benchmarking requirements.

What is an unannounced audit?
  • Unannounced audits will not be scheduled in advance with the producer.
  • The certification body will provide two to five business days' notice that the auditor is coming.
  • An unannounced audit will take place instead of a scheduled audit (NOT additional to a scheduled audit).
  • The producer will pay the regular audit fee for the unannounced audit.
Only if needed, the certification body or auditor may contact you ahead of time (e.g., early in the season)
  • To confirm the scope of your operation's certification
  • To confirm in general when certain activities are occurring (e.g., harvesting, packing, shipping, etc.)
  • NOT to identify a specific time for the audit.
When will unannounced audits occur?
  • Like all CanadaGAP audits, unannounced audits must occur while activities relevant to the scope of your operation's certification are occurring.
  • You cannot block off "busy periods" like harvesting or shipping.
  • Unannounced audits can occur during periods of high activity.
Be audit-ready
  • You can refuse the first notification, for valid reasons as determined by the certification body.
  • You cannot refuse the second notification.
  • Not responding to the notification (phone or email) from the certification body or auditor will be considered an ACCEPTED notification. 
  • If you are not prepared to proceed with the audit when the auditor arrives, you will still be charged for the cost of the auditor's time and travel.
  • If possible, the auditor will return for another unannounced audit during the current season. Note that it may be impossible for the auditor to return during the current season due to scheduling demands.
  • In other words, not being prepared for the unannounced audit could put your operation's certification in jeopardy.
Who will be chosen for an unannounced audit?
  • The new unannounced audit program will be for those enrolled in CanadaGAP certification Options A1, A2, C and D. 
  • The certification body will choose five per cent of its clients each year.
  • Over time, all individually certified companies will have an unannounced audit.
  • Those enrolled in group certification Option B already have an unannounced component to their option. Option A3 will also see the introduction of an unannounced component in 2017. 
What about random audits?
  • If you are enrolled in CanadaGAP certification Option A1 or A2 (four-year audit cycle) 1) there is no change to your four-year audit cycle, and 2) there is no change to the way that random audits work.
  • You would still be informed in advance if you've been randomly selected for an audit. However, you may not be told the exact date of your audit. It could be an unannounced audit.
  • Likewise, if you already expect to be audited this year (because you are due for an audit in your four-year cycle), this audit could be unannounced.
  • "Unannounced" means you won't know more than two to five business days in advance of the date of your audit. You will still know in advance that you are having an audit sometime this year.
"Although certification options A1, A2 and A3 are not GFSI-recognized, the CanAgPlus board has chosen to include all certification options in the unannounced audit programme to improve the overall rigour of CanadaGAP certification," explained Heather Gale, executive director for CanadaGAP.

Why are unannounced audits being introduced?
  • To meet new GFSI requirements
  • To respond to market signals
  • To ensure that producers are maintaining their program on a continuing basis
"We need to be ready to demonstrate to our customers that CanadaGAP-certified companies can meet program requirements at any time," commented Jack Bates, chair of the CanAgPlus board.

A presentation outlining the new unannounced audit program is available on the CanadaGAP website at: http://www.canadagap.ca/publications/canadagap-presentations/.
February 8, 2017 – Walki, a producer of technical laminates and protective packaging materials, has developed an organic mulching solution based on natural biodegradable fibres instead of plastic.

Walki Agripap is made from kraft paper that is coated with a biodegradable coating layer, which slows down the degradation of the paper. Without the coating, the paper would degrade in the soil within a few weeks.

Walki’s new organic mulching solution has been the subject of extensive field-testing in Finland. The tests, which were carried out in 2016 by independent research institute Luke Piikkiö, compared the performance of different biodegradable mulches for growing iceberg lettuce and seedling onions. The tests demonstrated that Agripap was easy to lay on the fields and delivered excellent weed control. The results in terms of yield and durability were also good.

Following the successful testing and approval of Agripap in Finland and Sweden, the next step will be to complete testing in Europe’s main mulching markets: Spain, France and Italy.
‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the office, not a creature was stirring – except for whoever was pumping out those press releases from the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Processors’ Association (OFVPA), headquartered in Mitchell, Ont.
January 9, 2017 – Syngenta and DuPont Crop Protection recently announced the publication of a joint patent, focused on the development of a new herbicide chemistry class.

Collaboration on the project started in 2015 and has resulted in the joint patent entitled "Substituted cyclic amides and their use as herbicides." The new herbicide has entered into the pre-development stage and is expected to be launched in 2023.

“We are very pleased that our collaboration with Syngenta has extended into a joint research project for a new herbicide chemistry class,” said Timothy P. Glenn, president of DuPont Crop Protection. “Partnerships for the advancement of crop science and development of crop protection solutions help growers realize the potential in their fields.”

“We are excited to be working again with DuPont on this herbicide research and development project,” said Jon Parr, president for crop protection at Syngenta. “Success in this field will bring much needed new technology to farmers in the increasingly challenging area of weed management, including resistance.”
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