Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

Features Fruit Production
Getting started in fruit, veg production in Alberta


February 9, 2011
By Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development

Topics

NEWS HIGHLIGHT

Getting started in fruit, veg production in Alberta
Almost
every winter, there is an upswing in the interest in horticulture crop
production, either as an entirely new business opportunity or as a
diversification option.

February 9, 2011 – Almost
every winter, there is an upswing in the interest in horticulture crop
production, either as an entirely new business opportunity or as a
diversification option.

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The interest in
direct-marketed fruits and vegetables has been increasing, and definitely
merits a closer look.

“Vegetable and berry
production is inherently unique and diverse, and when considering entry into
this industry, there are several key areas to factor into the decision-making
process,” says Rob Spencer, commercial horticulture specialist with Alberta
Agriculture and Rural Development
.

There are often a number
of crops grown on a single farm, which increases the level of management that
is required. Scale can be deceptive, particularly when compared to conventional
farming operations. Also, consider the target market channel and the necessary
skill sets and plans that are required, remembering that some crops will
require specialized equipment. Labour is an issue in most crop production
systems, but can be a significant factor in fruits and vegetables. Good quality
soil and access to quality water are also key factors to consider when starting
and maintaining a successful operation. Consider the typical growing season
length when deciding about which crops to grow.

“These and many other
factors should be carefully outlined and considered during the detailed
planning process,” says Spencer. “Gathering as much information as possible is
critical, and talking to existing producers can be a useful way of gathering
practical ideas on how to be successful.

“If you are interested in
starting a fruit or vegetable crop operation, or have recently done so, and are
looking to increase your knowledge, attendance at the annual Berry &
Vegetable School
would be worth your while. This annul school provides training
on introductory fruit and vegetable production and provides an opportunity to
mix and mingle with other producers of all experience levels.”

The Berry & Vegetable
School 2011
is being held in Nisku, Alta, on March 3 and 4, 2011. The early
registration deadline is February 24, 2011. For program and registration
information, visit www.albertafarmfresh.com.