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OMAFRA welcomes new vegetable crop specialists for the 2020 season

February 5, 2020  By Fruit and Vegetable

Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) welcomed two new additions to the vegetable crops team.

Cassandra Russel will start Feb. 10, 2020 with a focus on tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, sugar beets and red beets.

Andrew Wylie started on Feb. 4, 2020 and will be focusing on sweet corn, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, squash, beans, peas and asparagus.


In previous roles, Cassandra Russel worked directly with OMAFRA’s greenhouse and field vegetable specialists to collaborate with growers and industry on research projects to address pepper weevil. Russel is also an entomologist who has lead the Guelph Bug Day education event to educate community members about insects.

Andrew Wylie is originally from Wiarton, Ont. where he grew up growing vegetables and building his family’s specialty mushroom operation. Wylie then went on to co-found Heritage Organic Research Co. Ltd. (Herio) in 2007, where he developed novel nutrition and IPM strategies that are being used in organic greenhouses across North America. During his Ph.D. at Simon Fraser University, Andrew developed a system to assess microbial biocontrols for organic vegetable production systems.

Dennis Van Dyk will be returning as OMAFRA’s root vegetable specialist on Feb. 18, 2020.

Other OMAFRA specialists include Tyler Blauel (potatoes, carrots, rutabaga, turnip, parsnips, radish, horseradish) and Travis Cranmer (onions, garlic, leeks, celery, head Brassicas, leaf Brassicas, leafy greens, spinach). Contact information for any of the OMAFRA specialists can be found online.

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