Production

Storytelling is a valuable skill in today’s society. Showcasing your business or that of a signature farm product with a story is one of the best marketing strategies you can have. Who doesn’t love a great story?
February 12, 2018, Guelph Ont – A not-for-profit food business incubator in Toronto is helping entrepreneurs get their fledgling food companies off the ground. Food Starter offers food prep, processing, packaging and storage facilities to industry entrants at a reduced rate, as well as courses to teach entrepreneurs about key aspects of the food industry, like food safety, regulatory compliance, labelling, accounting, marketing, business management and human resources. The Toronto Food Business Incubator partnered with the City of Toronto to access funding from Growing Forward 2 to develop and launch Food Starter in November 2015. “A lot of people here are good at recipes but don’t know about all the other things needed to run a food business,” explains Carlos Correia, Food Starter’s facility manager. “We cover all aspects of business development to give them information they didn’t know existed but would be road block to keep them from moving forward.” Food Starter’s incubator clients are new food entrepreneurs who access shared space by the hour on an as-needed basis to develop or perfect new recipes, scale up production or get ready to launch their first product. Esther Jiang has been using Food Starter’s training courses and incubator space to launch Gryllies, a line of high protein pasta sauces using cricket flour from Norwood, Ontario’s Entomo Farms. “Food Starter has been paramount to setting us up for success. In food, there are a lot of boxes to check and this is building that foundation to launch us for the market place,” she says. “Without Food Starter, everything would have taken 20 times longer and I don’t know that I would still be doing this if it wasn’t for their help.” Food Starter’s seven accelerator units are available for longer-term use where clients can bring their own equipment into a dedicated space but still receive support and advice from Food Starter experts and fellow entrepreneurs. Jaswant’s Kitchen is a family-run Indian spice blend company that co-owner Simi Kular says was ready for its own space to increase production and grow their business. “Food Starter has taught us what a food production facility entails, from food safety to pest control and Good Manufacturing Practices,” explains Simi. “And learning from the experts and the other businesses here is invaluable – the collaborative relationships make it fun to come to work every day.” Correia says the ultimate goal is to have entrepreneurs outgrow their accelerator space and move into their own facilities – like Rob Fuller of The Duke Brothers. His cold-brew coffee business has taken off after less than a year with Food Starter and he’s ready to spread his wings. “I had an idea but not a lot of direction or background. I learned a lot from Food Starter’s courses and being able to use the space here,” he explains. “Food Starter encourages you to grow, they understand your business, and I’ve had a quick growth curve from start to running a business thanks to their support.” According to Correia, Food Starter meets a critical need for early stage training and support for new food businesses in Toronto, and space in the incubator is in demand. “Our main focus is to develop business. We create jobs and we’ve already seen some of those results as companies here at Food Starter are hiring staff as they grow,” says Correia. “We couldn’t develop this without the funding we’ve received. Food Starter is an amazing concept that gives a lot of benefit to new start-ups, and this facility wouldn’t be possible without that support,” he adds.
I am envious of people who, at least from the outside, look like they have their life together and in order. They have a successful business but are not working 24/7/365 just to pay their bills. They take holidays at least once a year and maybe more often. They seem to be able to make a decision and go with it.
Love for asparagus is growing in the U.S., Canada and Europe, which is music to the ears of those at Asparagus Farmers of Ontario (AFO) and its offshoot seed firm, Fox Seeds.
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.
January 3, 2018, Peterborough, Ont – Several local producers say they're facing expulsion from the Peterborough, Ont., farmers market because of their campaign to increase transparency among fellow vendors, just months after a CBC Marketplace investigation revealed two vendors were not being upfront about the provenance of their fruits and veggies. The group on the chopping block includes four produce farms and three artisans, who are also part of the campaign to stand up for local producers over resellers peddling wholesale goods from elsewhere. READ MORE
February 15, 2018 – Potatoes used for crisps and chips are usually stored at eight degrees – a temperature high enough to prevent starch from breaking down into glucose and fructose. To slow sprouting, potato producers often use a suppressant like chlorpropham, a chemical the European Union (EU) is looking to phase out due to health concerns. Hoping to find an alternative to chemical sprout suppressors, the EU-funded GENSPI (Genomic Selection for Potato Improvement) project has developed a genetic marker system to identify plants that display a resistance to glucose and fructose formation. Their tubers can be stored at three or four degrees, low enough to keep sprout growth at bay for very long periods. “Glucose and fructose formed during cold storage can cause very dark fry colours, leaving potato crisps and chips with an unacceptably bitter taste. The sugars can also cause a build-up of acrylamide, a potential carcinogen,” says Dan Milbourne, GENSPI project coordinator. GENSPI developed new genomic selection breeding methodologies that will allow potato breeders to select the varieties of potato that seem to be resistant to sweetening at low temperatures. To do this, researchers gathered a large collection of potato plants and fried thousands of tubers – the equivalent to 10,000 bags of potato crisps – that had been held in different storage conditions. They then measured their colour once fried and drew the links between fry colour and the genetic variation of the plant. “Because the fry colour is controlled by many genes the best approach was to scan the genome for variation at many sites to find correlations between colour and genetic variation,” explains Milbourne. Researchers then used the latest techniques in genome sequences – known as next generation sequencing – to identify over 100,000 regions across the genome where the DNA sequence varied among the plants. They combined data on variation on the potato phenotype and genome to build statistical models that could predict fry colour from DNA sequencing information. “From the 100,000 regions showing genetic variation between the breeding lines, we were able to identify a smaller number of DNA markers that gave us a good ability to predict fry colour,” says Stephen Byrne, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow who carried out the research. “This means we can develop an inexpensive DNA-based test to predict fry colour that can be applied to tens of thousands of plants in a potato breeding program.” Traditionally, potato breeders inter-cross plant varieties to produce up to 100,000 seedlings, and then eliminate poorly performing plant types over a period of 10 years. Varieties that are resistant to glucose and fructose formation can only be identified at the end of this time, meaning that many potential varieties have already been eliminated from the breeding process.  GENSPI carried out its research in collaboration with a commercial potato breeding program led by Denis Griffin. Its newly-developed technique allows resistant plants to be identified early in the 10-year breeding program. The team hopes the project will lead to the release of one or more varieties that give an excellent fry colour even at low-temperature storage, avoiding chemical sprout suppressants. “We hope to see these varieties released in the next five years,” concludes Griffin.
February 15, 2018, Fredericton, NB – After years of research and development, 15 of the newest varieties of potatoes were displayed in Fredericton to give growers a starchy taste of the future. Each year, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Research and Development Centre in Fredericton hosts a fair of sorts, where researchers get to show off new varieties to farmers and companies. READ MORE  
January 17, 2018, Guelph, Ont – Vast amounts of data are being collected on Canada’s farms through the advent of precision agriculture technology and the Internet of Things (IOT). Many types of tools, equipment and devices gather data on everything from crop yields to how many steps an animal takes in a day. However, much of that data is underutilized because it’s collected by systems that don’t or can’t communicate with each other. The need for better decision-making on farms through better data use resulted in Ontario Precision Agri-Food (OPAF), a partnership of agricultural organizations led by Ontario Agri-Food Technologies (OAFT) that’s developing an open agri-food innovation platform to connect and share data. The goal, according to lead director Dr. Karen Hand of Precision Strategic Solutions, is getting data, wherever it exists (both data repositories in industry or government and data generated by countless sensors) so it can be used to help advance important food production issues like food safety, traceability and plant and animal disease surveillance. For example, information about the prevalence and control of insect pests like cutworms that damage soybean crops lies with many different people and organizations, including university and government researchers, crop advisors, input suppliers and farmers. “There is no single spot where all of the information about a particular pest can be accessed in a robust, science-based system and used in decision-making and that’s where OPAF’s platform will help,” Hand said. Pilot projects are underway with Ontario’s grain, dairy and poultry producers to identify their needs in areas like crop protection, sustainability and food safety and how OPAF can provide data-driven solutions to benefit farmers. “We sit down with farmers, advisors, associations, government and researchers to find out what data they have, where they exist and if we were able to connect them, what value or benefit that would offer participants – either specific to the commodity they are producing or on larger food-related issues such as food safety or impact on trade,” she explains.And OPAF’s efforts are gaining global recognition. Earlier this year, Internet of Food and Farm 2020, a large project in the European Union exploring the potential of IOT technologies of European food and farming, recognized OPAF as one of three global projects to collaborate with. “This is going to be changing the face of data enablement in Canada and contributing globally,” said Tyler Whale of Ontario Agri-Food Technologies (OAFT). “We are creating a platform that is the base of something new, and although we are piloting this in Ontario, it will be available nationwide to those who want to use it.” OPAF partners include OAFT, University of Guelph, University of Waterloo, Niagara College, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, Livestock Research Innovation Corporation, Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, Grain Farmers of Ontario, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Farm Credit Canada, Ontario Agri-Business Association, Bioindustrial Innovation Canada, and Golden Horseshoe Farm and Food Alliance. This project was funded by Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists with GF2 delivery in Ontario.
January 4, 2018, Fredericton, NB – Chemicals in the leaves of potato plants – produced naturally by the plant – may hold the key to a new way to control Colorado potato beetles. Dr. Helen Tai, an Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) research scientist, has turned to the leaves growing on wild potato relatives, leaves that beetles won’t eat, as a new approach to keep the pest away. Many plants in the potato family contain natural defence chemicals that protect plants against insects and pathogens. Using mass spectrometry and other sophisticated tools, Dr. Tai was able to identify what it is in the wild potato plant leaves that make the beetle avoid them. Potato breeders at the Fredericton Research and Development Centre used cross breeding of a wild relative with common popular potato varieties to develop a potato with built in beetle resistance. Not all of the potatoes from the cross carry the resistance, but the profile that Dr. Tai discovered identifies which ones do. “Breeding new potato varieties resistant to beetle feeding, now in the advanced stages, opens the way to a new era where potato growers could reduce pesticide spray applications for insect control,” said Dr. Tai. Colorado potato beetles are already showing a resistance to the popular pesticides used by potato growers adding to the need for new solutions. Dr. Tai sees use of beetle resistant varieties together with integrated pest management methods as an alternative approach to mitigate pesticide resistance. These resistant potato varieties can provide growers with an option to avoid serious crop losses. Two of these new resistant potatoes are already in the breeding program and available to industry to trial.
January 2, 2018 – The science behind the home-pregnancy test is now being trialled to detect the presence of diseases that can devastate fields of vegetable crops, including Brussels sprouts. Current trials are underway to help protect crops of Brassicas – sprouts, broccoli, cabbage – and onions. Diseases including ring spot, light leaf spot and downy mildew are being monitored. Ring spot in Brassicas is a foliar disease, which if not treated can lead to the loss of 30 per cent of crop. The test, known as a lateral flow device (LFD), picks up the presence of infective spores carried in the air around crops in the field. Used alongside weather data, test results could indicate how likely a disease is to develop, allowing growers to decide if crop protection methods are needed or not. Further development work is underway, so growers can gain immediate results, without needing to send samples to laboratories for further testing. The project is the result of an industry partnership between growers, AHDB Horticulture, Warwickshire College and Mololgic Ltd. “When it’s fully developed, this simple low-cost tool, allowing growers to test whether there is a risk of diseases developing on their crops, will help prevent significant financial losses and reduce the need to use conventional methods to protect their crops,” said Cathryn Lambourne, senior scientist with AHDB. “Over the last four years, we’ve been developing the lateral flow device test, demonstrating how simple and effective it is, to give growers the confidence to rely on the results and make appropriate decisions for their business.” “This could be a big game changer for growers,” added Carl Sharp, an agronomist at the Allium and Brassica Centre. “If we can get kit like this developed to take out with us, within ten minutes of walking into a field, growers will have results which show what they need to do to protect their crops.”  Downy mildew in onions can cause damage of up to 50 per cent of individual crops if severe and, in a particularly bad year, the whole industry could see crop losses of up to 25 per cent. This same disease could wipe out a whole field of salad onion. “The long period between the disease affecting the crop and the symptoms appearing, which are a characteristic of many of the diseases tested, can lead to devastating diseases becoming established in crops turning them into waste,” said Euam Alexander, field operations manager with Kettle Produce in the UK. “Using these tests will allow us to select the appropriate fungicide and time application as part of our crop management strategy, before the disease renders any of the crops unmarketable.” In addition to the common pregnancy test, LFDs are used to detect human diseases including colo-rectal cancer, cardiac issues and drug abuse screening. The LFD tests are also being developed to detect for other plant diseases. The AHDB is funding the University of Worcester to develop lab tests and LFDs to test for oomycete pathogens, which cause diseases like blight and sudden oak death. Primarily testing is focused on root, stem and crown rots caused by Pythium and the Phytophthora species, commonly known as ‘the plant destroyer’, which can affect a range of crops.  Through the same funding, Warwickshire Colleges and Stockbridge Technology Centre are developing and testing two LFDs to test glasshouse air samples for powdery mildew and gummy stem blight, which affect cucumber crops. Canker in apple tree crops is being investigated in a separate research program.
December 20, 2017, Saguenay, Que – Common scab is one of the most important diseases affecting potato crops worldwide. But researchers with the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi have discovered that using fresh residues and/or bio-products from Canadian goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) may offer an alternative to conventional fumigants. In the study, researchers conducted a preliminary investigation of the utilization of S. canadensis to reduce common scab severity, and determined the allopathic potentials of S. canadensis extracts on Streptomyces scabiei (also known as S. scabies). Compared with control plants, preliminary results showed that adding 1.2 kg of fresh S. canadensis residue per m2 reduced scab severity by about 45 per cent. Furthermore, concentrations of hexane and dichloromethane extracts from S. Canadensis inhibited the growth of S. scabiei by about 97 per cent. The results were comparable with those using tetracycline, a known inhibitor of S. scabiei. Both experiments suggested that S. canadensis may represent a new approach for controlling potato common scab. More studies are required to better understand the mechanisms involved in S. canadensis induced reduction of common scab in order to standardize the approaches.
November 21, 2017, Windsor, Ont – Product traceability is critical for food processors, and an Essex County company specializing in agricultural automation has been helping them sustainably improve for 27 years. “Automation was almost non-existent in agriculture 30 years ago, but there was obviously a need for it,” says Joe Sleiman, founder and president of Ag-Tronic Control Systems, an automation technology company based near Windsor. “We started by looking at ways to help local produce growers improve efficiency, and do so in a more sustainable way. Now we have clients throughout Canada, the United States, and Mexico, and we’re in the process of expanding to South America, Europe and Australia,” he says. Together with his wife Samia, Sleiman started Ag-Tronic Control Systems in 1991 to market and improve his own automation equipment. At the time, that included a height control system for tomato harvesters, tractor guidance equipment, and a plant watering system. With these accomplishments, Sleiman was asked by local greenhouse growers to design a better cucumber grading system, and improve a labelling system for tray packed tomatoes. The market success of those tomatoes, though, created a new challenge: the mislabelling of produce once tomatoes were removed and repackaged. This caused losses at the retail level, prompting the same growers to request a labelling system that could apply stickers directly to the tomato body instead of the packing box. With the success of his new direct-label system, Sleiman created a sub-company called Accu-Label Inc. in 2001. Under the Accu-Label brand, he developed both an automated label machine and biodegradable, paper stickers. Combined with a recyclable liner – the parchment on which the stickers sit – he started marketing his product as both cost-saving and more sustainable than those using plastic stickers. “Our goal was to provide better performance with more sustainably,” he says. “Plastic stickers are already used, but no one wants to eat that. People also hate that they can’t be recycled.” A number of additional technologies were also created, including a handheld unit for smaller packers, and a larger portable machine that lets food retailers put their own brand onto a product wherever and whenever they require. A more user-friendly labelling machine was unveiled in 2008 that negated potential problems associated with the labeller’s liner removal system. “We developed a system to print labels on-the-go, including bar and trace codes,” says Sleiman. “That means marketers can get both traceability and their own brand right on the produce in a safe, efficient way.” More recently, Sleiman launched a camera attachment that automatically monitors labels after printing. This, he says, helps ensure each sticker is printed properly, and further improves product traceability. “We’re providing this for free to everyone who has our Print & Apply brand label machines,” he says. “It’s part of our commitment to ensure our customers continue to have the latest and best fruit labeling technology.”
For the last 32 years, a typical day running Whittamore’s Farm in Markham during the busy planting and tourism season has started at 5:30 a.m. – at the latest. At the agri-tainment powerhouse farm business, Mike Whittamore has owned and operated the farm’s Pick-Your-Own fruit and vegetable business, and his brother, Frank, and Frank’s wife Suzanne have owned and operated the onsite Farm Shop (freshly-picked produce, baked goods and preserves) as well as the Fun Farm Yard and Pumpkinland, both replete with farm-themed activities.
It’s often been said that a grape grower’s heart and soul is in the vineyard. Even though Ontario’s new grape king, Doug Whitty, may be the latest of three kings to either own or have strong ties to one winery, he believes that future royalty will be stand-alone growers, as in the past.
When Tahir Raza came to Canada from Pakistan in 1994, he did not expect to be an owner of an award-winning orchard.
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 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.
January 30, 2018, Edmonton, Alta – Sour cherries and haskap (blue honeysuckles) are excellent fruit crops to grow in Alberta, with lots of potential markets for these tasty berries. These are relatively new crops in Alberta, with many changes and developments in the industry over the past five years. Alberta Agriculture and Forestry has organized a full day workshop in Olds, Alta., to provide new or potential sour cherry and haskap producers with information on all aspects of growing these crops, from planting to harvest. Participants will receive information on varietal selection, establishment, maintenance and harvest of both fruit crops, as well as more detailed information that applies to more advanced growers, in an evening session. Economic realities and the importance of understanding and identifying target markets will also be covered. Date: February 21, 2018 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. – Registration 9 a.m. to noon – Dwarf sour cherry sessions Noon to 12:40 p.m. – Lunch (lunch and snacks provided) 12:40 p.m. to 4 p.m. – Economics and introductory haskap sessions 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. – Advanced haskap sessions Location: Pomeroy Inn and Suites at Olds College, 4601 46 Avenue, Olds, Alta.Cost: $20 per person (plus GST), full day, includes lunch, snacks and reference materials for each farm operation; $10/person (plus GST) (afternoon/evening advanced haskap sessions only) Participants are asked to register in advance by calling the Ag-Info Centre Registration line at 1-800-387-6030 before to Feb. 14, 2018, to assist with planning. On-line registration is also available.
B.C. grape growers and winemakers were treated to a day in the vineyard with an Italian viticulture expert, as part of the Triggs International Premium Vinifera Lecture Series.
Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Association’s 2017 orchard tour focused on innovations and research trials in members’ orchards.
November 1, 2017, Simcoe, Ont – Members of the Ontario South Coast Wineries and Growers Association are finishing a good second consecutive harvest that will let them draw even more distance away from disastrous seasons a few years ago. "The 2016 growing season brought a good quality harvest and this year will be almost as good," said Mike McArthur, co-owner of Burning Kiln Winery on Front Road just outside St. Williams, who earlier this year finished an eight-year stint as the association's founding chairman. READ MORE
October 27, 2017, Coldbrook, NS – Federal government representatives were at Scotian Gold’s Coldbrook facility recently to announce an investment of up to $1.75 million in support of the cooperative’s new state-of- the-art apple packing facility. The investment enabled Scotian Gold to expand its facility and to purchase and install two new-to-Atlantic high efficiency production lines. With the facility expansion and new technology, Scotian Gold expects to grow its sales and demand of premium, Nova Scotia-grown apples, both in Canada and in the Unites States. "The new facility is an example of Scotian Gold's willingness to invest in the future of our growers, our employees and the apple industry,” said David Parrish, president and CEO of Scotian Gold Cooperative Ltd. “Over the next number of years, the apple volume will increase for varieties such as Honeycrisp, Ambrosia and SweeTango. This facility will have the capability to supply Scotian Gold's expanding markets in a timely and efficient manner." Scotian Gold Cooperative is the largest apple packing and storage operation in Eastern Canada.
October 25, 2017, Kingsville, Ont – Mucci Farms recently announced the completion of the second phase of its 36 acre strawberry expansion. The company also announced that Phase Three construction is underway with production to begin in Fall 2018. The full project will be equivalent to more than 1.5 million square feet of high-tech glass exclusively growing strawberries, the largest in North America. "Our strawberry program is being met with a great deal of enthusiasm from current and potential retail partners because of our emphasis on premium flavour and consistent supply," explained Danny Mucci, vice president of Mucci Farms. Since partnering with Dutch growers Ton Bastiaansen and Joost van Oers in January 2016, Mucci Farms has seen accelerated growth and a greater demand for greenhouse-grown strawberries. "Overwhelming, is the best way I can describe how our Smuccies are being received,” said Joe Spano, vice president of sales and marketing. “Super sweet, clean, on the shelf within 24 hours of harvest and grown in an environment that is unaffected by inclement weather. Even better, they are grown locally in Ontario so that consumers can enjoy summer fresh strawberries during the holiday season." Phase Three of the expansion will include state-of-the-art lit culture technology, allowing Mucci Farms to offer strawberries during the winter months. A technology they are well experienced with, Mucci Farms also owns more than 200 acres of greenhouses, 30 of which are currently growing lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers year-round. "As with all of our new greenhouses, the new 24 acres of strawberries will also include the use of diffused glass which reduces stress on the plants by providing even sunlight," said Bert Mucci, CEO at Mucci Farms. "We will continue to use high-pressure fogging systems to cool down the greenhouse in the hotter months and also install the swing gutter system which allow for the amount of maximum plants per square meter."
Efforts to develop sweet potatoes into a commercial crop for Manitoba farmers are showing good progress at two locations in the province.
February 8, 2018, Lucky Lake, Sask – Some new life is being breathed into a massive potato facility once owned by the Saskatchewan government. In the 1990s, the provincial government spent millions of dollars trying to develop the provincial potato industry before abandoning the plan completely. Now, Vancouver-based United Greeneries plans to open a marijuana facility in a massive 60,000 square foot facility once owned by Spudco in Lucky Lake, roughly 130 kilometres southwest of Saskatoon. READ MORE
January 22, 2018, Edmonton, Alta – There are a number of pests that affect potatoes in Alberta every year, to varying levels of severity, depending on the year, the type and market of potatoes, as well as the location. Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, in partnership with the Potato Growers of Alberta, has organized a series of workshops for fresh/table, seed and processing potato growers in Alberta. Participants will receive information on a number of pests (insects, diseases, weeds) and their impact, identification and management in various types of potatoes. Expert speakers have been brought in (live or pre-recorded) from across North America. Producers may attend one of two workshops in Sherwood Park (March 6) or Lethbridge (March 8). A maximum of two attendees from each farm operation may attend. The cost to attend these workshops is $15 per person (plus GST), which includes lunch and resource materials for each farm operation. Participants are asked to register in advance by calling the Ag-Info Centre Registration line at 1-800-387-6030 prior to February 27, 2018 to assist with planning, or register on-line.
December 27, 2017, Fredericton, NB – Two Canadian potato companies are celebrating Canada 150 by giving newly licensed potato varieties developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) a link to Canada. The new potatoes – called AAC Confederation and AAC Canada Gold-Dorée – were recently named by Progest 2001 Inc. based out of Sainte-Croix, Quebec, and Canadian Eastern Seed Growers Inc. based out of New Brunswick, respectively. The “AAC” in both names is a nod to their AAFC origins! Both company presidents are really excited about the commercial potential these potatoes possess and feel they could rival Yukon Gold. AAFC potato breeder Dr. Benoit Bizimungu couldn’t agree more and describes both potatoes as having good yield and disease resistance profiles that makes them more profitable to produce and can be considered an improvement on Yukon Gold. “Taste and texture are important,” said André Gagnon, president of Progest 2001 Inc. “We need tasty special potatoes that fit customer needs. We feel that AAC Confederation has the potential to become a popular yellow variety for consumers.” When naming AAC Canada Gold Dorée, André Côté – co-owner of the Eastern Seed Growers Inc. with his brother, Eric Côté – said they were inspired by this potato’s golden colour when choosing its name. “We chose AAC Canada Gold-Dorée for its golden flesh and its golden potential as a winner in the markets.” Both AAC Confederation and AAC Canada Gold-Dorée are graduates of the AAFC potato breeding program, based in Fredericton, NB. “A lot of work goes into developing a new potato variety,” said Dr. Benoit Bizimungu, a research scientist with AAFC. “For instance, the AAC Canada Gold-Dorée was six years in development before being released in 2015 to the potato industry to be evaluated of commercial potential. It is no surprise that the potato was taken up so quickly by the industry because it has great attributes.” Dr. Bizimungu believes this latest licensing demonstrates the breeding program is making progress in identifying the kind of potatoes the industry needs and shows the value of the department’s national breeding program. Each year under the Accelerated Release Program, AAFC releases 10 to 15 potato selections during a special Potato Release Open House for industry to consider. These potatoes provide options to best meet the needs of Canadian consumers and producers. If industry likes what they see, they can conduct field trials of the selections and eventually bid for sole evaluation rights. As for AAC Confederation and AAC Canada Gold-Dorée, the two companies expect to begin selling seed for the two new varieties by 2020.
December 11, 2017, Charlottetown, PEI – P.E.I. has experienced a lower potato crop yield than usual this year and has been forced to ship in spuds from other areas of the country to make up for it.​ The province remains Canada's heaviest hitter in terms of potato production, producing roughly 25 per cent of the country's annual yield. However, dry weather conditions over the summer reduced the Island crop yield by about eight per cent this year — the largest drop among major growers in Canada. READ MORE
October 26, 2017, Portage la Prairie, Man – Many Manitoba potato growers faced nail-biting times this autumn as they struggled to get the crop off. In the end, however, yields are expected to be similar to last year. Dave Sawatzky, manager of Keystone Potato Producers Association, said he predicts yields will roughly be on par or slightly better than 2016’s harvest, when Manitoba potato growers brought in 348 hundredweight per acre on average. READ MORE

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