Production

Creating marketing campaigns for your business that also raise awareness for a social injustice or issue has become more and more commonplace in the last few years.
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.
St. Catherines, Ont. – The glass is half full when it comes to grape and wine research in Ontario. And it’s only getting fuller thanks to the efforts of Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI).The research institute, established in 1996 in partnership with the Grape Growers of Ontario, the Wine Council of Ontario, and the Winery and Grower Alliance of Ontario, has tackled significant vineyard and winemaking issues, elevating local tipple to world-class status in the process.It’s done so by taking on the multi-coloured Asian lady beetle, which can taint an entire vintage, and kept many bottles of wine tasting their finest in the process. It has 20 years of research dedicated to icewine production and authentication to ensure integrity for Canadian versions of the sweet nectar.The effects of climate change on grape growing, sparkling wine production, and resveratrol and the Ontario wine industry also get serious research attention at CCOVI to the benefit of Ontario vintners and grape growers.Most recently, CCOVI received nearly $2 million in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Research Fund to build its one-of-a-kind Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Sensory Reality Consumer Laboratory. It will be known as R3CL and will be the world’s first mediated-reality wine laboratory, combining sights, smells and sounds to help researchers study the science of consumer choice in the wine industry.CCOVI’s research is so vital to the industry that an economic impact study pegged its contribution to the Ontario economy at $91 million annually. It also creates the equivalent of more than 300 jobs a year thanks to its research outputs.Some of the most significant impacts can be credited to its cold hardiness research and flagship VineAlert program, which warns grape growers about cold weather events so they can use their wind machines and other techniques more effectively to protect their vines from cold damage.VineAlert spared more than $7 million in crop losses in 2014-15, which converted to nearly $74 million in wine sales.But CCOVI and its team of scientists, led by director Debbie Inglis, aren’t stopping there. Their work is positioning CCOVI to be the Canadian centre of excellence for cool climate viticulture, oenology, wine business, policy and culture with a mandate to advance the industry nationally, not just locally.CCOVI’s intrepid VineAlert program is being rolled out across Canada thanks to partnerships in Summerland, B.C., and Kemptville, N.S. Equipment and testing methods to determine cold hardiness are being tried on for size in both provinces right now.“We’re hoping within the next year that we’re going to be able to make the VineAlert program national,” Inglis said.The Fizz Club, which provides professional development, and shares knowledge and research among sparkling wine producers also went national in 2017. And CCOVI is developing a domestic, certified “clean plant” program for grapevines to supply the industry with plant material that’s free of disease.“The larger impact has been in Ontario but we’re starting to branch out and see that impact across Canada,” Inglis said.
Ottawa, Ont. – The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) has commenced a new project to enhance and update CAHRC’s agricultural supply/demand forecasting system. The new information will provide updated national, provincial and commodity-specific labour market information that will clarify the state of the Canadian agricultural labour market and ways to minimize labour shortages in the future.The two-year project will augment CAHRC’s previously released Labour Market Information (LMI) research that determined annual farm cash receipt losses to Canadian producers due to job vacancies at $1.5 B or three per cent of the industry’s total value in sales.Based on 2014 figures, the LMI research estimated the current gap between labour demand and the domestic workforce as 59,000 jobs. That means primary agriculture had the highest industry job vacancy rate of all sectors at seven per cent. Projections indicated that by 2025, the Canadian agri-workforce could be short workers for 114,000 jobs. The new research will update the forecast through to 2029.“Understanding the evolving needs of agricultural labour challenges across the country and across commodities will facilitate the development of informed and relevant initiatives by industry stakeholders to ensure the future viability and growth of Canadian farms,” explains Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, executive director of CAHRC.CAHRC’s research will examine the specific labour needs of all aspects of on-farm production including: apiculture; aquaculture; beef; dairy; field fruit and vegetables; greenhouse, nursery and floriculture; grains and oilseeds; poultry and eggs; sheep and goats; swine; and the tree fruit and vine industries.The new research will update the demand and supply model of the agricultural workforce with information about projected employment growth, seasonality of labour demand, and labour supply inflows and outflows including immigration, inter-sector mobility, and retirements, as well as temporary foreign workers. It will also conduct secondary investigations and analyses focused on the participation of women and indigenous people in the agricultural workforce.“The labour gap needs to be filled,” says Debra Hauer, manager of CAHRC’s AgriLMI Program. “To achieve this, we will examine groups that are currently under-represented in the agricultural workforce, particularly women and indigenous people, as well as continue to encourage new Canadians to make a career in agriculture. Removing barriers will improve access to job opportunities and help address labour shortages by increasing the agricultural labour pool.”The new research findings will be unveiled at a national AgriWorkforce Summit for employers, employment serving agencies, government, education, and industry associations. Additionally, a series of presentations will be delivered to industry associations detailing national, provincial or commodity-specific labour market information.Funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program, the Council is collaborating with federal and provincial government departments, leading agriculture organizations and agricultural colleges and training providers to ensure that the needs of this industry research are fully understood and addressed.
For the first time, scientists have improved how a crop uses water by 25 per cent without compromising yield by altering the expression of one gene that is found in all plants, as reported in Nature Communications.The international team increased the levels of a photosynthetic protein (PsbS) to conserve water by tricking plants into partially closing their stomata, the microscopic pores in the leaf that allow water to escape. Stomata are the gatekeepers to plants: When open, carbon dioxide enters the plant to fuel photosynthesis, but water is allowed to escape through the process of transpiration. | READ MORE
Ontario consumers are thirsty for more hard apple cider, and the province’s apple sector is poised to deliver. But first, researchers are profiling consumer preference to be sure the industry serves up cider that hits the spot.The project developed in response to research needs identified in the 2016 Cider Research and Innovation Strategy is a partnership with the Ontario Craft Cider Association and the Ontario Apple Growers. The strategy aims to see seven million litres of Ontario craft cider come to market by 2020.“Our work is about developing a better understanding of who the cider consumer is, and the sensory, flavour and taste profiles they’re looking for in a cider,” says Amy Bowen, research director, Consumer Insights at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland).Bowen used Vineland’s trained sensory panel to develop a lexicon of 22 sensory attributes to describe taste, aroma, flavour, mouthfeel and colour of hard apple ciders. The same panel then applied those attributes to 50 cider brands currently available to consumers through the LCBO and Ontario cideries.Next, 228 cider-drinking consumers rated their liking for a subset of those 50 ciders, and described each one using a provided list of terms. They also completed a questionnaire about consumption and purchase habits.“We identified two main segments of consumers, one that was driven by sweet, fruit-forward flavour profiles, and another panel that was driven by less sweet, balanced, and more complex flavours,” Bowen says.She notes there are significant differences in flavour and ingredients in domestic and imported ciders available to consumers through the LCBO.Craft ciders are made from 100 per cent Ontario apples, while others are made in Canada using apple concentrate, and some imported ciders contain little fruit juice at all (less than 20 per cent).Interestingly, two of three top-rated ciders tasted by study participants are not among the top five-selling cider brands at the LCBO.“We want to develop ciders using 100 per cent Ontario apples that meet a sensory profile that consumers respond to,” she says. “If someone is looking for an apple cider, and they want a dry one or a sweet one, understanding those profiles allows us to be flexible in using mixes of apples that are well adapted to our industry.”But if the industry is going to meet its growth targets, an additional 16,000 tonnes of apples – or 1.45 million trees – will be required. Work is underway to determine which apple varieties meet the climate, yield and taste profiles ideal to growing the cider industry.“We need to think strategically,” Bowen says. “It’s a big, long-term investment to put an apple orchard in the ground. There’s a huge opportunity to look at how the apple variety mix aligns and meets the needs of this growing industry, to keep it profitable and flavourful.”This project was funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.
March 5, 2018, Ithaca, NY – Stressed-out yeast is a big problem, at least for winemakers. The single-celled organism responsible for turning sugars into alcohol experiences stress, which changes its performance during fermentation. For vintners, stressed yeast introduces difficult production dilemmas that can change the efficiency and even flavour during winemaking. Patrick Gibney, assistant professor in the department of food science at Cornell University, is on a mission to help New York state wineries. Gibney is working out how metabolic pathways within a yeast cell determine those changes, with implications for how wine is produced. “Yeast has many significant, perhaps underappreciated, impacts on the public,” said Gibney. “It is critical for producing beer, wine and cider. Yeast is also a common food ingredient additive and is used to produce vaccines and other compounds in the biotech industry. This tiny organism has an enormous impact on human life.” Yeast has a long history as a model to understand the inner workings of eukaryote cell biology. Gibney, who has been researching yeast for the last 15 years, is interested in factors that affect whether cells become more resistant to stress. “In other industries, product uniformity is prized, but for winemakers, the year-to-year variations are often more valuable,” Gibney said. “There are dozens of fungi and bacteria that could all make the process go very wrong – or they might add combinations of flavors or odors that are really good. It’s very complex.” Gibney is collaborating with E&J Gallo Winery scientists and research teams as he applies his expertise in yeast biology to improve production across the wine industry. In the summer of 2017, the company invited Gibney to meet people involved with wine production from different perspectives: microbiology, quality control, systems biology, and chemistry. Those conversations are already reaping benefits, as Gibney has outlined several major projects for which he and Gallo scientists are crafting research plans. One project would tackle sluggish fermentations. “Sometimes you’re fermenting and it slows or stops completely. It’s often a microbiology problem,” Gibney said. He plans to gather samples from New York state wineries that have had this issue and inspect them at their most basic levels. For Gibney, the research is an opportunity to benefit the wine industry in New York and beyond. “It’s exciting to contribute to the scientific research already coming from CALS and help make advances that will help winemakers innovate with their products,” he said.
March 5, 2018, Adelaide, Australia – University of Adelaide researchers have discovered how grapes “breathe”, and that shortage of oxygen leads to cell death in the grape. The discovery raises many questions about the potentially significant impacts on grape and wine quality and flavour and vine management, and may lead to new ways of selecting varieties for warming climates. “In 2008 we discovered the phenomenon of cell death in grapes, which can be implicated where there are problems with ripening. We’ve since been trying to establish what causes cell death,” says Professor Steve Tyerman, chair of viticulture at the University of Adelaide’s Waite campus. “Although there were hints that oxygen was involved, until now we’ve not known of the role of oxygen and how it enters the berry.” Professor Tyerman and PhD student Zeyu Xiao from the university’s Australian Research Council (ARC) Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production have identified that during ripening, grapes suffer internal oxygen shortage. The research was in collaboration with Dr Victor Sadras, South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), and Dr Suzy Rogiers, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Wagga Wagga. Published in the Journal of Experimental Botany, the researchers describe how grape berries suffer internal oxygen shortage during ripening. With the use of a miniature oxygen measuring probe – the first time this has been done in grapes – they compared oxygen profiles across the flesh inside grapes of Chardonnay, Shiraz and Ruby Seedless table grape. They found that the level of oxygen shortage closely correlated with cell death within the grapes. Respiration measurements indicated that this would be made worse by high temperatures during ripening – expected to happen more frequently with global warming. "By manipulating oxygen supply we discovered that small pores on the surface of the berry stem were vital for oxygen supply, and if they were blocked this caused increased cell death within the berry of Chardonnay, essentially suffocating the berry. We also used micro X-ray computed tomography (CT) to show that air canals connect the inside of the berry with the small pores on the berry stem,” says Mr Xiao. "Shiraz has a much smaller area of these oxygen pores on the berry stem which probably accounts for its greater sensitivity to temperature and higher degree of cell death within the berry.”  Professor Vladimir Jiranek, director of the University of Adelaide’s ARC Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production, says: “This breakthrough on how grapes breathe will provide the basis for further research into berry quality and cultivar selection for adapting viticulture to a warming climate.” The study was supported by the Australian Industrial Transformation Research Program with support from Wine Australia and industry partners.
A bold orange border marked the roadside stand of Two EE’s Farm Market in the early days – the same bright identifier still seen on the building today. For many in the community of Surrey, B.C., Two EE’s, and the Schoen family that owns and operates the market, has remained a landmark, even as the community around it changed and underwent mass development.
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.
At the request of the Wild Blueberry Producers Association of Nova Scotia and Nova Scotia Beekeepers Association joint pollination committee, Perennia manages a Bee Line that is a volunteer listing of beekeepers and their available hives for pollination.The list will help connect blueberry growers who need bee hives to pollinate their blueberry fields, with beekeepers who have available hives to rent. This listing and service is offered at no charge.Leasers:Please call the hotline number at 1-866-606-4636 (toll-free) or email us with the following information: Contact Name, phone number and e-mail County Product details Please also give permission to post the above information on this site for renters to review.Renters:Please call the hotline number at 1-866-606-4636 (toll-free) or or email us with your needs. We will provide you with a list of any leasers in the counties you specify who can possibly meet your needs. We do not contact sellers on behalf of buyers.Hours of Operation:The hotline will be administered Monday to Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. After hours, please leave a message and any required follow up will be done the next business day. Or e-mail us with your information.Any changes in the listing will be posted on this website: http://www.perennia.ca/fieldservices/honey-bees-and-pollination/beeline/
The story of how Ontario’s first and only wild blueberry farm and winery came about perhaps started when a large parcel of land near Wawa was deforested some years ago. The 600 acres of ancient Lake Superior bottom – completely stone-free and extremely flat with a sand/silt soil type – quickly filled in with wild blueberries bushes.
Canadians clearly love having fresh local strawberries several times a year and Canada’s day-neutral strawberry industry is growing to meet the demand.
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.
Perennial fruit orchards are long-lived, long-term investments which require regular maintenance and upkeep to ensure that they retain their youthful health, vigour and productivity for an extended period.“Ensuring that crops survive the harsh prairie climate can be challenging, as the weather is hard on orchards,” says Robert Spencer, commercial horticulture specialist at the Alberta Ag-Info Centre. “If they are handled correctly, our orchard crops should handle most of what Mother Nature throws at them and the investment will be protected from loss.”A big part of managing an orchard in the off-season starts with lots of in-season and pre-off-season management, involving keeping plants healthy, active at the right time of year, and productive. Generally, over-wintering of all plants revolves around the same basic guidelines.Provided you have started with hardy plant material that is suited to your area and those plants enter winter healthy, they should be able to handle most of what is thrown at them. “However, the work doesn’t stop there,” explains Spencer. “The dormant season is a time to monitor and assess orchard health at a higher, general level, as opposed to specific, in-season production monitoring and management. It is a time to make adjustments based on the previous growing season and make any corrections.”Winter is also a time for pruning, with dead, diseased or damaged branches removed, as well as larger sized branches. “Thin and shape the canopy as required, ensuring that the plants have younger wood and aren’t too tall,” says Spencer. “Intensive rejuvenation pruning activities may also be undertaken in older orchards in the dormant season and can be done up until mid-March, as long as the plants are still dormant.”“Another aspect of off-season management is done largely in your mind and on paper,” adds Spencer. “Assess what worked and what isn’t working in your orchard. Evaluate the productivity and profitability of the orchard and make adjustments as required. Make plans for various situations, and assemble the necessary tools in advance, to make you more nimble in-season.”For more information about off-season orchard management, contact the Alberta Ag-Info Centre at 310-FARM (3276).
Almost everyone agrees: The Red Delicious is a crime against the apple. The fruit makes for a joyless snack, despite the false promise of its name, with a bitter skin that gives way to crumbling, mealy flesh. Maybe that’s why the New York Apple Association suggests people use their Red Delicious in holiday wreaths and centerpieces.Though it’s no longer the most popular apple in America—since its heyday in the 1980s, it’s been overtaken by newer, tastier varieties—the Delicious remains the most heavily produced apple in the United States. Which means that, even though we’ve long since caught on, you can still find the red scourge everywhere.This raises some important questions. Why do we keep growing 2.7 billion pounds of Red Delicious apples every year? And are growers still excited by the Delicious or are they stuck between a declining market and an orchard they can’t afford to tear up? For the full story, CLICK HERE.
Fredericton, N.B. - Dr. Claudia Goyer, a molecular bacteriologist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Fredericton Research and Development Centre in New Brunswick, says she is seeing promising results that may help potato growers get more of their products into the global marketplace.Common scab is a potato disease caused by bacteria in the soil and while it is not a health issue for humans, common scab’s crusty lesions on potato skin can make potatoes unmarketable. The allowable limit for the appearance of potato scab on a potato is five per cent.Building on research done in Australia, Dr. Goyer has been working with Canadian tissue culture expert Dr. Vicki Gustafson to develop natural variations of Shepody and Red Pontiac varieties with greater scab resistance.In the lab, the researchers bathed potato tissue samples in a plant toxin secreted by the microorganism that causes common scab. As expected, the toxin killed many of the tissue samples.Among the survivors, they looked for samples that evolved with a resistance to the toxin, and hopefully to the microorganism that produces it.“We’re tapping into a plant’s natural ability to spontaneously change or mutate in response to stress,” says Dr. Goyer.From the surviving tissue samples, 50 were selected for field testing and ten of those have shown improved resistance.The Red Pontiac offshoots have been particularly promising, with 50 per cent less incidence of common scab than in current Red Pontiac variety. Researchers have been seeing up to 30 per cent less common scab in the Shepody offshoots.Dr. Goyer is encouraged by the results, but says the evaluations will need to continue for another two to three years before the new, more resistant offshoots of the Shepody and Red Pontiac can be brought to the market.
A University of Maryland researcher has traced the origin of pest populations of the Colorado potato beetle back to the Plains states, dispelling theories that the beetle came from Mexican or other divergent populations. Little was previously known about the beetle's origin as a pest, particularly how it developed the ability to consume potatoes and decimate entire fields so quickly. With its unique ability to adapt to pesticides almost faster than the industry can keep up, this beetle is consistently an issue for potato farmers. Using investigative evolutionary biology to determine the origins of this beetle and understand the pest's genetic makeup better, industry can better target pest management strategies to combat pesticide resistance and ultimately improve the potato industry.The United States is the fourth largest producer of potatoes worldwide, producing over 20 million tons of potatoes each year. By comparing the genetics of pre-agriculture potato beetles, before the pest began to consume potatoes, to post-agriculture potato beetles, Dr. David Hawthorne of the Entomology Department and his team hope to understand why and how the beetle is developing resistance so quickly, and what can be done to slow resistance. "The Colorado potato beetle is almost always one of the first insects to develop resistance to any pesticide. In fact, many contribute the entire pesticide arms race and development of pesticides to this particular beetle, which can destroy entire fields very easily," says Hawthorne."With this study," explains Hawthorne, "we were trying to gain insight into two major questions: Where did the potato beetle come from? And why do they evolve resistance so quickly? This would have major implications in controlling the pest, since the more growers have to spray, the greater their costs and risk to the surrounding environment. We need a strategy to weigh our options and determine the best way to control these pests without overspraying or even torching entire fields overrun with beetles, which has happened in the past when there has been no effective pesticide options."Hawthorne and his team found that populations of beetles eating potatoes are most closely related to nightshade eaters in the Plains states. Beetles from Mexico, a possible source of the pest populations, were far too distantly related to have been the source of this beetles. "Before they became pests, the plains beetles first evolved a taste for potatoes," says Hawthorne. "Some non-pest populations still don't eat them and will prefer the weeds surrounding the potatoes, but not the potatoes themselves. This is just one way that populations may differ." By understanding the distinctions between these populations and which beetles are the source of current pest populations, more targeted pest management strategies can be developed based on the specific genetic makeup of the beetles, leading to more effective and less spraying.Hawthorne describes this work as almost forensic biology, tracking the evolution and movement of this beetle across time and geography. "I like that this work is very interdisciplinary," says Dr. Hawthorne. "It is about taking all the puzzle pieces and trying to put the whole story together to have the biggest impact on the field. Ultimately, this work is a major step towards understanding one of the most harmful pests, and has significant implications in controlling the population, keeping the potato industry stable, and fighting pesticide resistance and overspraying."Dr. Hawthorne's study was published in The Journal of Economic Entomology.
February 27, 2018, Charlottetown, PEI – The 2018 edition of the International Potato Technology Expo welcomed professionals from across North America back to the Eastlink Centre. The top industry event took Charlottetown by storm with an impressive display of equipment and products, alongside a sold-out educational conference. More than 3,300 attendees walked the show floor to check out diverse exhibits from local, regional, national, and international companies. Potato growers, together with the leading manufacturers of equipment and product solutions from across the Maritimes and beyond were in attendance. Dozens of exhibitors at the show debuted cutting-edge and innovative products including new potato varieties, the latest models of equipment, innovative growing technology, and more. “The crowd was very steady and exhibitors were happy with the turnout,” said Mark Cusack, show manager. “We saw professionals of all backgrounds come out to the event – from lifelong growers to children and families of the industry. Comments on the conference were very positive as well. Everything came together at the right time.” The full educational conference program saw huge success on both days of the show. During some sessions, listeners lined the room with seats completely filled to hear experts speak on informative, relevant topics. Sponsors of the event included Prince Edward Island Agriculture and Fisheries, Sygenta, and Farm Credit Canada. The International Potato Technology Expo takes place biennially in Charlottetown. The next edition will occur in 2020.
February 26, 2018, Charlottetown, PEI – Since the International Potato Technology Expo launched in 2000, Glen MacLean, a 700-acre seed potato farmer in O’Leary, hasn’t missed a show. Mark Cusack, the event’s national show manager, said the expo is held every two years in Charlottetown. He estimates the event will have about 5,000 visitors and 130 exhibitors over the two days. READ MORE
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

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