Production

The butter tart has risen to celebrity status in the last few years. There are butter tart tours, butter tart trails, but if truth be told, I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. I would take a piece of pie over a butter tart any day of the week.
Alberta farms are seeing more opportunities to sell their products directly to consumers, as more people want to know where their food comes from and how it is produced.Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF) has been tracking local food demand trends in various direct to consumer market channels, including on-farm retail, farmers’ markets, and community supported agriculture (CSA) since 2004.“Local food sales through direct to consumer market channels have more than doubled since 2008,” says Christine Anderson, local foods specialist with AF. “We are expecting sales from this past year to reach $1.2 billion.”The Study of Local Food Demand in Alberta 2016 found that food spending at farmers’ markets, farm retail, and restaurants serving local food in Alberta exceeded $1.5 billion in that year.The 2016 Census of Agriculture included a question about farms selling food directly to consumers. It found that about five per cent, or 2,062 farms in Alberta, sold food directly to consumers, below the national average of 12.6 per cent.“That breaks down to one Alberta farm selling directly to consumers for every 1,972 Albertans,” says Anderson. “When compared to the national average of one direct to consumer farm for every 1,434 people, there is a clear opportunity for new farms to enter the direct sales market in Alberta.”Of those 2,062 Alberta farms selling directly to consumers, 35 per cent were new entrants to direct to consumer market channels. Beef cattle farms represented the highest proportion of new entrants at 21 per cent, followed by apiculture at 12 per cent, and animal combination farming at 11 per cent.More than two-thirds of the new entrants were small farms with annual sales less than $50,000, 18 per cent were medium-sized, and 10 per cent were large with sales in excess of $250,000.Most farms, or 85 per cent, sold food and products directly to consumers either at a farm gate, stand, kiosk, or U-pick operation. About 20 per cent sold their product at farmers’ markets, and six per cent through CSA.“Census data indicates that direct marketing farms yielded higher than average profitability compared to farms that did not sell directly to consumers,” explains Anderson. “The profitability ratios of some direct marketing farms were further improved if they sold value-added products through farmers’ markets or CSAs.”Farms marketing directly to consumers also showed a higher average of gross farm receipts to farm area at $442 per acre, compared to farms that did not sell directly to consumers with $349 per acre.“Direct marketing farms also revealed a higher percentage of female operators, at 38 per cent, than other types of farms, at 31 per cent,” notes Anderson. “Interestingly, Alberta has more female direct marketing farm operators than the national average, which is 36 per cent.”The data also showed that young operators who were under the age of 35 were more involved in farm direct marketing in Alberta: Nine per cent compared to eight per cent province-wide in all agriculture operations.For a more information on opportunities in direct to consumer marketing, visit Explore Local or contact Christine Anderson local foods specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.
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.
A group of fungi might fight a disease that’s dangerous to tomatoes and specialty crops. University of Florida scientists hope to develop this biological strategy as they add to growers’ tools to help control Fusarium wilt.Using a $770,000, three-year grant from the USDA, Gary Vallad, associate professor of plant pathology, hopes to harness the advantages of fungi known as trichoderma to fight Fusarium wilt.Vallad will work on the project with Seogchan Kang, Beth Gugino and Terrence Bell from the department of plant pathology and environmental microbiology at Pennsylvania State University and Priscila Chaverri from the department of plant science and landscape architecture at the University of Maryland.Scientists hope to use trichoderma to supplement various pest-management methods to help control Fusarium wilt, Vallad said.Trichoderma are ubiquitous fungi in soil and on plants, and they have been used in agriculture as biological control agents, he said.UF/IFAS researchers have used trichoderma to try to control pathogens, but with little to no success. With this new round of research, they hope to understand what factors limit the fungus’ benefits as a biological control agent, Vallad said. That way, they hope to develop ways to increase its ability to control Fusarium wilt.Growers began using other fumigants as methyl bromide was gradually phased out from 2005 until it was completely phased out of use in 2012, Vallad said. As growers tried various ways to control diseases, including alternative fumigants, they saw a re-emergence in soil-borne pathogens and pests on many specialty crops, including tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, watermelon, cantaloupes and strawberries, Vallad said.When the project starts July 1, UF/IFAS researchers will do most of their experiments on trichoderma at the GCREC, but they’ll also use crops from commercial farmers during the project.Vallad emphasizes that their research goes beyond Florida’s borders. Studies in Pennsylvania and Maryland will likely focus on small to medium-sized farm operations.“We are focusing on tomato production Florida, Maryland and Pennsylvania,” he said. “We hope that our findings will help improve management of Fusarium wilt with trichoderma-based biological control agents.”
It would be nice to be able to stand up and look out over your whole field at once, with a “bird’s eye view, to see how it is progressing. A camera mounted on an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle [UAV or drone] can do that for you.
Second Harvest is working with Value Chain Management International (VCMI) on a ground-breaking food loss and waste (FLW) project, funded by the generous support of The Walmart Foundation. A world first, the project is researching FLW from a whole of Canadian chain perspective – from primary production to consumer.The project encompasses Canada’s food and beverage industry (including fruit, vegetables, dairy, meat, grains and oilseeds, sugars and syrups, beverages and seafood). The purpose of the study is to establish a framework and metrics that businesses operating in the farming, processing, retail and foodservice sectors can use to 1) understand where losses are likely to occur and 2) identify ways to improve their performance and profitability by reducing losses and waste. The team will achieve this by collecting data that will allow an accurate estimate of FLW occurring at discrete points along the value chain and evaluating the comparative impact of root causes. The project will also estimate losses that occur during the redistribution of rescued and donated food, for example in foodbanks.Key outcomes of the project: It will calculate the total amount of food available for human consumption in Canada. Through conducting pioneering primary research, it will identify where, how and why waste occurs along the chain. It will identify potential root-cause solutions to reduce the percentage of Canadian food sent to landfill – by proposing improved redistribution, reuse and recycling practices. It will identify greater opportunities for food to be recovered and distributed to people who are food insecure. It will culminate in the production and dissemination of a manual of scalable and sustainable solutions for addressing and preventing food waste. 800 to 1,000 survey respondents to be targeted across the entire value chain – Canada wide.Second Harvest and VCMI are targeting 800 to 1,000 respondents from across the entire value chain to gain insights from farmers, food and beverage processors, retailers, foodservice operators, institutions and food redistributors across Canada (regardless of their size). If you fall in this category of participants, and would like to take part in the short, completely confidential survey, please access the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2018FLWSurveyThe project will be completed by the end of 2018.“We are thrilled to be working with Second Harvest on this revolutionary food loss and waste project,” said Martin Gooch, CEO of VCMI. “Prior studies relied on existing data, largely not gathered for calculating food loss and waste; we are collecting and analyzing data that will achieve this. The project outcomes will have important implications for businesses, industry, researchers and government.”
Potato is the third most important crop in human nutrition, after wheat and rice. Knowing and improving its agronomic, nutritional and industrial aspects is essential and in this task a group of researchers specialized in biotechnology of the INTA Balcarce is focused.Recently, with a trajectory more than 7 years in gene editing technologies, they were able to confirm that the DNA sequence had been modified, while they hope to corroborate the shutdown of the gene that causes enzymatic browning in potatoes ( Solanum tuberosum L. ).When applying this technique, the team led by Feingold focused on a polyphenol oxidase gene, whose enzyme causes browning in tubers when they are cut and exposed to air. | For the full story, CLICK HERE.
Protecting fruit crops from birds and other predators has never been easy. Scarecrows, reflective tape, netting, shotguns, propane-powered bangers and other audible bird scare devices, as well as traps and falcons, number among the most popular tools at growers’ disposal.
When humans get bacterial infections, we reach for antibiotics to make us feel better faster. It’s the same with many economically important crops. For decades, farmers have been spraying streptomycin on apple and pear trees to kill the bacteria that cause fire blight, a serious disease that costs over $100 million annually in the United States alone.But just like in human medicine, the bacteria that cause fire blight are becoming increasingly resistant to streptomycin. Farmers are turning to new antibiotics, but it’s widely acknowledged that it’s only a matter of time before bacteria become resistant to any new chemical. That’s why a group of scientists from the University of Illinois and Nanjing Agricultural University in China are studying two new antibiotics—kasugamycin and blasticidin S—while there’s still time.“Kasugamycin has been proven effective against this bacterium on apples and pears, but we didn’t know what the mechanism was. We wanted to see exactly how it’s killing the bacteria. If bacteria develop resistance later on, we will know more about how to attack the problem,” says Youfu Zhao, associate professor of plant pathology in the Department of Crop Sciences at U of I, and co-author on a new study published in Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions.The bacterium that causes fire blight, Erwinia amylovora, is a relative of E. coli, a frequently tested model system for antibiotic sensitivity and resistance. Studies in E. coli have shown that kasugamycin and blasticidin S both enter bacterial cells through two transporters spanning the cell membrane. These ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters are known as oligopeptide permease and dipeptide permease, or Opp and Dpp for short.The transporters normally ferry small proteins from one side of the membrane to the other, but the antibiotics can hijack Opp and Dpp to get inside. Once inside the cell, the antibiotics attack a critical gene, ksgA, which leads to the bacterium’s death.Zhao and his team wanted to know if the same process was occurring in Erwinia amylovora. They created mutant strains of the bacterium with dysfunctional Opp and Dpp transporters, and exposed them to kasugamycin and blasticidin S. The researchers found that the mutant strains were resistant to the antibiotics, suggesting that Opp and Dpp were the gatekeepers in Erwinia amylovora, too.Zhao and his team also found a gene, RcsB, that regulates Opp and Dpp expression. “If there is higher expression under nutrient limited conditions, that means antibiotics can be transported really fast and kill the bacteria very efficiently,” he says.The researchers have more work ahead of them to determine how Opp/Dpp and RcsB could be manipulated in Erwinia amylovora to make it even more sensitive to the new antibiotics, but Zhao is optimistic.“By gaining a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms of resistance, we can develop methods to prevent it. In the future, we could possibly change the formula of kasugamycin so that it can transport efficiently into bacteria and kill it even at low concentrations,” he says. “We need to understand it before it happens.”The article, “Loss-of-function mutations in the Dpp and Opp permeases render Erwinia amylovora resistant to kasugamycin and blasticidin S,” is published in Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions [DOI: 10.1094/MPMI-01-18-0007-R]. Additional authors include Yixin Ge, Jae Hoon Lee, and Baishi Hu. The work was supported by a grant from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Less than five per cent of family businesses make it to the fourth generation but the Davison family did just that.Davison Orchards has been growing apples since 1933. This year they celebrate 85 years and four generations of family farming in Vernon, B.C.Bob Davison is the eldest of the three generations currently working on the farm. His uncle Tom began the business after emigrating from England after the First World War in the hopes of a more prosperous future. The family realized their dream of owning their own orchard in the Okanagan in 1933. Bob began working in the orchard with his uncle in 1948. He was 17 at the time and still works at the family orchard today. | READ MORE
The Okanagan's Burrowing Owl Estate Winery is celebrating its commitment to renewable energy by declaring Tuesday, May 15, 2018 "Solar Day" at the winery.The winery will be hosting local media and guests, with a glass of Burrowing Owl's first wine release of 2018, the 2017 Pinot Gris. Follow the story at #SolarDay.Burrowing Owl has long been dedicated to sustainable winemaking, and it's leading the way once again with the installation of five large solar systems on its estate properties. The winery's investments into alternative energy over the past dozen years include the following: In 2006, the winery installed its first solar panels, producing the equivalent of 53,000 kWh annually in the form of hot water In 2016, the winery's staff house in Osoyoos became a "NET ZERO" building with addition of 116 solar panels A cellar expansion completed in 2017 with a roof blanketed by 70 solar panels. The electricity provided by the panels will offset approximately 12.9 tons of CO2 emissions per year A 2017 visitor parking structure designed to provide shade and rain protection, topped by 106 solar panels that will offset 27 tons of CO2 every year. 2017 - Our 45,000 sq. ft Oliver warehouse with a south-facing roof covered by 160 panels to capture solar energy, offsetting 30 tons of carbon annually and producing 60,000 kWh annually. That's enough energy to provide heat and air conditioning for this large building, giving it a carbon footprint of "NET ZERO".In addition, the winery has also installed eight new electric vehicle charging stations, which visitors and staff may use at no cost. For more information, visit: https://www.burrowingowlwine.ca/
Farmers across Ontario are welcoming the return of thousands of seasonal labourers who help the province’s fruit and vegetable industry thrive.Approximately 18,000 workers from Mexico and the Caribbean are expected to be placed at Ontario farms this growing season as a supplement to local labour under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP). Approximately 1,450 farms will benefit from the program this year.The program was established in 1966 to respond to a severe shortage of domestic agricultural workers. It continues to serve the same role 52 years later, enabling Ontario farmers to stay in business.“Men and women from overseas have been helping Ontario farmers solve a critical shortage of agricultural workers for more than half a century,” says Ken Forth, president of Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (F.A.R.M.S.), which administers the program. “At the same time, they’ve helped lift themselves and their families out of a punishing cycle of poverty in their home countries.”SAWP is a “Canadians first” program, which means supplementary seasonal farm labour is hired from partner countries only if farmers cannot find domestic workers willing to take the same jobs.Farmers who rely on the program to meet their labour needs do hire Canadians. The challenge is that not enough domestic workers — Canadians who may live in the rural areas where these farms are located — are interested in taking these positions, often because they are seasonal in nature.Recent labour market research by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council cited SAWP as a key reason our horticultural industry is thriving.In Ontario, the program plays a crucial role in helping the industry generate $5.4 billion in economic activity and approximately 34,280 jobs.“If we want to continue having access to high-quality, fresh, local produce in Ontario, we need the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program to continue connecting farmers with the workers they need,” Forth says.The vast majority of men and women who come to Ontario through SAWP believe the benefits of the program far outweigh any challenges or drawbacks, such as being away from their families for part of the year on a temporary basis.Proof of this can be seen in the large number of workers who speak positively about the program and voluntarily return year after year — some of them to the same employers for decades. Approximately 85 per cent of the workers opt to return on repeat contracts in an average year.Seasonal workers can earn as much as 10 times or more working here than they could in their own countries, if they fortunate enough to find employment. This income allows the workers to improve the standard of living of their families, educate their children and buy and operate businesses and farms at home.Of the many different temporary worker programs in Canada, SAWP is the only one that offers 24-hour a day assistance to workers directly with people from their home countries. Each country participating in the program maintains a liaison service or consular office in Ontario to help look after the general welfare of agricultural workers and help them navigate any issues or complications they may face while working here.For more information about Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program, visit: www.farmsontario.ca.
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.
A combination of ideal weather conditions through bloom and the post-bloom periods, as well as new production coming on, has resulted in an estimated 12 million pound BC Tree Fruits cherry crop this season.Consumers will start seeing Okanagan cherries from the orchards of BC Tree Fruits in stores starting the end of June and with the anticipated record crop, there will be plenty of juicy and sweet cherries for all to enjoy over the warm summer months. | READ MORE
Nova Scotia's blueberry producers are bracing for a difficult year ahead after two hard frosts decimated much of the province's crop.Peter Rideout, executive director of the Wild Blueberry Producers Association of Nova Scotia, said this week's sub-zero temperatures, coming on the heels of warm days that encouraged blueberry blossoms to open up, have caused widespread damage. | READ MORE
An invasive pest that was initially contained within Pennsylvania has spread to Delaware and Virginia, and insect experts worry the next stop will be Ohio.Spotted lanternflies suck sap from fruit crops and trees, which can weaken them and contribute to their death. Native to China, the insect was first found in the United States in 2014 in Pennsylvania.At this time, spotted lanternflies are still relatively far from the Ohio border. They have been found in the southeastern part of Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia. However, they can be spread long distances by people who move infested material or items containing egg masses.“The natural spread would take a long time, but it would be very easy to be moved through firewood or trees that are being relocated,” said Amy Stone, an educator with Ohio State University Extension. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University.If it arrives in Ohio, the spotted lanternfly has the potential to do serious damage to the grape, apple, hops and logging industries, Stone said.The lanternfly’s preferred meal is from the bark of Ailanthus or tree of heaven, which is typically not intentionally planted but instead grows on abandoned property and along rivers and highways.Compared to the spotted wing drosophila or the brown marmorated stink bug, which seize on fruit and vegetable crops, the spotted lanternfly has a more limited palate so it likely would not do as much damage, said Celeste Welty an OSU Extension entomologist.“Everybody’s fear is any new invasive pest will be like those two. But it seems to me, it’s not as much of a threat,” Welty said.And unlike the spotted wing drosophila and the brown marmorated stink bug, the lanternfly is easy to spot because the adult bug is about 1 inch long and, with its wings extended, about 2 inches wide, Welty said.For now, all that can be done to stem the spread of lanterflies is to stay watchful for their presence and any damage they may inflict. On trees, they zero in on the bark, particularly at the base of the tree. Lanternflies can cause a plant to ooze or weep and have a fermented odor. They can also cause sooty mold or a buildup of sticky fluid on plants as well as on the ground beneath infested plants.An app developed by the CFAES School of Environment and Natural Resources allows users to report invasive species if they suspect that they have come across them. The app, which is called the Great Lakes Early Detection Network, features details about invasive species that people should be on the lookout for.If someone sees a lanternfly, he or she should contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture at 614-728-6201.
The Grape Growers of Ontario’s board of directors is suggesting a change in district boundaries and board representation, which would come into effect in 2019.Under the two-part proposal, the association would combine Districts 2, 3 and 4 into one district and use a weighting of 50 per cent grower numbers and 50 per cent tonnage to determine the growers’ committee and board of directors representation. Thus, the new district would have eight members on the Growers’ Committee and three members on the Board of Directors.The board is also suggesting shifting Bruce, Grey, Huron, Perth and Waterloo counties into District 6 [from District 5] and moving Dufferin, Peel and Halton counties into the new combined district. The geographical changes would have no impact on the formula for district representation.Meetings have been scheduled to discuss the proposal.Niagara: June 6, 2018, 7 p.m.Lincoln Community Centre4361 Central Ave., Beamsville, Ont.Niagara: June 13, 2018, 7 p.m.NOTL Community Centre, Simpson Room14 Anderson Lane, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.Eastern and Northern Ontario: June 12, 2018, 7 p.m.Bloomfield Town Hall289 Main Street, Bloomfield, Ont.Southwestern Ontario: June 18, 2018, 7 p.m.Pelee Island Winery455 Seacliff Drive, Kingsville, Ont.
Using tunnels to provide a more consistent environment for raspberries and strawberries has been employed around the world, but less so in North America. Kathy Demchak from the Department of Plant Science at Penn State University has surveyed growers and conducted research on the use of tunnels in growing fresh-market strawberries and raspberries to help growers determine if the option is viable in their own field.
Developed by Biobest, Flying Doctors - bumblebees that pollinate flowers while at the same time delivering a ‘medicine’ to the plant - have been available since 2013. Highly innovative and efficient, these bumblebees kill two birds with one stone.Fruit grower Bart Van Parijs, from Oeselgem, Belgium, has conducted a trial in open field-grown raspberries using the biofungicide Prestop 4B as the ‘medicine’ against Botrytis.Bart first heard about this technique at a seminar a few years ago. “With most of the results relating to protected crops I was curious to know what the effects would be in open field raspberry crops”, explains Bart Van Parijs, who owns the 12-hectare biological fruit company, Purfruit in Oeselgem. This enterprising operation grows up to 15 species of fruit, has a pick your own fruit farm, a terrace and a shop. It also regularly welcomes groups and classes.Protection against BotrytisA biological grower as Bart Van Parijs cannot use any chemical products to protect their crops against Botrytis − which causes fruit to rot. As the fungus remains latent during flowering, the damage only becomes visible during harvest or storage.The biofungicide Prestop 4B contains the beneficial fungus Gliocladium catenulatum J1446. Using Flying Doctors, the bumblebees continuously carry the biofungicide to the flowers during pollination, affording protection against Botrytis and preventing the fruit from being harmed.Beneficial fungus presentBiobest deployed the Flying Doctors with Prestop 4B in the raspberry crops in spring. At the end of May, flowers were collected from plots that were, and others that were not, pollinated by Flying Doctors.The flowers were examined for the presence of Gliocladium. The beneficial fungus was found in both plots. The fact that a certain percentage of Gliocladium was also found on the untreated crop is due to the distance between the plots. Since they were not far apart, some bumblebees also pollinated the plot that did not receive any treatment. Still, the plot treated by Flying Doctors showed a much higher presence of Gliocladium – namely 80 per cent.No fruit rot after storageDuring harvest in early July, Biobest performed a new trial: raspberries from plots that were and others that were not pollinated were harvested and stored at a temperature of 10°C.Biobest researcher Soraya França explained, “After two weeks there was no sign of fruit rot in the raspberries treated by Flying Doctors. On the other hand, 30 per cent of the raspberries from the untreated area were affected.Extended shelf life is positiveCommenting on the results, Bart Van Parijs said, “the shelf life of raspberries is limited, especially in humid periods. Thanks to Flying Doctors with Prestop 4B, raspberries can be kept longer in the fridge, which is reassuring. During humid periods, I normally advise my fruit garden customers to consume the fruit they have picked the next day at the latest. This year I could confidently say that the berries could be kept a few days before being eaten. I will be using Flying Doctors again this year.”
E.W. Gaze Seeds Co. and Phytocultures Ltd. are working together to bring new types of potatoes to Newfoundland and Labrador from South America.E.W. Gaze Seeds Co. was founded in Newfoundland in 1925. It specializes in selling “high-quality vegetable and flower seeds,” according to the company’s website.“It was actually (Phytocultures) that reached out to us originally to try out the new potato seeds they have been working on for a few years,” said Jackson McLean, assistant manager of E.W. Gaze Seeds Co. “We got them to send us in a bunch of samples that we could give out to our customers, which I thought was a great idea ... to test them out because they have never been grown here before.” | READ MORE
An unusual “killer” frost has caused widespread damage to crops in the Maritimes, with everything from Nova Scotian wine grapes to Island asparagus harmed by a sharp plunge in spring temperatures.Farmers were beginning to assess the toll from the June cold front that hit Monday, as word came from Environment Canada of yet another frost advisory for early Thursday in all of Atlantic Canada. | READ MORE
Tide Head, N.B. – The worst flooding to hit New Brunswick in nearly a century has unexpectedly spread ruin and misfortune to parts of the province hundreds of kilometres away from the high-water mark.May’s historic flooding swamped southern parts of the province. But none of that occurred in Tide Head, a tiny village more than 300 kilometres north of Moncton that is known as “The Fiddlehead Capital of the World.” Yet, their entire crop of wild fiddleheads has been tarnished.That is because of a widespread belief among consumers that the flood rendered all of New Brunswick’s fiddleheads poisonous. Driven by statements from provincial emergency officials, the fiddlehead scare has had a negative impact on growers, pickers and distributors in a region already hit by hard economic times. | READ MORE
Some people regard frozen vegetables as a disappointing alternative when fresh veggies are not available. But that is likely to change with new methods of preparing food for cold storage.Dr. Tony Savard and his team from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s St-Hyacinthe Research Development Centre re-examined the usual way of treating vegetables -blanching - which refers to briefly heat-treating the vegetables before freezing. While this method is helpful for ensuring food safety and preventing freezer burn, it also affects the taste and texture which some people don’t like even when nutritional value is retained.The team worked with Bonduelle Amérique as part of the Canadian Food Innovator research cluster, to come up with a fresh alternative for processing vegetables for freezing: partially drying them using low doses of microwaves combined with a vacuum process. Doing so avoided the breakdown of vegetable tissue that happens with freezing and thawing. This innovative method preserves the natural flavour and even improves it in certain cases, while still ensuring food safety. Furthermore, the texture of the vegetables is maintained."New markets are possible if we can improve the taste of frozen vegetables and maintain high standards of food safety," says Savard.Whether or not a consumer picks a frozen option likely depends on their previous experience with frozen foods. And with healthy choices being so popular among Canadians, creating frozen foods that are both healthy and tasty is important. As such, Savard and his team will continue exploring new options for preserving the veggies that we love to eat.Ultimately, if new methods of food preservation can be developed then new markets will also be opened. The domestic market for preserved fruits and vegetables is valued at $7.5 billion. The export market is also strong, worth over $3 billion in 2015, according to Statistics Canada. That same year saw almost $6.5 billion in total revenue. There are more than 17,000 Canadians employed in the sector, contributing in different ways to produce great food options. With so much economic activity generated it is important to identify what food areas can be improved upon.The findings emerged from a "research cluster" organized between government and industry. Bringing together expertise from the public and private sectors has generated positive results like this new preservation method. Best of all, it’s helping Canadians find something both healthy and delicious to eat.Key discoveries: Soggy onions and peppers no more! New preservation method improves natural flavour and maintains texture during freezing and thawing. Food processing industry will have new tools to preserve vegetables, which may open new markets.
With an increase in precision agriculture and more closely monitored in-season crop fertilizer applications, we’ve also seen an increased interest in plant tissue testing. But, before you begin sampling in the field this season, do what you can to ensure you’re getting the best sample and making the most from your time spent.“It’s very important to take a plant tissue sample from the correct plant part,” says Dr. Jim Friedericks, outreach and education advisor for AgSource Laboratories. “For example, to have the earliest effect on this growing season, corn plants should be in the 8-leaf to 12-leaf stage, soybean plants can be submitted from 4-inches to 8-inches tall and alfalfa from 6-inches to first flowering.” These results can then be used to fine-tune an expected side-dress application or for a “rescue” nutrient application for the current crop.The results from plant tissue samples are typically reported in comparison to the range of nutrient concentrations sufficient for that plant at that growth stage. Because these ranges shift with the growth of the plant it is important to identify the growth stage when submitting a plant sample to the laboratory. It’s normal for crop nutrient levels to vary throughout the season, therefore it’s important for these nutrients to be available when the crop needs them.Alternatively, taking plant tissue samples multiple times throughout the growth cycle reveals the seasonal trends of your crop, and differences in your individual fields. Reports from these frequent plant tissue samples can be used to make corrections or additional nutrient applications as long as your field equipment makes it feasible to spray the canopy or dribble nutrients onto the soil surface.Plant tissue sampling provides a picture of the nutritional status of your crops. Combined with a soil testing program, you can build a 360° view of your fields and crops to make better management decisions that could drive higher yields and reduce input costs throughout the growing season.Plant tissue testing is also helpful when checking for suspected nutrient deficiencies. Often, a common visual sign of a macronutrient deficiency can be mistaken for what is actually micronutrient deficiency. One example is molybdenum (Mo), which is required for nodule formation in nitrogen fixing crops. What visually appears as nitrogen deficiency in alfalfa may in fact be inadequate supply of molybdenum.While creating your plant tissue sampling plan, keep these points in mind: Sample your fields using appropriate zones. Pull plant/leaf samples from the same variety or hybrid. One sample = one variety or hybrid = one zone Combine with a soil sample. Consider a routine soil sample that includes nitrate in the analysis. Pull this sample in the same location as your plant tissue sample. This approach can determine the soil’s ability to supply nutrients in the growing season and identify confounding problems such as low soil pH. Avoid trouble spots. Stay away from sampling close to field boundaries or gravel roads, or visually damaged field zones. Trouble spots should be a separate sample. Collect the proper plant part and amounts. Collect 15 to 20 leaves, or at least half a paper lunch bag full, and choose mature leaves from the middle or upper part of the plant. Never send bottom leaves or immature leaves. Consult a sampling guide for more specific instructions. If the leaves are contaminated with soil rinse them briefly under a stream of distilled water and allow to air dry. Consistency is key in plant tissue sampling. Pull samples at the same time of day throughout the season. Handle the samples properly. Label your sample bags, make sure the labels match your submittal forms and send them promptly. Pack the shipping box loosely to include some air space. If possible, collect and ship the samples the same day. If not, store samples in a refrigerator. “Shipping and handling is critical. When samples are shipped wet and in plastic bags, we end up with moldy tissue. We can’t test moldy samples and growers end up having to go back out to the fields and resample,” notes Friedericks. “For best results, use a paper bag and ship dry samples. We hate having to call clients to tell them their samples have to be tossed.”
Heads up veggie growers: New pest threats!We have a couple of new pests threatening to descend on Nova Scotian vegetable fields. Perennia, in conjunction with AAFC and the NSDA is setting out some pheromone traps for Leek Moth and Swede Midge. Check out our YouTube videos on how to set out a pheromone trap.

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