Production

After a short 5 years in business, the Cloverbelt Food Co-op has changed the face of local food distribution in the Northern region of Ontario.Much of the rural communities in the North are geographically vast, preventing its residents from having access to healthy, fresh and locally-produced products. Cloverbelt, a small co-operative located in Dryden Ont., whose mission is to strengthen food security and foster a thriving local food community, has solutions to combat this problem.“The objective of the food co-op was to make local food more visible and accessible by offering products sourced entirely from this region,” notes Jennifer Springett, Cloverbelt’s president. But it’s much easier said than done. Adds Springett, “We’ve had to become innovative to find ways for food to reach many parts of the region.”One such innovation is the development of their online farmer’s market and distribution service. The initiative was developed out of a need to provide access to more fresh foods produced by local farmers, and to find a more sustainable way to operate the local food box program in Dryden. By allowing consumers to select what local products they want to buy rather than getting a box of goods with items they may not use, it enables farmers to match their supply with demand.The program was so well received in Dryden, that residents from other small communities – many of which don’t have access to a full grocery store – requested a similar program in their region. The online market recently expanded their transportation and distribution network to the Fort Francis, Atikokan and Red Lake areas, thanks to a partnership with Louden Brother Wholesale.“Rather than reinventing the wheel and replicating what we’re already doing, we found ways to expand and distribute food between communities. This gives consumers access to a greater variety of foods, while serving more communities,” says Springett.In order to continue innovating, Cloverbelt is developing a Food Charter for the Kenora and Rainy River Districts, with the objective of encouraging community policy and commitment to support local food.“Such a policy is necessary to align municipal level commitment with provincial objectives for increased Ontario food sales. It is also critical to ensuing continued support for local food in the North, and to overcome key barriers to growth in the agricultural sector,” says Springett.Using a collaborative approach, consultations were held with the different municipalities in small, rural communities. The draft Charter, completed in March 2018, sets out a vision for local food supply in Northern Ontario, and is currently being circulated for final input.“Cloverbelt is a prime example of how co-operative businesses address both social and economic challenges within the province, by finding innovative ways to collaboratively solve a need within a community or region,” says Erin Morgan, executive director of the Ontario Co-operative Association.Learn more about the Cloverbelt Food Co-op online at https://www.cloverbeltlocalfoodcoop.com
Hundreds of varieties of fruits and vegetables grow in Ontario each year, but many Ontario residents still face barriers to accessing those foods. Now, an innovative food accessibility program in Guelph is making it easier for its community members to buy fresh produce.The SEED – a community food project that delivers community programs to address food insecurity – offers weekly, affordable fresh food markets with items priced on a sliding price scale. The markets, running a few hours each week now in two neighbourhoods in Guelph, offer a large selection of fresh fruits and vegetables to residents who may face income, transportation or other barriers to eating well.“When people come to the market, they choose what they want to pay,” says Becca Clayton, community food markets co-ordinator at The SEED. “On the reduced end of the scale, we price items as low as we can offer while still covering our costs. The upper value of the scale is retail value. Customers can pay the retail end or the reduced rate, or anything in between — no questions asked.”While the community market has been operating in a downtown location at the Guelph Community Health Centre for less than a year, the program is already expanding. A second site, in a so-called “food desert” (located a significant distance from grocery stores) in Guelph’s east end opened in April 2018.Clayton says while a number of communities offer affordable fresh food markets, she believes the sliding scale model is less common.“We came to the sliding scale model in a collaborative meeting, after a large amount of research,” says Clayton. “Research suggests in sliding scale models for other services, people choose their price point based on their income very accurately. People are generally honest about choosing where their income sits on a sliding scale, and we thought it would make sense for fresh food too.”Clayton says in the market’s downtown Guelph location, approximately half of its sales are at the low-end of the sale. The other 50 per cent is sold at mid-to-retail price points.“That’s exactly the balance we’re looking for, because it allows everyone to shop in stigma-free space together,” says Clayton. “We need people of all incomes at the market for the model to work.”The food sold at the markets come from a variety of sources, including the Toronto Food Terminal and the Guelph Youth Farm, another project run by The SEED, which provides youth with urban agriculture and employment experience. Wherever possible, Clayton says market organizers seek direct relationships with local farmers.“It’s important to us that we offer good prices for our low-income customers as well as pay farmers fair wages for what they’re growing,” Clayton says. “We have relationships with apple farmers and garlic farmers, and we’re always looking for new connections.”The markets run on a social enterprise model, which allows for a small amount of profit. After staffing, cold storage and transportation costs are paid, the market aims to turn a small profit that will allow the project to operate sustainably, without reliance on grant funding.The Seed’s community markets have been awarded a Transformative Change Award from the Ontario Association of Health Centres.
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?
Chinese scientists have developed a nanomaterial to control potato sprouts and reduce the poisonous substance in potatoes, providing a new method for potato storage.Stored potatoes usually sprout rapidly, at the same time producing a significant amount of solanine, a toxic substance which endangers human health. Potato sprouts can be controlled using various techniques such as temperature control, irradiation and use of chemical inhibitors.Scientists from Hefei Institute of Physical Science under Chinese Academy of Sciences developed a new nanomaterial called hydrophobic nano silica that can be used to inhibit the growth of potato sprouts. When potatoes are immersed in the solution of the material, a hydrophobic coating is created on the surface of the potatoes, effectively inhibiting potato sprouts and decreasing solanine. | READ MORE
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 Walmart Foundation. A world first, the project is researching FLW from a whole 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.
Lynden-area vegetable grower Ken Forth will receive an honorary degree from the University of Guelph’s College of Business and Economics. Forth is being recognized for the profound impact he has had on the Canadian fruit and vegetable industry and on the lives of thousands of families across Mexico and the Caribbean over the course of his farming career.For 49 years, Forth has been directly involved with the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), and were it not for his work on labour issues on behalf of Canadian growers from coast to coast, Canadians would be hard-pressed to find fresh, locally grown produce on their store shelves. The program has also directly improved the standard of living of thousands of seasonal workers, allowing them to educate their children, and buy and operate their own farms and businesses in their home countries.“This is a tremendous and very unexpected honour,” says Forth. “This kind of work doesn’t happen alone – I’ve been fortunate to have the help and support of many great people over the years, from fellow growers to farm organization staff, and none of this would have been possible without them.”It’s through his involvement with many provincial and national organizations and committees that Forth represents the industry’s interests on everything from NAFTA and SAWP to minimum wage, labour regulations and unionization of agricultural workers.Forth has served on the board of Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (FARMS), the organization that administers SAWP, for more than 25 years, and assumed his current role as president more than a decade ago.He’s a past president of the Canadian Horticultural Council (CHC) and the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA), and is the long-serving chair of the labour and trade committees at both organizations. Forth also volunteers his time with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council, and is the chair of the Labour Issues Coordinating Committee that represents the interests of Ontario farm employers.“Our fruit and vegetable industry in Canada would not be what it is today without Ken’s tireless dedication to labour issues,” says OFVGA chair Jan VanderHout. “This work takes a lot of time on the road and away from farm and family and it’s almost always behind the scenes, but Ken has had an impact on every single grower in this country and we appreciate his service to our industry.”Forth was nominated for the honorary degree by University of Guelph associate professor Dr. Sara Mann, whose current research includes examining employment issues in the agricultural and rural sectors. He will formally receive his degree at a ceremony at the University of Guelph next spring.
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.”
Shipping cherries overseas is a high stakes game – every container carries approximately $100,000 of fruit. International consumers are becoming increasingly picky and buyers will only accept high quality cherries at port. Growers and packers are making it a top priority to ensure cherries make the journey in top form, impressing both international buyers and consumers.Fortunately, advances in science are making it possible to measure cherries’ quality while they are still hanging on the tree, without damaging any in the process. A team of researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Summerland is working with mobile hand-held optical spectrometers to develop models to precisely gauge the quality of cherries, and predict their firmness and flavour after storage or shipping.The research team Dr. Peter Toivonen leads the Postharvest Physiology program at AAFC’s Summerland Research and Development Centre, which includes research technician Brenda Lannard and biologist Changwen Lu. Together, they are fine-tuning models using specific commercial spectrometers to make this technology useful for Canadian cherry producers.The team is determining the best values for fruit quality and storability for cherry varieties, including Lapins, Staccato, Sweetheart and many others that are grown commercially. The work includes fine-tuning and expanding the use of the technology by developing specific protocols for working under a variety of conditions while ensuring consistent and meaningful readings. The team is also working to identify any limitations to the technology before transferring it to end-users. As with other technologies, users – most likely skilled quality assurance or field service staff – will need training before putting these devices to work in the field. Working with industry to properly implement the technology will be the key to success.What is the impact to growers?Using hand-held spectrometers, in combination with knowledge generated from Dr. Toivonen’s research, will give cherry growers precise data on their crop’s ‘best before’ date.“Being able to reliably measure the maturity and quality of cherries, without sacrificing any of that crop to sampling, will save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on container shipment claims for the industry,” estimates Dr. Toivonen.Consumers’ expectations are high and if Canadian growers can improve their reputation for consistent high quality and flavour, the industry will benefit. Growers could see a 10-20% increase on returns thanks to improved consistency in quality.“People are doing this work in other countries. If we are not part of it, we are behind,” advises Dr. Toivonen. Luckily, his team is working to keep the industry on the leading edge and consumers happy.A closer look at the science: Q&A with Dr. ToivonenWhat are optical spectrometers?An optical spectrometer is a scientific instrument that emits light and measures how much of that light reflects back to the instrument. You hold the device against a cherry, it shines light on the surface of the intact fruit, and it measures the amount of light of each wavelength reflected back. The reflected light depends on the chemical composition of the fruit. Spectrometers were once cumbersome pieces of equipment, suited only for laboratory use, but now they are designed specifically for use in orchards.What is dry matter?Dry matter is what’s left in the fruit after all the water is removed. In cherries, dry matter is equivalent to sugar content, and is a good indicator of ripeness, quality after storage and flavour.A grower who knows the dry matter content of their cherries can determine how well that fruit will do in storage, and decide which fruit to sell immediately and which to store or ship internationally. In short, using dry matter to make decisions on storage, shipping and market selection could lead to a consistent supply of crisp and delicious cherries from Canadian growers.How do you measure dry matter?The ‘old fashioned way’ of measuring dry matter isn’t practical for an orchard operation. You cut fruit into thin slices, weigh it and bake it at 60oC in an oven for two to three days until all the water is removed, then weigh it again. Your sample size is limited by oven space, samples are tedious to process, and valuable time is lost waiting for results. That could mean missing the best time for harvesting and shipping your cherries.After the team completes validation of the scientific models for commercial spectrometers, growers will have a tool that can produce instant dry matter readings on as much fruit as needed without damaging any of it.
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.
Storm Preparedness – are you ready?The following are recommendations to help you prepare for damaging winds, should they occur. Preparedness before and after a storm can improve your opportunity for a rapid recovery. Young trees can break in high winds if they have not been tied to support systems. Train young trees as quickly as possible before the storm is expected. Ensure that equipment is accessible if it will be needed for recovery, including saws, shovels, fuel, equipment parts, and knowledge of the location and cost of other equipment. A long-term strategy for storm preparedness includes insurance coverage for equipment and crops, windbreaks, ongoing disease management, and a regular pruning program to control tree size and improve air movement. A special note from Michelle, tree fruit specialist: Apple growers should be aware that damage to plant tissues is a fire blight trauma event in which fire blight bacteria have access to open wounds to enter and infect tissues. Please follow all local recommendations for fire blight trauma events and contact Michelle Cortens (c) 902-679-7908 for more information.
A new initiative will help to expand perennial crops such as apples, high bush blueberries, and grapes in Prince Edward Island.The Perennial Crop Development Program is being implemented under the new federal-provincial Canadian Agricultural Partnership.“Government is strongly committed to the expansion and diversification of the agriculture industry in this province,” Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Robert Henderson said. “Perennial crops provide both ecological and economic benefits, and this program will support innovations in production and storage practices.”Eligible expenses include the purchase of capital equipment and the adoption of leading edge technologies to reduce costs, add value, increase efficiencies, improve quality, and strengthen market access. Assistance of 50 per cent of the costs is available up to a maximum of $40,000 per project.The production of perennial crops is the province is diverse. In addition to crops such as blueberries and strawberries, there has been an increase in specialty crops including a rapid expansion in apple production.
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
Cavendish Farms recently announced that they will be focusing on the frozen potato processing business on Prince Edward Island due to the limited availability of raw product. The decision will result in the closure of their fresh produce packaging facility in O’Leary, Prince Edward Island at the end of the year. The closure will affect 40 employees.“Cavendish Farms has had to make this difficult business decision based on ongoing demand, and limited availability of potatoes on the Island,” said Ron Clow, general manager, Cavendish Farms. “The supply of raw product is critical to our business. Cavendish Farms had to make up for a shortage of 150 Million lbs. of potatoes in 2017. As a result, we needed to find other sources on the Island as well as import potatoes from New Brunswick, Manitoba, Alberta and Maine. Plans are already in place to import 65M lbs. this year. This practice is not sustainable. There simply aren’t enough potatoes on PEI for both our lines of business.”“Our human resources team will be providing support to all impacted employees by helping with new assignments, assistance to find other positions across J.D. Irving or with post-employment support once operations cease. We are making every effort to assist impacted employees,” added Clow. “This is an unfortunate consequence of low yields and lack of raw potatoes on PEI.”“Our contracted potatoes will be used to supply our frozen potato processing plants in New Annan,” said Clow. “We will continue to use the O’Leary facility for raw potato storage and, as such, it will continue to provide some seasonal employment.”If farmers are not able to grow more potatoes (by increasing yields, not acres) then the Prince Edward Island industry may not be sustainable as competition in the frozen potato export market intensifies. The PEI industry will require supplemental irrigation as part of the solution. The Island cannot afford to have its largest export product entirely dependent on rainfall.
Nematodes are pests that you need to keep an eye on in order to ensure the productivity of market garden crops. Several species are considered parasites of fruits and vegetables. Various types of nematicides have been used in the past to eliminate and/or control the spread of nematodes. Since the 1970s, these nematicides have been phased out of commercial use. The last fumigant nematicide was withdrawn over the last five years. Over time, it became apparent that they were not safe for users or for the environment.Consequently, it became important to develop alternative nematode control methods for producers of market garden crops. The researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Guy Bélair (retired) and Benjamin Mimee (a nematologist currently working in this field), are dedicated to the development of nematode control methods, for example through integrated pest management measures. This approach relies on a combination of cultural methods used in conjunction to reduce the density of nematodes in fields in order to minimize crop damage.The research experiments conducted by Mr. Bélair provided conclusive results concerning the most effective integrated pest management methods, in particular against endoparasitic nematodes. Because this type of nematode is an internal plant parasite, it prevents the plant from absorbing water and nutrients from the soil, which are necessary for optimal plant growth. This class of nematodes causes the greatest economic damage. There are three species of endoparasitic nematodes: the root-knot nematode, the lesion nematode, and the stem and bulb nematode.According to researcher Bélair, the following is a summary of the most important facts to remember in integrated pest management.Root-knot nematodeLearn more about it: Eggs are laid outside the root in a gelatinous mass. The second-stage larva (or infectious larva) is the only stage found in the soil. All the other stages are inside the root. Abundant rootlets (hairy roots) and whitish nodules on the rootlets. In carrot, significant deformation of the primary root. Complete development cycle: four to six weeks.Main market garden crops affected: carrot, celery, lettuce, tomato, potato, leek, Brassicaceae (broccoli, cabbage, turnip) and Cucurbitaceae (melon, cucumber).Best practice: To effectively and significantly reduce root-knot nematode populations, practise crop rotation with a grain at least every three to four years, since this type of nematode does not attack any grains. If the infestation is too heavy, two years of grains may be necessary. One year of onion followed by one year of grain has proven to be very effective in controlling nematode populations and increasing carrot yields by more than 50 per cent the following year.Other integrated pest management approaches: Fast-growing crops (spinach, radish): control by trapping, since the harvest will have taken place before the nematode has had time to multiply in the roots. Weed control on the edges and in the fields since weeds are excellent host plants for this nematode. Oriental mustard seed-based organic product registered in Canada for strawberry and cranberry. Lesion nematodeLearn more about it: All the stages of development except the egg can infect a root and are found in the soil. The entire development cycle takes place inside the root. By moving within the root, the nematode causes injuries or lesions, allowing certain pathogenic fungi to enter the plants. Complete development cycle: Four to six weeks.Main crops affected: potato, legumes, grains (rye, barley, oat, wheat), market garden crops.Best practice: A rotation with forage pearl millet reduces populations to below the damage threshold for several crops (potato, strawberry, raspberry, corn, apple tree, soybean). Sow millet in early June since it prefers a hot climate. If sown too early in the spring in wet, cool soil, it will not germinate well and will be quickly invaded and smothered by the growth of annual grasses.Based on our research between 2000 and 2006, we can conclude that, for potato, this type of rotation increased yields by 15 per cent to 35 per cent, depending on the density of the initial lesion nematode population.Other integrated pest management approaches: Weed control on the edges and in the fields since weeds are excellent host plants. Oriental mustard seed-based organic product. Manure- and/or compost-based soil amendments. Green manures from crucifers with high glucosinolate contents (including brown mustard). Stem and bulb nematodeLearn more about it: Unlike the other nematodes, this nematode does not affect the roots, but only the above-ground part of the plants (the stems). This endoparasitic nematode causes very significant damage in garlic crops. Through cryptobiosis (dehydration and dormancy), this nematode can survive in a field for four to five years without the presence of host plants. It is spread through contaminated plants and seeds.Our greenhouse trials demonstrated that this nematode reproduces well on garlic and onion, poorly on potato, and not at all on corn, soybean, barley, alfalfa, mustard, carrot and lettuce.Main market garden crops affected:Bulb race: garlic, onion, pea, strawberry, sugar beet.Oat race: rye, corn and oat, and most grains.Best practice: For producers, it is essential to use clean, i.e. nematode-free, plants or seeds.Other integrated pest management approaches: Based on genetic analyses of specimens from Quebec and Ontario, we can conclude that it is the same race. The integrated pest management methods used in Ontario can therefore also be used in Quebec. Garlic: hot water treatment to kill nematodes present in the cloves (study under way with agrologists from MAPAQ). Plant in nematode-free soil. A rotation of four to five years without host plants is a good method for getting rid of stem and bulb nematodes.Key discoveries (benefits): Since the 1970s, many nematicides used to control nematodes have been phased out of commercial use. It became important to develop alternative nematode control methods for producers of market garden crops. Guy Bélair, a researcher at the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu R&D Centre, has studied the most effective integrated pest management methods against endoparasitic nematodes, those that cause the most economic damage. These nematodes are internal plant parasites which prevent the plant from absorbing water and nutrients from the soil, necessary for optimal plant growth. This article presents a summary of the most effective integrated pest management practices for the three species of endoparasitic nematodes, i.e. the root-knot nematode, the lesion nematode, and the stem and bulb nematode.
Perennia in association with Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has been monitoring for leek moth across Nova Scotia since early May this year. Leek moth is an invasive insect pest from Europe that feeds on Allium species (onions, garlic, leeks,etc), and can cause significant damage to these crops. Previous to 2018, leek moth had been identified in Kings County twice, once in 2016 and again in 2017. In response to this a provincial leek moth monitoring project was established, to determine how widespread the pest is in Nova Scotia. As of July 3, 2018, leek moth has been confirmed in both Kings and Annapolis County. Currently the pest has not been found in large scale commercial fields, and all the leek moth samples have been from garlic. Leek moth favours garlic and leeks primarily; researchers are currently unsure of its effects in onion production.Leek moth can be monitored using commercially available pheromone traps, which attract adult males. The adult leek moth is a small (five to seven mm in length) brown moth with a distinctive white triangle in the middle of its wings when they are folded at rest. Additionally allium crops can be scouted for feeding damage from leek moth larvae. On alliums with flat leaves (garlics, leeks) the larvae feeds on the tops and inside of the leaves, as well as bores into the center of the plant leaving noticeable frass. In alliums with hollow leaves (onions, chives) the larvae will feed internally producing translucent areas on the leaf known as "windowing". The larvae will also occasionally bore into bulbs.There are several chemical controls registered for leek moth in garlic, leeks, and onions that can be found in the Perennia's Garlic Management Schedule, Leek Management Schedule, and Onion Management Schedule. These pesticides are most effective when eggs are present and leek moth larvae are small, so monitoring is crucial to ensure proper timing of applications. Row cover is also an effective means of protecting allium crops against leek moth, without using chemical controls.For additional information on leek moth identification and management please consult AAFC's An Integrated Approach to Management of Leek Moth. If you think you have leek moth please contact Matt Peill, horticultural specialist with Perennia (email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , cellphone: 902-300-4710).RELATED: Monitoring for Leek Moth
The PEI Analytical Laboratories (PEIAL) plant diagnostic section has re-opened for the 2018 season and is currently accepting samples.The PEIAL serves all commodity farmers, agricultural representatives and greenhouse producers. Crop types accepted include potatoes, cereals, fruit crops and cole crops. Common potato diseases identified routinely include late blight, Fusarium dry rot, leak, pink rot and bacterial blackleg. The lab will provide a summary report at no charge containing information on the disease in question along with relevant fact sheets and referrals to specialists from the Prince Edward Island Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.The diagnostic request form can be found at www.princeedwardisland.ca/labservices.When submitting a sample for diagnostic work, please include a diagnostic request form with the sample.The sample collected for submission should be fresh and representative of the problem. For plant material, the sample should be submitted in a plastic bag with a moist paper towel to help keep the integrity of the sample. Potato tuber samples should be submitted in paper bags. For more information on the proper collection of a sample for testing, please review the information at https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/agriculture‑and‑fisheries/how‑collect‑plant‑samples‑plant‑disease‑identification.For more information on this service, contact Marleen Clark at 902-368-5261 or 902-620-3300 or by email at
It is well known that vegetables are good for people but they could also be the key to making stronger and greener buildings.Engineers at Lancaster University are working with industrial partners at Cellucomp Ltd. UK to research how concrete mixtures can be strengthened and made more environmentally friendly by adding ‘nano platelets’ extracted from the fibres of root vegetables.The work, which is being supported with £195,000 by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 funding, will build on findings from early tests that have demonstrated that concrete mixtures including nano platelets from sugar beet or carrot significantly improve the mechanical properties of concrete.These vegetable-composite concretes were also found to out-perform all commercially available cement additives, such as graphene and carbon nanotubes and at a much lower cost.The root vegetable nano platelets work both to increase the amount of calcium silicate hydrate – the main substance that controls the performance of concrete, and stop any cracks that appear in the concrete.By increasing the performance of concrete, smaller quantities are needed in construction.The construction industry is urgently seeking ways in which to curb its carbon emissions. The production of ordinary Portland cement, one of the main ingredients for concrete, is very carbon intensive – its production accounts for eight per cent of total global CO2 emissions. This is forecast to double in the next 30 years due to rising demand.The proof-of-concept studies showed that adding the root vegetable nano platelets resulted in a saving of 40kg of ordinary Portland cement per cubic metre of concrete – which gives a saving of 40kg of CO2 for the same volume. This is because the greater strength of the root vegetable mixture means smaller sections of concrete are required in buildings.Professor Mohamed Saafi from Lancaster University’s Engineering Department and lead researcher, believes root vegetable concrete vegetables could go a long way to reducing construction carbon emissions.He said: “These novel cement nanocomposites are made by combining ordinary Portland cement with nano platelets extracted from waste root vegetables taken from the food industry.“The composites are not only superior to current cement products in terms of mechanical and microstructure properties, but also use smaller amounts of cement. This significantly reduces both the energy consumption and CO2 emissions associated with cement manufacturing.”The vegetable-based cementitious composites were also found to have a denser microstructure, which is important to prevent corrosion and increasing the lifespan of the materials.The research project is also looking at adding very thin sheets made from vegetable nano platelets to existing concrete structures to reinforce their strength. The researchers believe that the vegetable nanofibre-based sheets will out-perform existing alternatives, such as carbon fibre. This is partly because concrete beams reinforced with the sheets will be able to bend more, which would help deflect potentially damaging forces.The two-year research project will investigate the science behind the results of the proof-of-concept studies to gain a fuller understanding of how the vegetable nano platelet fibres enhance the concrete mix. The researchers will also seek to optimise the concrete performance to help produce a mixture that can be used in the construction industry.Cellucomp Ltd already uses fibres from root vegetables to manufacture more durable paints.Dr Eric Whale from Cellucomp Ltd said: “We are excited to be continuing our collaboration with Professor Saafi and developing new applications for our materials, where we can bring environmental and performance benefits.”
Late blight has been confirmed on tomato plants near Syracuse, New York (Onondaga County). At this time the late blight strain is not believed to be a known or common strain.The late blight confirmation is the first reported in the North East this season. The find is close enough that potato and tomato growers in Ontario should be on alert for this disease. | READ MORE 

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