March 27, 2017, Ridgetown, Ont – The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has released its 2017 schedule for integrated pest management (IPM) workshops for those who will be scouting horticultural crops this year. To register, please contact OMAFRA’s Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300.

Planning is also underway for scout training workshops for hops, hazelnuts and berry crops. Details for these workshops will be available soon.          

Introduction to IPM
May 2, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Conference Rm 1, 2 and 3, 1st Floor, 1 Stone Rd. West, Guelph
Workshop Leader: Denise Beaton
Notes: Lunch on your own. Handouts provided. Pay parking ($12/day).
Tomatoes & Peppers
April 28, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.          
Room 126 (Main Floor), Agronomy Building, University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus
Workshop Leader: Janice LeBoeuf
Notes: Lunch on your own. Handouts provided. See Resources for Vegetable Crop Scouts.

Field sessions available upon request
Email: Elaine Roddy, Vegetable Specialist – This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Cole Crops    
May 8, Time: TBD
Conference Rm 2, 1st Floor, 1 Stone Rd. West, Guelph
Workshop Leader: Dennis Van Dyk
Notes: Lunch on your own. Handouts provided. Pay parking ($12/day). See Resources for Vegetable Crop Scouts.

Lettuce, Celery, Onions, Carrots    
May 10, Time: TBD
Conference Rm 2, 1st Floor, 1 Stone Rd. West, Guelph
Workshop Leader: Dennis Van Dyk
Notes: Lunch on your own. Handouts provided. Pay parking ($12/day). See Resources for Vegetable Crop Scouts.

Sweet Corn, Bean and Pea
May 11, 9:30 a.m. to noon
Room 126 (Main Floor), Agronomy Building, University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus
Workshop Leader: Elaine Roddy
Notes: Lunch on your own

Cucurbit Crops
May 11, 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Room 126 (Main Floor), Agronomy Building, University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus
Workshop Leader: Elaine Roddy
Notes: Lunch on your own

May 4, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Auditorium, Simcoe OMAFRA Resource Centre
Workshop Leader: Kristy Grigg-McGuffin
Notes: Lunch on your own. Handouts provided. If possible, bring OMAFRA Publications 360 & 310 (available for purchase as well).

Tender Fruit and Grape      
May 9, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Rittenhouse Hall, Vineland OMAFRA Resource Centre
Workshop Leader: Wendy McFadden- Smith
Notes: Bring a laptop with WiFi capability. Lunch on your own.

Ginseng (IN-FIELD)  
June 15, 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. (Rain date: June 16, 1 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.)
C&R Atkinson Farms Ltd., 228 Charlotteville Rd. 1, St. Williams
Workshop Leaders: Sean Westerveld and Melanie Filotas

March 24, 2017, Mitchell, Ont – Ontario growers and processors of fruits and vegetables have successfully concluded an agreement for the 2017 vegetable season, the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Processing Association (OFVPA) announced.

"For the first time we could sit down directly with our partner growers and resolve many issues," said Steve Lamoure, president of OFVPA. "This happened because the Wynne government stepped in to get both parties to the table. We were within hours of losing significant parts of the growing season."

"The results of working with our grower partners, the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission and the Ontario government yielded positive results," he added. "The professional handling of the negotiations of all crops made for a more constructive dialogue on the issues that affect us all. We will continue to work with all parties for the advancement and growth of all processing vegetables."

As part of the deal, growers successfully negotiated to get back more than 100,000 tons of tomato production previously cut.

"The changes to the negotiation process was never about price,” said Lamoure. “This was about a working relationship that can protect and grow the industry. Our workers, growers, companies and communities all benefit. This is a major win for the growers, worth approximately $10 to $11 million.”

"Cooperation, trust and willingness to work together does make a difference," said Don Epp, executive director of the OFVPA. "Hopefully we have marked a turning point that will allow us to focus on growing our industry and open new opportunities for growers and processors. This will benefit everyone and strengthen the local economies of Southwestern Ontario."

The agreements cover fruits and vegetables processed in Ontario.

December 9, 2016 – Potato storage sheds in Manitoba are full, thanks to blockbuster yields this fall.

In fact, yields were so large that a portion of Manitoba’s potato crop is still in the ground. Consequently, about 1,300 acres of potatoes weren’t harvested this year in Manitoba out of 65,000 total acres. READ MORE

December 1, 2016, Guelph, Ont – Bayer recently announced the launch of Velum Prime nematicide, the first non-fumigant nematicide registered for potatoes in Canada.

Velum Prime is a new mode of action and chemical class (pyridinyl ethyl benzamide) for nematode protection. It offers growers effective nematode protection that helps sustain plant vigor and maximize crop yield potential.

“The launch of Velum Prime in Canada provides protection against a yield robbing pest that, for many growers, didn’t have a viable solution outside of fumigants,” said Jon Weinmaster, crop and campaign marketing manager for horticulture and corn at Bayer. “Potato growers have made great advances in increasing yields and quality and this tool will help them take it a step further.”

Recent trials of Velum Prime demonstrated consistent yield and quality increases and reduction in plant parasitic nematodes, including root lesion, root knot and potato cyst nematode.

“Velum Prime is another tool for use in a complete nematode management program,” said Weinmaster.

Velum Prime is applied in-furrow at planting. It comes in a liquid formulation that offers reliable efficacy at low application rates, making it ideal for use with existing in-furrow application equipment. Plus, applied in-furrow, Velum Prime offers the added benefit of early blight protection.

Available in 4.04L jugs, Velum Prime is easy to apply, with minimal use restrictions, including flexible tank mix compatibility.

Maximum residue limits for Velum Prime applied in-furrow are in place supporting trade in North America and Europe. Additional MRLs supporting trade in other key export countries, including Japan, are expected early in 2017.


November 21, 2016, Ithaca, NY – A Cornell University program is reimagining kale – its colour, shape and even flavour – in a bid to breed the naturally biodiverse vegetable for consumer satisfaction.

October 5, 2016, Edmonton, Alta – The HortSnacks-to-Go 2016-2017 Webinar Series gets underway on October 17, 2016, at 3 p.m. MT.

“This first webinar in the series features Barb Stefanyshyn-Cote of Black Fox Farm and Distillery,” says Dustin Morton, commercial horticulture specialist, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF). “Barb and her family operate their farm and distillery just outside of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. In this webinar, Barb will discuss how they got started, the trials and tribulations of cut flowers, and what they’ve learned along the way.”

There is no charge to attend the webinar. To register, call Dustin Morton at 780-679-1314 or via email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . For more information on the HortSnacks-to-Go Webinar Series, go to AF's horticulture homepage.

October 5, 2016, Denmark – Life can be difficult for a potato plant when the soil is thirsting for water and nutrients – unless the plant is given a helping hand from a certain group of fungi.

September 7, 2016, Vineland, Ont – It’s no secret that there’s a growing ethnic population of Canadians who have preferences for foods from their home countries. That fact brings with it unique opportunities for farmers to produce crops that haven’t traditionally been grown locally.

Okra is one such crop.

More than six million kilograms of okra is imported into Canada every year and the demand climbs annually. India is the top producer of the world’s okra, growing more than 70 per cent of the global crop. Other big producers are Nigeria, Sudan, Iraq and Pakistan.

The United States is the 20th largest producer, accounting for only 0.1 per cent of the world’s production. In the U.S, okra is grown in southern states like Florida, Texas and Louisiana, where the vegetable is used in the popular gumbo dish. It’s a subtropical crop that thrives in a hot and dry environment, so Canada hasn’t always been the most logical place for production.

Dr. Viliam Zvalo is a research scientist in the area of vegetable production at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. A native of Slovakia, he joined the team in 2014 with a mandate to investigate opportunities for world crop production for Canadian farmers.

The biggest challenges in growing okra in Canada are the shorter growing season and the labour requirements. During the harvest season, plants need to be harvested daily to give the immature pods time and space to grow, which requires a big staffing commitment.

To help boost the crop’s potential and maximize growing time, seeds are started in greenhouses and then transplanted into fields covered in black plastic mulch to increase heat to the plants. Spacing of the plants is critical – the further apart, the higher their yields.

To date, crop trials have shown that three particular varieties – Lucky Green, Elisa and Jambalaya – do the best in Canada.

Last year, 22 farmers grew small trials across Canada from Nova Scotia to British Columbia and have had similar results in all areas. This year the number will increase to about 30 growers.

The crops are planted into fields in late May and bloom a month later. Peak production is between the middle of July and the end of September. Each plant (which can grow seven feet high) can generate 60 to 70 okra pods. Pods are light though – between seven and 10 grams each – so the entire harvest per plant is about 0.6 to 0.7 kilograms.

Growers, researchers and retailers are all optimistic about the results to date and the work is garnering international attention.

Recently, an Indian company contacted Zvalo to see about providing seeds from a late season variety for Vineland to test in Canada.

“Attention like this will help us continue to look for better varieties.”

“Okra’s an interesting crop. It can be quite finicky but there’s great potential,” Zvalo said.

He concluded, “It’s a matter of finding the right varieties, the right location and the right buyers.”

The project is funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario.

Asian and Indian eggplant Photo by AgInnovation Ontario

June 28, 2016, Vineland, Ont – Chinese long and Indian round eggplant are one of Ontario’s newest locally grown vegetable crops, thanks to ongoing research at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (VRIC).

Some quantities of field-grown Canadian Asian eggplant are already available at retail stores in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec, but researchers at VRIC are also working on developing year-round greenhouse production of the veggies.

VRIC’s World Crops program started in 2008 with a series of projects to evaluate different vegetable crops popular with new Canadians from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Okra and eggplant were ultimately selected as the two most promising crops based on potential volumes and growing ability in Ontario.

“In 2015, over 24 million kilograms of eggplant were imported into Canada,” explains Dr. Viliam Zvalo, a vegetable production research scientist at VRIC working on the project. “This has increased by 32 per cent in the last five years, so by 2030, we expect a market of 50 million kilograms just for eggplant.”

He adds that key markets lie with immigrant communities particularly from South East Asia, but there’s also opportunity created by the changing palates of long-time Canadians.

According to Dr. Zvalo, the project’s objective is to give Canadian growers the chance to participate in the market opportunities created by immigration and changing consumer preferences by developing production systems for these new crops.

VRIC’s researchers are currently working with Chinese long eggplant (a bright purple vegetable of about 30 centimetres in length), Japanese or Taiwanese eggplant that has a similar shape but with a darker colour, and the smaller Indian round eggplant.

“The Chinese long eggplant and Japanese eggplant represent about 85 per cent of the market,” Dr. Zvalo says. “The Indian round eggplant offers a smaller opportunity, but we’ve had some interest from retailers hoping to market it as baby eggplant, so that could grow this category.”

In a greenhouse setting, eggplant vines grow five to seven metres high, whereas they only grow 60 to 90 centimetres tall in the field. Plantings are at a density of 2.3 plants per square metre with three heads per plant for a total of 6.9 heads per square metre, similar to what commercial growers would have.

In a high wire greenhouse, the standard is one crop per year with a yield of 35 to 40 kilograms per square metre of eggplant, which is comparable to greenhouse peppers, whose yield can range from 30 to 45 kilograms per year.

“In the greenhouse, we’ve grafted the best varieties from previous trials onto various tomato and eggplant rootstocks to help us determine the best combination of variety and rootstock,” Dr. Zvalo says, adding that grafting could double yield.

Grafting may also be an option for field eggplant production to help combat soil borne diseases, where fumigation is currently the only tool available to growers.

Also part of VRIC’s field eggplant trials is ongoing selection of the best varieties and best production methods for outdoor production, such as spacing, fertility management, use of floating row covers and plastic mulch, staking, and pruning.

“Our World Crops project has two more years and next year we will be doing a commercial trial in the greenhouse with best variety and rootstock combinations, half in Chinese long and half in Indian round varieties,” explains Dr. Zvalo. “We’re hoping to capture some grower interest in this new crop.”

June 28, 2016, Ridgetown, Ont – The Ridgetown campus of the University of Guelph is hosting a vegetable open house July 19 for commercial vegetable growers and agribusiness.

Participants can choose an afternoon (1:30 – 4:30 p.m.) or evening (6 – 9 p.m.) tour. For either tour, participants are asked to meet at the Ridgetown Campus tomato breeding plots on Selton Line, just off Howard Road. Watch for the signs.

The tour will proceed to wagons on campus in Ridgetown (park beside RDC building) starting at 2:15 or 6:45 p.m. Look for the signs.

Each tour will conclude with refreshments in Willson Hall.

No preregistration is required and there is no cost.

Highlights include:

  • Herbicide tank mixes with Sandea in tomatoes
  • Herbicide tank mixes for cucumbers
  • Control of linuron-resistant pigweed in carrots
  • Effect of residual herbicides on establishment of interseeded cereal rye in snap beans
  • Fungicide programs for cucumbers and tomatoes with reduced use of chlorothalonil
  • Validation of best management practices for bacterial spot in tomatoes
  • Evaluation of tomato and pumpkin cultivars for tolerance to bacterial spot
  • Corn, cucumber, pea variety trials
  • Field pea heat tolerance
  • Processing tomato, pepper and cucumber fertility
  • Biodegradable mulch
  • Clean seed production in garlic
  • Processing tomato breeding
  • Cover crops
  • Nutrient management
  • OMAFRA updates and more

For more information, contact Janice LeBoeuf at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 519- 674-1699.

June 15, 2016, Guelph, Ont – Several fields of garlic in Ontario have been completely destroyed by stem and bulb nematodes in recent years. This microscopic worm-like pest has been spreading from field to field unknowingly in contaminated garlic cloves sold and used for seed.

Obvious symptoms of stem and bulb nematode damage often do not appear until late June or early July when the scape has emerged. Infected plants appear stunted, turn yellow, dry prematurely and are easily pulled from the soil leaving the rotted region of the bulb where the roots attach, called the basal plate, in the soil. Infested garlic bulbs tend to be soft, shriveled, discoloured and lighter in weight. Often bacteria, fungi, maggots and mites will invade severely infested bulbs causing them to become mushy with soft rot and decay.

There are many strains of stem and bulb nematode. Some strains can infect a few hosts while others have a broad host range. Based on research results conducted at the University of Manitoba, the Ontario garlic strain can infect and reproduce on yellow pea, bean, chickpea, and garlic but not on lentil, spring wheat or canola. Common crops grown in rotation with garlic in Ontario were not tested and will be the focus of two research projects over the next couple of years by University of Guelph and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Québec. Another objective of research is to evaluate the genetic diversity of the stem and bulb nematode populations in Ontario and Quebec and eventually link that information to host range.

In order to learn about the diversity of the stem and bulb nematode populations in Ontario garlic, Dr. Benjamin Mimee, AAFC, is looking for two to three bulbs of garlic infested with stem and bulb nematode from 15 to 20 different locations across Ontario. If you have stem and bulb nematode damage in your garlic, please call Michael Celetti at 519-824-4120, ext. 58910 to arrange for a sample of the infested garlic to be picked up. Alternatively you can send your stem and bulb nematode infested garlic bulbs to:

Michael Celetti,
Plant Pathologist – Horticulture Crops Program Lead, OMAFRA
Room 3110, Edmund Bovey Building, University of Guelph,
50 Stone Road, Guelph, Ontario
N1G 2W1

The infested bulbs should be placed in a paper bag or wrapped in newspaper. Your name, address and phone number as well as the variety should be printed on the bag or on a separate piece of paper included with the sample in order for us to contact you if we require further information about the sample.

June 1, 2016, Ridgetown, Ont – Young asparagus fields are most susceptible to foliar diseases.

Depending on the weather conditions, they will typically appear soon after the plants begin to fern out. Scout regularly, especially as harvest winds down in the immature fields. Both rust and purple spot lesions have been reported in numerous fields this week. Foliar fungicide programs are most effective if they are started at very early stages of development; before the disease gets into the upper canopy, branches and cladophyls. Both diseases start in the bottom 12 to 24-inches of the stem.

Rust first appears as slightly raised, oval lesions; 2 to 5mm in length. Depending on the age of the lesion, the colour ranges from pale cream to light green or light orange. Dark orange spores appear as the disease matures. These spores disseminate in the canopy causing further infections.

Stemphylium appears as a slightly sunken, oval lesion. Very new infections are brownish purple in colour. Older ones have a light tan centre with a darker purple border. Stemphylium spores will also move quickly from the lower lesions into the new growth.

We are interested in scouting immature asparagus fields (two to three years old) and monitoring the foliar health of these crops over the growing season. If you have a young field, and are interesting in participating in the project, contact Elaine Roddy at 519-674-1616 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

May 9, 2016, Medford, MA – Half of the world's fruit and vegetable crops are lost during the food supply chain, due mostly to premature deterioration of these perishable foods, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Tufts University biomedical engineers have demonstrated that fruits can stay fresh for more than a week without refrigeration if they are coated in an odorless, biocompatible silk solution so thin as to be virtually invisible. The approach is a promising alternative for preservation of delicate foods using a naturally derived material and a water-based manufacturing process.

The work is reported in the May 6 issue of Scientific Reports.

Silk's unique crystalline structure makes it one of nature's toughest materials. Fibroin, an insoluble protein found in silk, has a remarkable ability to stabilize and protect other materials while being fully biocompatible and biodegradable.

For the study, researchers dipped freshly picked strawberries in a solution of 1 percent silk fibroin protein; the coating process was repeated up to four times. The silk fibroin-coated fruits were then treated for varying amounts of time with water vapor under vacuum (water annealed) to create varying percentages of crystalline beta-sheets in the coating. The longer the exposure, the higher the percentage of beta-sheets and the more robust the fibroin coating. The coating was 27 to 35 microns thick.

The strawberries were then stored at room temperature. Uncoated berries were compared over time with berries dipped in varying numbers of coats of silk that had been annealed for different periods of time. At seven days, the berries coated with the higher beta-sheet silk were still juicy and firm while the uncoated berries were dehydrated and discoloured.

Tests showed that the silk coating prolonged the freshness of the fruits by slowing fruit respiration, extending fruit firmness and preventing decay.

"The beta-sheet content of the edible silk fibroin coatings made the strawberries less permeable to carbon dioxide and oxygen. We saw a statistically significant delay in the decay of the fruit," said senior and corresponding study author Dr. Fiorenzo G. Omenetto. Dr. Omenetto is the Frank C. Doble Professor in the department of biomedical engineering and also has appointments in the department of electrical engineering and in the department of physics in the school of arts and sciences.

Similar experiments were performed on bananas, which, unlike strawberries, are able to ripen after they are harvested. The silk coating decreased the bananas' ripening rate compared with uncoated controls and added firmness to the fruit by preventing softening of the peel.

The thin, odorless silk coating did not affect fruit texture. Taste was not studied.

"Various therapeutic agents could be easily added to the water-based silk solution used for the coatings, so we could potentially both preserve and add therapeutic function to consumable goods without the need for complex chemistries," said the study's first author, Dr. Benedetto Marelli, formerly a post-doctoral associate in the Omenetto laboratory and now at MIT.

May 9, 2016, Toronto, Ont – The Yukon Gold potato might have come from humble roots, but the Canadian-bred spud has achieved global status among chefs and food writers.

It seems Gary Johnston, the plant scientist who bred the yellow-fleshed potato 50 years ago, was ahead of his time. READ MORE

April 21, 2016, Charlottetown, PEI – The $1.8 million cut to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is not as bad as it sounds, says minister Alan MacIsaac.

The provincial budget shows a five per cent cut to the department, with most of the money coming from the agriculture side. McIsaac said when you take revenues into consideration, it's not really a cut at all. READ MORE

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