Post-harvest potato storage expert Todd Forbush of Techmark Inc. in Lansing, Mich., says quality potato storage requires just two things: quality storage facilities and quality potatoes to store.

“Neither will meet their potential without both working successfully together,” he says.

The first step is to evaluate your existing facility to decide if it needs just an upgrade or something different entirely. When evaluating an existing structure, you need to look at its location, the structure itself, its insulation system, its ventilation systems and the controls.

From a location perspective, your operation should be situated near the production point to minimize transport costs, preferably on a road that has 12-month access. Also, it should be located where there is sufficient electrical power supply, specifically three-phase power.

“This is a very important factor,” says Forbush. “Three-phase power is an important piece of the puzzle.”

In terms of size, you need enough rooms to hold each variety. Not only that, but those rooms should also consider the climate that you’re harvesting from. “We want one variety in there, we want to fill that bin in three days’ time, and we want to be able to sell that crop in less than three weeks,” says Forbush.

“If it takes you too long to fill that bin of potatoes, you’re going to have a lot of diversity as far as the harvest conditions that you went through and those are going to come back and cause losses in storage. And losses in storage are losses right across the bottom line.”

When it comes to potato storage, insulation requirements say that you should have an R-value of 45-60 in the ceiling, an R-value of 35 to 40 for the sidewalls, and high to low-density materials from the inside out.

“You don’t want to trap moisture in those walls,” says Forbush. “So what happens is we’ve got a moist, warm environment inside the building. If you let that moisture get into the insulation system it’s going to condense at some point after. If it condenses near structural material, it can compromise it. It’s important that once that moisture moves into the wall it can move out.”

Ventilation 101
“Why is it that we have a ventilation system in potato storage?” Forbush asks.

Because you want to create a uniform environment, while at the same time maintaining proper potato temperature. You also want to provide oxygen for respiration and remove carbon dioxide from respiration.

A poorly designed ventilation system can cause air to be pulled from and directed to the wrong places in your bin. The result is non-uniform ventilation. There are industry-accepted standards for designing and evaluating ventilation system performance in potato storage. Air takes the path of least resistance, Forbush reminds growers. If you’re not sure whether or not your air is going where you want it to go, measure it. Remember, your ventilation system’s airflow is a function of its design. By quantifying the flow of air through your bin you’ll know just where your system needs improvement.

According to Forbush, a well-designed ventilation system includes these attributes:
  • adequate airflow 1.25 to 1.5 cfm/cwt for table stock and process potatoes (25 to 30 cfm/ton)
  • inlet and exhaust max of 1,400 ft./min.
  • main air plenum maximum of900 ft./min.
  • lateral duct maximum of 1,000 ft./min.
  • slot duct max of 1,200 ft./min.
To calculate where the air is going in your storage space, collect the following information to determine airflow: fan size, horsepower and manufacturer; bin capacity (L x W x potato pile height); plenum area (the chamber prior to the potatoes); fresh air, return air, exhaust air and humicell area; duct area (pipe or flume size and quantity); and slot area (type of slot guarded or not).

For example, here are the calculations for a well-balanced bin:
  • Bin size: length = 200ft; width = 50 ft.; pile height = 16 ft.
  • 200 x 50 x 16/2.5 = 64,000 - (factor for pile slope) = 60,000 cwt storage
  • Fans: Two to 48-inch;15 hp Aerovent = 78,000 cfm
  • Airflow equals cfm/cwt:
  • 78,000/60,000 = 1.30 cfm
“The most important thing is to make sure that your air system in your potato storage has got even airflow throughout the entire storage,” says Forbush. “The most common mistake would be in the sizing of air ducts and slots – the entry point for the air system into the potato pile. The most commonly missed number is the number that determines that the air’s moving at the correct speed going into the pile.”

“The key for slot design is the slot design provides that back pressure, which then gives you uniform airflow,” he continues. “So if you don’t have
uniform back pressure, you don’t have uniform airflow.”

Here’s how to determine slot area. If it’s pipe, measure the size, number of rows and distance of holes drilled in the pipe. If they’re flumes, measure the board width and amount of open space between each board. For example, our example: 78,000 / 65 ft^2 = 1200 fpm.

“The other side of slot design is poor slot design can cause a defect called pressure bruise, which is excessive evaporation,” says Forbush. “And even with a proper humidification system, if the slot is designed incorrectly the air can’t carry that water into the potato pile. So poor slot design can also lead to this pressure bruise issue, even with good humidification equipment.”

Creating the perfect potato
The second part of the quality potato storage equation is the potato itself. In potatoes, the factors that affect storage performance include environment, your agronomy, varietal traits, disease and harvest and management practices.

The most important factor in determining storage performance is variety.

“Varietal traits give us a starting point for understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the crop going into storage,” says Forbush. When choosing a variety, look for such traits as yield, specific gravity, sugar profile in storage, bruise resistance and disease resistance.

The next most important factor in determining storage performance is the weather, but that’s something you have no control over. While you have no control over the environment, you do have control over soil conditions and your agronomy.

“Those four things come together to kind of create the fingerprint or the way the genetics are expressed for that
potato,” says Forbush. “Given those four things, you’re then going to determine how those impacted each other, and you do that with what’s called pre-harvest sampling.”

Pre-harvest data is a valuable piece of the “complete picture” of your tubers’ maturity and storability.

“What you’re trying to do is figure out how those four main pieces came together in any given season and then determine what the best storage practices are given the way those four variables impacted the crop’s genetic expression.”

Finally, in order to implement these ideas on your operation it’s important that you have great communicate with your staff.

“If your staff members do not understand operations goals, they cannot help achieve those goals,” says Forbush. “Identify areas where improvements in your storage facility and storage management practices can help achieve
operational goals.”
Published in Storage
Zebra chip is a potato disease that was first observed in Saltillo, Mexico, in 1994, and later discovered in the U.S. in 2000 in south Texas in the lower Rio Grand Valley area. Zebra chip has now spread throughout Latin America and has been reported in at least eight U.S. states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska. In 2011, it was also reported in the Pacific Northwest – Oregon, Washington and Idaho. It has also been found in New Zealand. Between 2004 and 2005, it is estimated that zebra chip cost growers and processors millions of dollars.

Symptoms of zebra chip
“The thing about zebra chip is that it causes both foliar symptoms and tuber symptoms,” says Dr. Phillip Wharton of the University of Idaho’s Aberdeen Research & Extension Center.

Foliar symptoms include leaf curling, yellowing, purpling and distortion. Symptoms may also include swollen nodes, which result in a zigzag pattern or stems. In the case of a heavy infection, leaves can become scorched and purple.

In the tubers, the most common symptom is discoloration of the vascular rings.

The disease has been named “zebra chip” is because potato chips made from affected tubers display dark stripes and streaks, like those of a zebra.

“This could be confused with some viruses that you can find in potatoes, but classically you see a slice of necrosis of the vascular tissue,” says Wharton.

Zebra chip vector
The insect that transmits the zebra chip pathogen is the potato/tomato psyllid, or Bactericera cockerelli.

“Zebra chip the disease was first associated with the potato psyllid before it was associated with the bacterium, which causes the disease,” says Wharton.

Native to North America, the potato psyllid has also been found in Mexico and as far north as southern Canada. The insect looks like an aphid, with slightly different characteristics. It overwinters in deserts along the border between the U.S. and Mexico. As the season warms up, though, it spreads to the northern regions, as far as British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

“There are other species of psyllids that can appear on the potato, but don’t necessarily transmit the disease,” he says. “One thing to note is that just because you might find psyllids does not mean that you’re going to find zebra chip or the pathogen. Not all potato psyllids have the bacteria in them.”

To control zebra chip, the potato psyllid vector must be managed. “The problem is that even with insecticide the potato psyllid is difficult to manage,” he says. “One of the reasons for that is that you need good coverage. Psyllids tend to be on the underside of the leaf. The other problem is that the different stages of their life cycle require the use of different insecticides as chemicals that control the adults don’t necessarily control the larvae or kill the eggs.”

What are the implications for Ontario growers? Although potato psyllids have not been found east of the Mississippi river yet, as the weather patterns warm up, there is a risk of migration further north. In North America, for the most part, wind and hot temperatures drive psyllid migration in late spring. Although current weather means the chances of psyllids migrating to Ontario are slim, if they are introduced to Florida they could be blown up the east coast and into Ontario.

“It’s still a very young disease, and there’s still a lot to learn,” he concludes.

To learn more, visit

PVY, which stands for potato virus Y, is also known as “common mosaic” or “potato severe mosaic.” The original strain, PVYo, was the only one found in North America, that is, until very recently when PVYn was reported as well.

“The difference between PVYo and PVYn is primarily their pathogenicity toward tobacco,” says Wharton. “PVYo causes a mild mosaic reaction whereas PVYn leads to mortality. Their
impact on the potato is basically the same.”

Until recently when it was confirmed in North America, PVYntn was only found primarily in Europe.

“PVYntn is a strain of PVYn that causes necrosis on tobacco, but also causes flecking and ringspot symptoms in tubers. The ‘ntn’ stands for ‘PVYn – tuber necrotic,’ ” says Wharton.

In PVY infections, typical symptoms include stunting and foliar mosaic, which can be seen in Russet Burbank and Red Norland varieties. A number of other potato varieties, though, display mild or no symptoms at all when contaminated with the virus. These varieties, which are often referred to as “PVY carriers,” include CalWhite, Gem Russet, GemStar Russet, Russet Norkotah (all strains), Shepody and Silverton Russet. In some varieties, such as Ranger Russet, PVY infection may cause severe foliar damage, wilting and even death of the entire plant, a range of symptoms that are characteristic of the “ordinary” strain of the virus, or PVYo.

“The PVYn symptoms are relatively similar, but this new strain of the virus causes milder foliar reactions and there are some latent symptoms as well,” he says.

“The main problem with them is that although they cause less severe foliar symptoms,” she says, “they do cause necrotic tuber symptoms. PVYntn can cause severe internal necrotic ‘circles’ in tubers making them unusable for anything else other than potato flakes.”

These symptoms have been found in other varieties, such as Umatilla, Alturas and Yukon Gold. Other symptoms have been seen in German Butterball and Russet Ranger, as well.

With PVYntn, symptoms include mild mottling and tuber necrosis.

“More work needs to be done on the PVYn and PVYntn strains, but so far it looks like you can get up to 50 per cent losses, depending on the cultivar, but the trouble with these varieties is then you also get tuber loss,” he says. “So you start with low yields and they’re reduced even further because you have tubers that are unsellable basically.”

The first and most important step in the management of PVY is buying disease-free seed, he says. As a seed grower, you should never purchase seed with a little amount of virus thinking that field rouging will bring a lot into certification standards.

“It’s hard to visually identify all of the infected plants,” says Wharton. “Walk your fields and remove any infected plants. The earlier in the season that infected plants are rogued out, the lower the amount of spread.”

“As a commercial grower, you should never buy a seed lot at a bargain basement price when it has a high reading of greater than two to three per cent of the virus because you’re not doing yourself any favours if you do,” he continues. “It can lead to high yield losses.

“In Idaho, two per cent is the threshold for the re-certification of seed potato, so if you have less than two per cent PVY then you cannot use that as seed,” he says. “It has to go to commercial use.”

Aphids transmit PVY. In fact, any aphid that probes the leaf while determining if the potato is a suitable host can spread the disease. Any insect aphid that probes the leaf can spread the disease. Therefore, stopping the spread of PVY using insecticides is almost impossible because the insecticide can spread the virus before the insecticide kills it. Unfortunately, insecticides are only good for keeping the aphids from colonizing a field.

“Research has shown that some of these new insecticides tend to alter the behaviour of the aphids and reduce the spread of the disease, but will not reduce the amount of the infection,” says Wharton. “So it’s more of a barrier than a cure.”

In Idaho, some farmers have applied crop oils from July until vine kill, which has been shown to interfere with the spread of the transmission.

For more information on the potato virus, please visit ❦
Published in Research
Increases in ground-level ozone, especially in rural areas, may interfere not only with predator insects finding host plants, but also with pollinators finding flowers, according to researchers from Penn State and the University of Virginia.

“Ozone pollution has great potential to perniciously alter key interactions between plants and animals,” the researchers said in a recent issue of Environmental Research Letters.

The insect tested was the striped cucumber beetle, a predator of cucurbits. The insects dine on the plants from the moment they emerge from the ground and when fruit forms, they eat that as well.

Jose D. Fuentes, professor of meteorology, and his colleagues tested the beetles in an enclosed Y-tube apparatus so that the insect could choose which branch to take. Researchers collected the insects from pumpkin and squash plants. They tested the insects using buffalo gourd plants, a naturally growing wild gourd that likes semiarid areas.

Separate air streams flowed into the two branches of the Y-tube.

The researchers tested the insects with all ambient air, with ambient air and ozone, with ambient air and volatile organic compounds, and with ambient air and a mix of ozone and volatile organic compounds. When presented with an ambient air or volatile organic compound airstream, the beetles chose the volatile organic compound tube 80 per cent of the time.

The researchers also tested the beetles with volatile organic compounds and a mix of volatile organic compounds and ozone. At low ozone levels, the insects showed no preference, but as ozone
levels increased, the insects increasingly preferred the ozone-free path.

While one might think that higher ozone levels in the lower atmosphere would improve crops because predator insects would be unable to find their hosts, the additional ozone would also interfere with mutualistic insect plant
responses such as pollination. ❦
Published in Research
October 22, 2013 – Researchers at Cornell University have identified some agricultural management practices in the field that can either boost or reduce the risk of contamination in produce.

Illnesses and deaths could be reduced without any costs to growers, according to the research, which studied two major foodborne pathogens: salmonella, the biggest single killer among the foodborne microbes, and Listeria monocytogenes. READ MORE
Published in Food Safety
September 24, 2013, Vineland, Ont – The Vineland Research and Innovation Centre recently announced that its board of directors has appointed three new members.

Rory Francis, executive director of BioAlliance; Dr. Warren Jestin, senior vice-president and chief economist with Scotiabank; and Phil Tregunno, president of Tregunno Fruit Farms Inc., will join Vineland’s board, effective immediately. The appointments increase the number of Vineland directors from 10 to 13.

“Since its start-up in 2007, Vineland has worked to recruit talented and diverse leaders to its independent board,” said John F.T. Scott, chair of the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre.  “Rory, Warren and Phil bring tremendous operational, capital and leadership expertise to the table. I'm confident their contributions will support Dr. Jim Brandle and his team in accelerating Vineland’s unique research value across the horticultural sector, serving our stakeholders, and strengthening partnerships from research to retail.”

Vineland’s distinctive model of private sector and industry investment, program delivery and focus on real results benefits tremendously from the advice and direction provided by a board made up of such experienced leaders,” said Dr. Jim Brandle, chief executive officer of the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. “Rory, Warren and Phil bring remarkable talent to the board and I'm grateful for their support, as well as the ongoing support from all of the directors.”

Rory Francis – Rory has 30 years experience in professional, management and leadership roles in the public and private sectors. He has led transformative change in several public sector organizations encompassing economic and social policy, programs and services.

Since 2004 he has been executive director of BioAlliance, a not-for-profit network of bioscience business, academic and research organizations and government agencies based on Prince Edward Island.

Rory is a member of the Canadian Bio Accord and serves as a board member with the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute, the PEI AgriFood Alliance Inc., and is chair of the advisory board for the Culinary Institute of Canada’s Technology Access Centre.

Dr. Warren Jestin – Warren is chief economist with Scotiabank and has been with the bank since 1979.  He has also worked at the Bank of Canada and taught at several Canadian universities. Warren is economist-in-residence at the College of Management and Economics of the University of Guelph, and has served on advisory boards for the University of Guelph and the Sobey School of Business at St. Mary's University.

Warren has been a member of the C.D. Howe Institute’s Monetary Policy Council and been involved with policy committees of the Canadian and Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Toronto Board of Trade. As chair of Scotiabank’s Sponsorship and Donations Committee, Warren works closely with a wide variety of charitable institutions.

Phil Tregunno – Phil is a fourth-generation farmer operating the 700-acre Tregunnno Fruit Farms Inc. along the Niagara River in Ontario. With a focus on new technologies, improved varieties and organics, the operation has grown and prospered, packing more quality fruit for the Canadian marketplace.

Phil serves as chairman of the Ontario Tender Fruit Producers Marketing Board, chairman of Vineland Growers Co-operative, and as director of the Winery and Growers Alliance of Ontario.

Vineland’s board of directors also includes Robert Bierhuizen, president of Sunrise Greenhouses Ltd.; Paul-André Bosc Jr., resident of Château des Charmes; Dr. Jim Brandle, chief executive officer of the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre; Marilyn Knox, president and chief executive officer, Maternal and Infant, Nestlé Nutrition North America; Anthony Longo, president and chief executive officer of Longo Brothers Fruit Markets Inc.; Alan Ralph, retired chartered accountant, Deloitte & Touche LLP;  John Scott, chair of the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre; William Stensson, chief executive officer of Sheridan Nurseries; The Honourable Lyle Vanclief, former Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food; and Jamie Warner, owner of Warner Orchards.
Published in Marketing
August 13, 2013, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. – A water and research demonstration day for grape growers is being held August 14, 2013, at two farms in the Niagara area.

The program begins at 9 a.m. at the farm of Martin Schuele, located at 3876 Lakeshore Road, Beamsville, and ends at Dave Lambert’s Farm, 370 Line 1, Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Presenters will be discussing irrigation and water management, including an update on the Water Resource Adaptation and Management Initiative. Soil moisture monitoring, evapotranspiration, water application uniformity and water infiltration in different soil types will also be discussed.

Research updates will also be presented on sour rot, powdery mildew, Japanese beetles, brown marmorated stink bug and a potassium survey.

To register, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 905-688-0990.

Published in Fruit
Aug. 6, 2013, Geneva, NY - After years of development and consumer testing as NY1 and NY2, Cornell University and the New York Apple Growers have given the hottest new apples in the Empire State names worthy of their unique assets:
SnapDragon and RubyFrost.

The names were revealed recently by Jeff Crist, vice chairman of the NYAG board of directors, at the annual Fruit Field Days at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, where Cornell breeder and horticulture professor Susan Brown developed the varieties.

"SnapDragon is a great name for this apple because consumers found its crispy texture and sweet flavor so appealing," said Mark Russell, an apple grower and NYAG member.

SnapDragon, formerly NY1, gets its juicy crispness from its Honeycrisp parent, and it has a spicy-sweet flavour that was a big hit with taste testers. Russell anticipates it will be a popular apple for snacking, especially for children.

Brown said she recognized its promise and fast-tracked it for commercialization.

"I remember my very first bite of SnapDragon. The taste, the crispness and the juiciness impressed us," Brown said. "Retailers will appreciate its other qualities as well, because although SnapDragon's harvest window starts relatively early – in late September – its long storage and shelf life means retailers may be able to offer it with consistent quality for a longer time than Honeycrisp."

RubyFrost, formerly NY2, which ripens later in the fall and stores well, will provide a boost of vitamin C well into winter. Brown expects it will be popular with fans of Empire and Granny Smith.

"I think juicy and refreshing when I eat a RubyFrost," Russell said. "It's a fascinating apple, with a beautiful skin and a nice sugar-acid balance, but to me the crisp juiciness is rewarding every time."

The two varieties have been a decade in the making, and how they've gone to market is a first for the Cornell apple-breeding program and the New York apple industry. Historically, public universities developed new apple breeds and released them to the industry freely. But in 1980, the Bayh-Dole Act gave universities the ability to retain the intellectual property rights for their research, with limited plant-based royalties.

In May 2010, Cornell forged a partnership for a managed release with NYAG, a new industry group, to establish an exclusive licensing agreement in North America for the two apple varieties. Growers pay royalties on trees purchased, acreage planted and fruit produced, and the income is used to market the new varieties and support Cornell's apple-breeding program.

The first trees were planted in farmers' orchards in 2011, and now 400 acres are growing across the state. According to NYAG, the still-young trees will produce a limited crop this year, but intrepid consumers can search out SnapDragon and RubyFrost at select NYAG farm stands across the state. By 2015, the varieties will be vying for space in grocery stores among the Empires, Galas and Honeycrisps.

Greater quality, better storage, and disease and insect resistance have long been the goals of Cornell's apple breeding program. In addition to SnapDragon and RubyFrost, Cornell has released 66 apple varieties since the late 1890s, including the popular Cortland, Macoun, Empire and Jonagold.
Published in Research
Jul. 29, 2013 - Farid Makki, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's senior market advisor for horticulture, pulls no punches – Canada's apple industry's competitiveness lags well behind other apple growing countries.

Makki defines competitiveness as the ability to sell a product, meet the demand for it, while ensuring profits from it. For the Canadian apple industry, it means being able to grow apples consistently and at sufficient profits to finance renewal of orchards and their production systems over time.

Makki says the George Morris Centre recently completed a bench marking study on Canadian apples for the Horticulture Value Chain Roundtable. The study revealed that over the last 10 years, the Canadian apple industry's share of the domestic market and exports of fresh apples declined by more than 50 per cent. Canadian apple production over the last decade also remained "fairly stagnant" at around 400,000 tonnes annually, with a yearly acreage decline of about three per cent.

The Canadian apple industry is challenged by increased foreign competition, high production costs, stagnant consumption and competition from other processed fruits and snacks, says Makki, observing that total Canadian apple production is less than half a per cent of the total world harvest with China as the number one grower. As world apple production increases, China will lead, followed by the United States.

In 2009, Canadian apple growers established a steering committee, chaired by Michael Van Meekeren of Nova Scotia, to present terms of reference to the George Morris Centre for the study. The centre presented the completed paper last October to the committee.

The study found that over the last decade, the Canadian apple industry's share of the domestic market declined from 80 per cent to 65 per cent, with the U.S. nearly doubling its share of the Canadian market by nearly 28 per cent.

The study shows Canada is the seventh largest importer of fresh apples in the world, with 80 per cent of the imports coming from the U.S., while Canada's export of fresh apples declined by 62 per cent in the last 10 years. While competitors significantly increased their exports, the Canadian fresh apple trade deficit tripled in the past decade.

The study also shows the popularity of Canada's older varieties are fading and there is a need to find the next new Honeycrisp or Ambrosia, which will take a lot of time and effort.

Canada's older trees, plus the smaller size of Canadian growers also hinders the domestic apple industry's competitiveness. According to the George Morris report, the Canadian apple industry is below average on fruit size and consistency, the number of varieties, and on internal support for the industry.

"We lag behind Washington State in all the categories that matter, as well as New Zealand and South America," says Makki. "We lag behind every country but China in our ability to innovate."

At the national level, he continues, there is no coordination or organization in the Canadian apple industry. Canadian apple suppliers are not as business-oriented as their leading competitors, Honeycrisp being the exception, and Canadian apples lack a value-added attraction.

Makki says the Canadian apple industry needs to focus on domestic market competition and a national marketing and development body is needed, as well as investment in production and packaging efficiencies. This is also reflected in the George Morris study, which also sees a need to collect and process market information.

The report cites the benefit of a National Promotional and Research Agency for apples, noting the money the Canadian cattle industry collected with a levy on beef cattle sales for market research and development. According to the George Morris Centre, a national apple PRA for apples would do the same thing for research, product development and public education in the apple industry.

It also states that a recent study on the beef checkoff found that for every dollar collected by the levy, $9 was returned to Canadian cattle producers. An apple PRA levy of three cents a bushel would raise almost $1 million.

Makki says there is a need for consensus within the industry to establish an apple PRA. If there's a decision to go ahead, the industry would need to work with the Farm Products Council of Canada on the proposed agency with the council having to be satisfied the majority of Canadian apple growers agree to have it.
Published in Research
July 24, 2013 – Spotted wing drosophila (SWD) raps are located at 68 sites across Ontario. The first trap catch was collected in crops grown in protected culture the week of June 28 - July 4, in Niagara region. As of July 19, SWD has also been trapped in the field in Norfolk, Haldimand, Durham and Niagara region, in wild hosts or in crops such as sweet cherry and raspberry.

Although numbers are still very low, it is important now to protect berry crops and susceptible tender fruit as they are ripening and throughout harvest. A generation of SWD can occur in eight to 10 days and numbers will increase very rapidly. Insecticides should be applied every seven to 10 days depending on the weather and population pressure. In addition, raspberries should be harvested on a very tight schedule and cooled immediately after harvest. READ MORE

Published in Research
July 24, 2013, St. Catharines, Ont – Belinda Kemp has been named the new senior scientist in oenology at Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI).

After an international search, CCOVI recruited Kemp from Plumpton College in the United Kingdom to apply her extensive research and outreach experience to the Canadian grape and wine industry.

“We are very pleased to welcome Belinda to our team,” said CCOVI director Debbie Inglis. “Her knowledge and previous experience will help CCOVI continue to deliver on industry-driven research priorities and transfer that knowledge back to Canadian grape growers and winemakers.”

Kemp holds a PhD in viticulture and oenology from Lincoln University, in Lincoln, New Zealand. Her recent research has focused on the effects of leaf removal on Pinot Noir flavor and aroma, vine spacing on Regner wine, Pinot Noir tannin composition and the effect on flavour, as well as research on sparkling wine.

Kemp says she is excited about the opportunity to start work at CCOVI.

“The ability to carry out research that is important and useful to growers and producers is extremely important to me,” Kemp said. “The high quality reputation that CCOVI has in the viticulture and oenology world for teaching and research was also a big part of my decision to come work in Canada.”

Kemp also noted that the Canadian wine industry is going through exciting times, attracting international attention for a wide range of wine styles. Other wine regions, including the United Kingdom, focus on a limited number of wine styles.

First on her agenda will be meeting with industry stakeholders to identify research priorities. Kemp will work in tandem with Jim Willwerth, CCOVI’s senior scientist in viticulture, providing research and outreach services locally and nationally.

Published in Federal
Jul. 16, 2013 - Consuming cranberry products has been anecdotally associated with prevention of urinary tract infections (UTIs) for over 100 years. But is this popular belief a myth, or scientific fact?

In recent years, some studies have suggested that cranberries prevent UTIs by hindering bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract, thanks to phytochemicals known as proanthocyanidins (PACs). Yet the mechanisms by which cranberry materials may alter bacterial behaviour have not been fully understood.

Researchers in McGill University's Department of Chemical Engineering are shedding light on the biological mechanisms by which cranberries may impart protective properties against urinary tract and other infections. Two new studies, spearheaded by Prof. Nathalie Tufenkji, add to evidence of cranberries' effects on UTI-causing bacteria. The findings also point to the potential for cranberry derivatives to be used to prevent bacterial colonization in medical devices such as catheters.

In research results published online last month in the Canadian Journal of Microbiology, Prof. Tufenkji and members of her laboratory report that cranberry powder can inhibit the ability of Proteus mirabilis, a bacterium frequently implicated in complicated UTIs, to swarm on agar plates and swim within the agar. The experiments also show that increasing concentrations of cranberry powder reduce the bacteria's production of urease, an enzyme that contributes to the virulence of infections.

These results build on previous work by the McGill lab, showing that cranberry materials hinder movement of other bacteria involved in UTIs. A genome-wide analysis of an uropathogenic E. coli revealed that expression of the gene that encodes for the bacteria's flagellar filament was decreased in the presence of cranberry PACs.

The team's findings are significant because bacterial movement is a key mechanism for the spread of infection, as infectious bacteria literally swim to disseminate in the urinary tract and to escape the host immune response.

"While the effects of cranberry in living organisms remain subject to further study, our findings highlight the role that cranberry consumption might play in the prevention of chronic infections," Tufenkji says. "More than 150 million cases of UTI are reported globally each year, and antibiotic treatment remains the standard approach for managing these infections. The current rise of bacterial resistance to antibiotics underscores the importance of developing another approach."

Another recent study led by Tufenkji in collaboration with McGill professor Showan Nazhat, a biomaterials expert at the Department of Mining and Materials Engineering, finds that cranberry-enriched silicone substrates impaired the spread of Proteus mirabilis. Those results, published online in the journal Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces, point to potential use for cranberry derivatives to hinder the spread of germs in implantable medical devices such as catheters, which are frequently implicated in UTIs.

"Based on the demonstrated bioactivity of cranberry, its use in catheters and other medical devices could someday yield considerable benefits to patient health," Tufenkji says.
Published in Research
Jul. 12, 2013 - A recently discovered wild strawberry provides new genetic material for plant research and may lead to a new class of commercial strawberries, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientist. Genes from the newly created strawberries may yield new flavors or disease resistance.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist Kim Hummer, with the National Clonal Germplasm Repository at Corvallis, Ore., found the new species during several plant collection expeditions in the high peaks of Oregon's Cascade Mountains. She named it Fragaria cascadensis.

ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of promoting international food security.

The new strawberry is a perennial plant with white flowers and green leaves, and it differs from other strawberry species of the region by having hairs on the upper side of its leaves, comma-shaped, small brown fruits called "achenes" on the strawberry surface, and 10 sets of chromosomes, unlike the eight sets in commercial strawberries.

The strawberry's distribution in the Oregon Cascades stretches from the Columbia River in the north to the vicinity of Crater Lake in the south, at elevations from about 3,000 feet up to the tree line. The northern distribution range of F. cascadensis has an average annual precipitation of 12 to 15 inches, but the southern range receives only about six inches of precipitation annually.

F. cascadensis is now included in the living collections of the Corvallis germplasm repository, which preserves plant genetic resources of temperate fruit, nut, and other crops.

According to Hummer, the new strawberry's biggest impact could come by crossing it with other strawberries having the same number of chromosomes, such as the cultivated F. vescana or the wild Russian species F. iturpensis. Those crosses could produce hybrids with disease resistance, improved flavor, or other important traits.

Discovery of the new strawberry was reported in the Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas.

Read more about this research in the July 2013 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
Published in Research
Jul. 11, 2013, Calgary, AB - Nova 40W is now registered for the control of powdery mildew on a number of additional crops through a recent label expansion. The added crops include raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, cucumber, pumpkin, watermelon, squash and others.
Nova 40W is a systemic fungicide for the control of various diseases across a wide range of crops. In apples, Nova provides protection against apple scab, powdery mildew and rust. In grapes, Nova provides long-lasting, effective control of powdery mildew and black rot. Additional crops that Nova is registered on include peaches, nectarines, cherries, asparagus, Saskatoon berry, greenhouse tomatoes, peppers, Kentucky bluegrass grown for seed and dozens of ornamentals and flowers.
Nova, a Group 3 fungicide, is gentle on both crops and beneficial insects and is delivered in easy to handle water soluble pouches.
For more information, visit
Published in Diseases
Jul. 9, 2013 - On Thursday July 18, there is an opportunity for anyone interested in commercial vegetable growing and agribuisness to see projects and research conducted by the Ontario Ministery of Agriculture and Food and Ministry of Rural Affairs (OMAF & MRA) and Ridgetown Campus at the University of Guelph.

Highlights will be:
  • New traits for processing tomatoes
  • Managing belly rot and downy mildew in cucumbers
  • Minimizing nitrogen loss after harvest
  • Estimating soil health and quality
  • And more!
There are two different session times - 1:30-4:30 p.m. or 6-9 p.m. There are no costs or pre-registration required.

For more information, including directions, please contact Janice LeBoeuf at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 519-674-1699.
Published in Provinces
Jul. 8, 2013, Kelwna, BC - The British Columbia tree fruit industry is getting a boost from the Government of Canada for research into new apple and sweet cherry varieties. The Honourable Peter Van Loan, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, and Member of Parliament Ron Cannan (Kelowna-Lake Country) announced an investment for the British Columbia Fruit Growers' Association to help producers better meet growing market demands on behalf of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.

Apples and sweet cherries are responsible for more than 80 per cent of the farm gate value of Canadian-grown tree fruits, and this $3.2M project will support the BC Fruit Growers' Association in developing new apple and sweet cherry varieties, as well as improving disease and pest management practices. By introducing new varieties, producers will be able to meet evolving market demands and increase their competiveness and sustainability.

Agriculture Minister Ritz was recently in China where Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada successfully gained new market access for fresh cherry exports from B.C. The B.C. Cherry Industry estimates that by 2014, the sales value of fresh cherries to China will be $10M, and over the next five years will double to $20M.

"We want to thank all of the scientists who are involved in this research, as well as our federal funding partners at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. This investment will help to enhance the benefits of new varieties for the growers," said Jeet Dukhia, President of the BC Fruit Growers' Association.

This support from the AgriInnovation Program under Growing Forward 2, builds on a previous investment of $2.3M under Developing Innovative Agri-Products as part of Growing Forward for research into new tree fruit varieties.

For more information, please visit
Published in Fruit
Photo courtesy of USDA-ARS and Estoban Basoalto.

Jul. 5, 2013 - New lures that entice codling moths with the scent of food and a possible mate are helping tree fruit growers better monitor the orchard pest and control it with carefully timed insecticide applications.

Codling moths, as larvae, are major pests of apples, pears and walnuts. Historically, growers have sprayed their orchards with insecticide to prevent the pinkish-white, 3/4-inch-long larvae from holing up inside the fruit to feed, damaging it and ruining its marketability both in the United States and abroad.

Lures baited with synthetic versions of the adult female moth's chemical sex attractant, or sex pheromone, have helped growers refine their timing of insecticide and reduce the amount applied. As part of research to improve the technology further, a team of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and collaborating scientists has identified and synthesized new compounds to use with the sex pheromone. Among these are pear ester and acetic acid.

Pear ester is the characteristic aroma of ripe pears, and acetic acid is what makes vinegar tangy, notes Alan Knight. He investigated the attractants together with two other scientists with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) — Peter Landolt and Douglas Light — and outside collaborators. Knight and Landolt work at the ARS Yakima Agricultural Research Laboratory in Wapato, Wash. Light is at the ARS Western Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif.

Pear ester alone is a potent attractant for both sexes of codling moth. Adding acetic acid significantly increases the number caught. However, the team found that the most powerful lure resulted from combining pear ester, sex pheromone and acetic acid. The team's studies indicated that the combined lure can capture eight to 10 times more female moths than using the pear ester-pheromone combination alone.

Using lure-based monitoring tools, the researchers also developed action thresholds based on both female and total moth catches that enabled growers to reduce their pesticide applications by 30 to 70 per cent. Orchard-scale trials are under way to find out whether combining the pear ester-pheromone lures with acetic acid can effectively be used to monitor apple leafrollers, which are important secondary pests.

Read more about this research in the July 2013 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
Published in Insects
June 19, 2013, Wooster, OH – In fresh vegetable production, marketable yield is usually more important than total yield. Physiological disorders like blotchy ripening often have negligible effects on total yield but can reduce marketable yield substantially, to the grower’s peril.

When it comes to blotchy ripening in tomato, be familiar with how to recognize it, factors that contribute to its development and steps that can be taken to limit its occurrence.
 Blotchy ripening is characterized by one or more conditions specific to the external and/or internal colour of individual tomato fruit. Idealized versions of individual mature tomato fruit are uniformly red over their entire surface and nearly so throughout their interior flesh. Fruit exhibiting blotchy ripening, however, are not. Instead, defected fruit are mostly red on the outside but marked with areas that remain green, yellow, gray or a much paler red than the remainder of the fruit. Blemished areas may be restricted primarily to the half of the fruit nearest the stem. Internally, the flesh, especially vasculature, of fruit exhibiting blotchy ripening may be brown in colour or broken down.

Symptoms associated with blotchy ripening can have underlying physiological, disease or insect feeding causes. They can also vary in intensity and frequency. Regardless, it is important to note that fruit are said to exhibit blotchy ripening only when they are also in the mid-late stages of ripening as determined by changes in firmness and other variables and when insect (e.g., whitefly) and disease (e.g., TMV) are ruled out as causal agents. These two criteria separate truly blotchy ripened fruit from firm, immature fruit in the early stages of ripening (which can be mottled in colour inside and out) and fruit damaged by the action of pathogens and/or insects.

Blotchy ripening is a physiological disorder. Blotchy ripening has been discussed as a potentially significant marketable yield issue in research and extension publications for at least 76 years. Seaton and Gray of the Michigan Agricultural Research Station reported on their analysis of the anatomy of blotchy-ripened fruit in 1936 ( Also, after touring commercial and research farms throughout the U.S., Minges and Sadik of Cornell University published a protocol for evaluating blotchy ripening in 1964 (

These landmark works provided much needed insight on blotchy ripening but too much about the disorder remains a mystery.

Many agree that blotchy ripening occurs more often in greenhouse- and high tunnel-grown crops but open field plantings can also be affected. What’s behind the disorder? Why do certain fruit ripen unevenly? What can tomato growers do to limit the disorder in their crops?

Immature tomato fruit are green and photosynthetic. In fact, early in their development, tomato fruit can produce a significant portion of the sugars found in them through photosynthesis. Later however, the set of pigments found in fruit of most hybrids shifts and red becomes the dominant colour. This shift is pre-programmed but influenced by conditions surrounding the fruit and within the plant and soil.

The first and one of the most reliable steps in minimizing blotchy ripening is selecting varieties known to display it very infrequently – i.e., among few crops year to year and among few fruit within a season. Hybrid tomato varieties are the culmination of huge, coordinated efforts requiring in-depth knowledge of tomato genes. Nearly 100 years ago, these genes were found to include a natural mutation that led individual fruit to ripen uniformly red, today’s most common standard. Decades of development of varieties whose fruit turn red over their entire surface and throughout their flesh at precisely the right time relative to other variables related to market-readiness have followed. However, the natural condition of NON-uniform reddening remains in the tomato genome and it shows itself most readily in certain varieties. As a category, heirloom varieties may display the blotchy ripening disorder most consistently. Others claim that indeterminate varieties bred for use in climate-controlled greenhouses but chosen by some high tunnel growers can also show the disorder under some conditions; however, to my knowledge, these claims are not supported by independent research.

Regardless, as early steps in avoiding blotchy ripening, consult reliable reports on variety performance in your area and select varieties that exhibit the problem rarely, if at all. An example of a variety trial report that includes data on blotchy ripening is available here (

A variety’s genes may predispose it to physiological disorders like blotchy ripening but this weakness can be minimized or masked with luck and proper management. The causes of physiological disorders can be difficult or take a long time to determine because blotchy ripening and other disorders are difficult to induce experimentally. That said, many years of research and experience have revealed that blotchy ripening is most prevalent when air temperatures during mid-late stages of fruit ripening are extreme (e.g., below 60 F and/or above 90 F) or highly variable, when humidity levels remain high, and/or when these conditions prevail and light levels are low. Unfortunately, these are exactly the types of conditions common on some farms this spring. In general, skies have been intermittently cloudy and sunny, temperatures have risen and fallen sharply over short time periods (often reaching below 60 F in unheated areas), and rain has been abundant, leading to prolonged periods of high humidity, especially in minimally ventilated high tunnels. These conditions, in combination with varieties susceptible to blotchy ripening, are causing some marketable yield losses.

Nothing can be done to change the weather. Going forward, in addition to careful variety selection, growers are encouraged to minimize temperature extremes and fluctuations as much as possible. As conditions allow, high tunnels should be ventilated so that the interior humidity levels are no higher than ambient, outdoor conditions. Field or high tunnel, though, growers are particularly encouraged to examine their soil fertility and moisture management plans carefully since plant nutrient and water status also influence the occurrence of blotchy ripening.

Most in the extension-research community agree that severe cases of blotchy ripening are most often associated with factors that limit the supply of potassium to maturing fruit. These factors include: waterlogged and/or compacted soils, below-optimal potassium application rates, above-optimal nitrogen application rates, excessive application of potassium competitors, excessively large or dense canopies, and the environmental conditions mentioned previously. Potassium supplies may be restricted for different reasons; so, in evaluating and modifying your irrigation and nutrient management plans, do not over-compensate.

Three articles written by Gordon Johnson and Jerry Brust of University of Maryland and University of Delaware Cooperative Extension (located here, here and here) are excellent overviews of the disorder and some peoples’ experiences with it. Also, writing in Practical Hydroponics and Greenhouses, Andrew Lee says that supplying too much water on dark days when transpiration is minimal is “by far the most common error.” Granted, there is a world of difference between greenhouse and high tunnel and field production systems. However, some of the same principles apply in all of them. So, reviewing Dr. Lee’s article is a good idea for many growers.

Some speculate that an excessive fruit load may also raise the probability that blotchy ripening will be a problem in some pickings. Data do not yet support research-based recommendations that fruit load be reduced to lessen the occurrence of blotchy ripening. However, growers are encouraged to stay tuned as study results are released and discussed.
Published in Research
June 18, 2013 – Garlic from two northern Ohio farms have tested positive to a new disease.

Garlic samples from two farms in two northern Ohio counties were recently received at Ohio State University’s Vegetable Pathology lab with symptoms that included long yellow stripes on the leaves and failure of the cloves to develop.

Lab tests indicate at least one virus, a Potyvirus called Leek yellow stripe virus (LYSV), to be the cause of the disease. This virus is transmitted through the cloves and by aphids.

Where this disease is present in a field, cloves should not be saved from any plant, even those without symptoms, for the next year’s crop. Plants may be infected but not yet showing symptoms. Virus-free garlic bulbs should be purchased from a reputable producer.

Published in Research
June 18, 2013 – Research scientists Dr. Ian Scott (AAFC-London) and Cheryl Trueman (U of G-Ridgetown) are collecting striped cucumber beetles in southwestern Ontario to test for resistance to imidacloprid (Admire).

If you have cucumber beetles and would like to participate in the study, please contact one of the researchers listed below. All efforts will be made to collect insects from your location as soon as possible. Cucumber beetles from an organic farm or other site where beetles have not been exposed to imidacloprid are also needed.

For locations in Essex, Kent, and west Elgin, contact Cheryl Trueman, 519-674-1500 x63646 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

For all other locations in southwestern Ontario, contact Ian Scott, 519-457-1470 x281 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .'; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text92852 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

May 27, 2013 – Dr. Rose Buitenhuis and her team at the Vineland Research Innovation Center (VRIC) have been monitoring for spotted wing drosophila (SWD) in the Niagara region all winter, and have not trapped any flies since mid- January.

All Ontario growers should be planning for SWD control in berry crops. When monitoring indicates that flies are active, ripening berry crops will be susceptible to damage. What we don’t know is when SWD will be active. In 2011, populations built up just at the end of harvest, but in 2012, first catch and peak catch were about six weeks earlier and considerable damage occurred.

A project proposal to fund an Ontario-wide regional SWD monitoring program was submitted by the Ontario Berry Growers Association (OBGA) in January 2013 to the Canadian Agri-Science Cluster for Horticulture. We are anxiously waiting for approval for this project but are no longer optimistic that it will be funded. Stay tuned as we try to patch together some sort of monitoring program for Ontario.
Published in Insects
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