Horticultural Crops
August 4, 2017, Boise, ID – Health Canada and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) have completed the food, feed, and environmental safety assessments of the J.R. Simplot Company’s second generation of Innate potatoes.

The authorizations enable the potatoes to be imported, planted, and sold in Canada, complementing the three varieties of Innate first generation potatoes that received regulatory approval last year.

Health Canada conducted a comprehensive safety assessment and approved the use of Innate second generation potatoes for food. In addition, CFIA determined that these potatoes are “as safe and nutritious as traditional potatoes” for use as livestock feed, and that the potatoes do not present increased risk to the environment when compared to currently cultivated potato varieties in Canada.

The second generation of Innate potatoes contains four beneficial traits of relevance to potato growers, processors and consumers:
  • Protection against the late blight pathogen
  • Reduced bruising and black spot
  • Reduced asparagine, which contributes to reduced acrylamide in cooked potatoes
  • Lower reducing sugars, which further contributes to reduced acrylamide while enhancing cold storage capability
These traits were achieved using genes from wild and cultivated potatoes to adapt the standard Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet, and Atlantic potato varieties.

Innate late blight protection trait can convey up to a 50 per cent reduction in annual fungicide applications typically used to control late blight disease. This disease was a contributing cause of the Irish Potato Famine in the mid-19th century and remains a major constraint for production and storage. Further, research shows that Innate second generation potatoes help reduce waste associated with bruise, blight, and storage losses by reducing waste at multiple stages of the value chain, including in-field, during storage and processing, and in food service. That research suggests that these traits will translate to less land, water, and pesticide applications to produce these potatoes.

Lower asparagine and reducing sugars mean that accumulation levels of acrylamide can be reduced by up to 90 per cent more when these potatoes are cooked at high temperatures. In addition, lower reducing sugars enable cold storage at 3.3 Celsius for more than six months without significant degradation in quality.

According to academic estimates, if all fresh potatoes in Canada had Innate Generation 2 traits, potato waste (in-field, during storage, packing, retail and foodservice for fresh potatoes) could be reduced by 93 million kilograms. In addition, CO2 emissions could be reduced by 14 million kilograms, water usage reduced by 13 billion liters, and a total of 154,000 fewer pesticide hectare-applications would be needed.

“This is a big technology advancement for the Canadian potato industry,” said Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada. “As long as proper stewardship guidelines are followed, Innate biotechnology provides growers a promising option to significantly reduce waste, chemicals, and pesticides.”

“We’re excited to offer the latest generation of Innate potatoes to the Canadian marketplace,” said Susan Collinge, Ph.D., vice president of Simplot Plant Sciences, a division of the J.R. Simplot Company. “Innate second generation potatoes offer important benefits while staying within the potato genome to create a quality crop.”
Published in Federal
August 11, 2017, Langley, BC – There are more than 24,000 people employed in British Columbia’s agriculture industry and sun and heat exposure are workplace hazards for many of them.

Agriculture workers have a 2.5 to 3.5 times greater risk of developing skin cancer than indoor workers, according to a Sun Safety At Work Canada 2016 report. Employers are responsible for addressing this risk.

AgSafe, BC’s agriculture health and safety association, suggests the best way to reduce the risk of sun and heat exposure in the workplace is to implement a sun and heat safety action plan for outside workers.

“There are resources available for those who employ outdoor workers to help them develop and implement a sun and heat safety plan,” says Wendy Bennett, executive director of AgSafe. “The key is controlling the worker’s exposure to sun and the possibility of heat stress.”

Checking Environment Canada’s UV index regularly to monitor worker risk and providing a shade structure, where practical or enabling shade breaks on the worksite will help reduce the effects of sun exposure.

Scheduling heavy work outside of the hottest times of the day – before 11 a.m. and after 3 p.m. – when UV levels are lower, along with regular “cool-down” rest periods, will help reduce the risk of heat stress.

Knowing the signs of heat stress – decrease in alertness, extreme fatigue, nausea, dizziness, confusion, muscle cramps, and fast shallow breathing, is very important and should be acted upon immediately if they present.

Bennett adds that the risk of heat stress is higher when employees are working outdoors with equipment that gives off heat.

Tips to avoid sun exposure and heat stress:
  • Wear loose-fitting tightly woven or UV-protective labelled clothing; wide brimmed hats that shade the face, ears and neck; apply sunscreen throughout the day
  • Wear sunglasses to protect eyes from UV rays
  • Hydrate regularly with water
  • Take breaks in the shade
Additional sun and heat safety information is available by visiting www.SunSafetyAtWork.ca or www.Weather.gc.ca.
Published in Vegetables
August 10, 2017, Leamington, Ont – Joe Sbrocchi will assume the general manager role at the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG), effective Sept 18th, 2017.

Sbrocchi has been active in a number of roles in the greenhouse sector for the last eight years. Previously, he has held management roles with national retailers like Sobeys and Walmart providing a solid body of work throughout the entire value chain.

“We are pleased to have a quality leader join the OGVG at a point where his experience, skills and leadership can significantly support our sector”, said George Gilvesy, OGVG chair.

“I believe my lifetime in produce and in particular the past eight years in the greenhouse sector have prepared me well for this role,” said Sbrocchi. “I am looking forward to representing Ontario greenhouse growers to the very best of my abilities.”
Published in Associations
August 10, 2017, Morgan Hill, CA – Next week, Sakata Seed America will host its annual California Field Days in Salinas [August 14-16] and Woodland [August 16-18], Calif.

This will be the 31st year Sakata has hosted the event, which continues to grow every year.

“We began hosting these trials in the small field in Salinas back in 1986,” said John Nelson, sales and marketing director with the company. “Since, it’s continues to expand with our growing infrastructure and has become our largest vegetable event of the year, showcasing the best of Sakata’s genetics and serving host to our customers, media, retail and more. We look forward to celebrating 40 years of business in NAFTA at this year’s trials.”

Those attending Sakata’s field days this year will see a few new modifications. Most notably, it will be the inaugural year Sakata will host its Woodland (warm-season crops – melon, onion, pepper, tomato, pumpkin, squash, watermelon) trials at the new Woodland Research Station; an investment in land, greenhouses, offices and other facilities slated for completion of the first phases in 2018. To learn more about Sakata’s Woodland development, check out the 40th Anniversary video.

In Salinas (cool-season crops – broccoli, beet, spinach, etc.) trials, customers will be greeted with an updated Broccoli Master. This information-rich piece of literature serves as the ultimate reference guide for all things Sakata broccoli, including ideal varieties for every growing region and other important information for successful broccoli cultivation.

“This will be the third generation of our Broccoli Master, and it has always been well-used by our dealers and growers alike,” said Matt Linder, senior broccoli product manager and Salinas Valley area sales manager. “It contains all the great information you need on our varieties right at your fingertips, and is heavy-duty enough to be kept in your truck or pocket when in the field. It’s been a few years since we’ve had an updated version, so we’re excited to include some great new additions we’ve recently added to our broccoli line, such as Millennium, Diamante, Eastern Magic, Eastern Crown and Emerald Star.”

For a digital copy, visit Sakata’s website; physical copies will be debuted at next week’s trials, and available for direct mail thereafter.
Published in Research
August 9, 2017, Edmonton, Alta – The Agri-tourism and Farm Direct Marketing Bus Tour takes place September 11, 2017, in the Spruce Grove/West Yellowhead region.

“The tour will feature family-run businesses doing innovative things on smaller farms in rural Alberta,” says Colin Gosselin, with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry based in Stony Plain. “It will also feature a delicious local food lunch, an artisan winery tour, an experienced agri-tourism coach, and opportunities for networking, sharing, and discussion.”

Stops are at Happy Acres U-Pick, Shady Lane Estate and Leaman Exchange.

Cost for the tour is $25 per person, and includes tour transportation, lunch and refreshments. The bus pick-up and drop-off point will be in the Spruce Grove area. An alternate drop-off point in the Wildwood area is possible.

To register, call 1-800-387-603 by September 6. For more information, contact Colin Gosselin at 780-968-3518.
Published in Marketing
August 8, 2017, Wallaceburg, Ont – In the midst of uncertainty about the structure of their organization, Ontario processing vegetable growers recently received a strong show of support from all three general farm organizations in Ontario.

Ontario’s three provincial farm organizations came together to pen a joint letter to the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission in support of the issues raised by the Processing Vegetable Growers’ Alliance.

“The Alliance represents farmers who grow 14 different types of processing vegetables in the province who are concerned about proposed changes to Regulation 441 that would dramatically reduce grassroots representation for our sector,” said Francis Dobbelaar, chair of the Processing Vegetable Growers’ Alliance. “We are truly grateful for the tremendous support shown to our group by these three leading organizations.”

Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, the National Farmers Union – Ontario, and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture represent the majority of Ontario farmers, including the approximately 400 processing vegetable growers. In their letter to the commission, which discussed proposed changes to Regulation 441/400, the groups call on the commission to consult directly with processing vegetable growers regarding any proposed governance changes that would impact the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers  organization.

“The goal of the Alliance is to restore a fully grower elected OPVG board with the authority to negotiate prices, terms, conditions and contracts for Ontario’s processing vegetable growers,” said Dobbelaar. “We are anxious to get on with the innovative plans we had in the works before the commission dismissed the OPVG board and senior staff – including establishing industry advisory and market development committees. We welcome innovation and change that will help strengthen and sustain our industry with profitability for both growers and processors.”
Published in Associations
August 4, 2017, Ottawa, Ont – The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) recently held an AgriWorkforce Roundtable to discuss challenges and possible solutions to address the critical agricultural labour shortage in Canada.

Participants included primary producers, processors, retailers, policy makers and academics – all putting their heads together to come up with new solutions to what is becoming a persistent problem; how do you attract and retain farm workers?

Marc Smith, retired assistant director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY, and senior Extension associate, opened the discussion with an international perspective on shared agricultural labour challenges among the United States and Canada.

Smith started off by identifying several trends in the U.S. agricultural labour climate:
  • Regardless of government policy, people seeking employment in agriculture will be scarce.
  • Economic and other motivations to develop and adopt labour-saving technologies are growing.
  • Political and economic pressures will force minimal wages higher in many states.
  • Perception of agriculture as an unattractive field for careers is a perennial challenge.
The consequences of these U.S. agricultural labour trends has resulted in a 20 per cent decline in available agricultural workers between 2002-14; an annual loss of $3.1B [US] to fruit and vegetable production due to labour shortages; and a declining U.S.-born population willing to work on farms.

In Canada, the gap between labour demand and the domestic workforce in agriculture has doubled from 30,000 to 59,000 in the past 10 years and projections indicate that by 2025, the Canadian agri-workforce could be short workers for 114,000 jobs. This was a key finding of Labour Market Information (LMI) research by CAHRC entitled Agriculture 2025: How the Sector’s Labour Challenges Will Shape its Future. The LMI research also revealed that Canadian primary agriculture had the highest industry job vacancy rate at seven per cent – higher than any other industry in Canada. This resulted in $1.5-billion in lost sales.

Poor worker compensation is often cited as the primary reason for low interest in working on farms. However, Smith notes that agricultural wages in the U.S. have gone up faster than any other sector in the past 10 years with the median wage being $13.23/hr ($17.76 CDN) as of April 2017. In Canada, farm hourly rates averaged $17.50/hr in 2016.

Smith advocates that wages alone are not the issue but rather what is needed is a coordinated effort to improve labour policy, on-farm workforce needs, and farm practices.

Smith suggests that farmers need to develop realistic policies that attract and retain workers. Investment in leadership and management capacity within the agricultural industry is also needed to encourage innovation, research and development for long-term solutions to the already critical agricultural workforce.

It is not enough to simply pay required wages and comply with regulations. Employee compensation should also include how workers are treated and have their needs accommodated such as providing housing, access to the internet, transportation, communications in their own language, offering English as a second language training, job training, flexible hours, and creating a sense of community. It is important to make workers feel welcomed, valued and confident.

Finally, modifying farm practices to reduce the need for labour is another way to reduce on-farm workforce pressures. This may include adopting new technology that negates the need for human workers, changing crop mixes to less labour intensive commodities, or moving production operations to streamline efficiency.

To help attract and retain a motivated workforce, CAHRC has developed several tools to help farm managers including: AgriSkills – customizable and commodity specific on-farm training programs; Agri HR Toolkit – an online resource guide and templates to address the HR needs of any business; and Agri Pathways – promoting careers in agriculture. For more information on these and other CAHRC offerings visit www.cahrc-ccrha.ca.

In the meantime, Smith says producers should champion farmers that are doing a great job with their workers and get the word out that agriculture is a rewarding and fulfilling career with a strong future.
Published in Federal
July 27, 2017, Vineland, Ont – It’s been 10 years since a new horticultural research facility in Niagara Region was launched as the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland).

Since then, Vineland has been turning heads across Canada and internationally with its needs-based innovations. The organization reflects the entire horticulture value chain from farmers to consumers, and they’re not afraid to take big steps to help the industry solve problems.

“We started by understanding what needed to be done and how we needed to work to make a difference, which is real results with real impact from acres in the field to shelf space in the store,” says Vineland’s CEO, Dr. Jim Brandle.

Addressing the labour intensive nature of horticultural production was a need identified early on. Today, machines designed in Vineland’s robotics program and built in Ontario are coming into use in fruit and vegetable greenhouses, which Brandle says will go a long way in helping to keep growers competitive, as well as boost the local manufacturing and automation sector.
Sweet potatoes, okra and Asian eggplant are offering new market opportunities for growers and consumers eager to eat more locally produced food.

And Vineland’s rose breeding program made a big splash earlier this year when its Canadian Shield rose – a trademarked low-maintenance and winter hardy variety bred in Canada – was named Flower of the Year at Canada Blooms.

Another significant milestone was the construction of the largest, most modern horticultural research greenhouse in North America with commercial-scale height and growing rooms dedicated to horticulture, which opened in 2016 and was built around the needs of Canada’s greenhouse vegetable and flower growers.“Today, we’re commercializing innovations, from the Canadian Shield rose to new apple and pear varieties,” Brandle says. “We are having the kind of impact that we sought in those early days.”

Natural ways to control greenhouse pests – called biocontrols – are making a real difference to flower growers and a new technology that can identify genetic variants for traits in all plants has just been spun-off into a for-profit company.

“We’re creating a reputation and that alone is an achievement because we’re the new kid on the block,” he says. “We have a ton of good people with and around the organization and on our board who are making this happen.”Vineland is an important partner to the horticulture industry, according to Jan VanderHout, a greenhouse vegetable grower and Chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association.

“They are very good at asking us what we want and taking a whole value chain approach to research and innovation,” VanderHout says. “You need the right facilities and expertise and Vineland fills that need to the benefit of the industry as a whole.”

Looking to the future, both Brandle and VanderHout predict that cap and trade pressure and high energy costs will result in more work around energy use and carbon footprint reduction.And Vineland’s consumer-focused approaches will continue to drive new innovation, from high flavour greenhouse tomatoes to Ontario-grown apple varieties.

“We will further lever consumer-driven plant breeding and work with the intent around pleasing consumers and trying to understand what they want so we can build that into our selection criteria,” Brandle says.
Published in Profiles
July 14, 2017, Gainesville, FL – Some people love to eat a juicy, seedless watermelon for a tasty, refreshing snack during a hot summer day. University of Florida scientists have found a way to stave off potential diseases while retaining that flavour.

Consumers increasingly savour the convenience and taste of seedless watermelons, said Xin Zhao, a UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences associate professor of horticultural sciences and lead author of a new study examining rootstocks, flavour and texture of watermelons.

Many growers produce seedless cultivars because that’s what consumers want, and it’s important to maintain the fruit’s yield and taste, as seedless cultivars might be more susceptible to fusarium wilt, a major soil-borne disease issue in watermelon production, Zhao said.

For the study, UF/IFAS researchers grafted seedless watermelon onto squash rootstocks to ward off soil-borne diseases, such as fusarium wilt. In plant grafting, scientists call the upper part of the plant the scion, while the lower part is the rootstock. In the case of vegetable grafting, a grafted plant comes from joining a vigorous rootstock plant – often with resistance or tolerance to certain soil-borne pathogens – with a scion plant with desirable aboveground traits.

Grafting is a useful tool to manage soil-borne diseases, but in this study, researchers were concerned that if they grafted watermelon onto squash rootstocks, they might reduce its fruit quality and taste. Overall, study results showed no loss in taste and major fruit quality attributes, like total soluble solids and lycopene content, Zhao said. Consumers in UF taste panels confirmed the flavour remained largely consistent between grafted and non-grafted plant treatments under different production conditions.

Furthermore, said Zhao, compared with the non-grafted seedless watermelons, plants grafted onto the squash rootstocks exhibited a consistently higher level of flesh firmness.

“We are continuing our grafted watermelon research to optimize management of grafted watermelon production, maximize its full potential and seek answers to economic feasibility,” she said.

Still to come is a paper that specifically tells researchers whether they warded off fusarium wilt under high disease pressure, Zhao said. Grafting with selected rootstocks as a cultural practice is viewed as an integrated disease management tool in the toolbox for watermelon growers to consider when dealing with fusarium wilt “hot spots” in the field, she said. However, most squash rootstocks are generally more susceptible to root-knot nematodes, a potential challenge with using grafted plants. Other UF/IFAS researchers are tackling that issue.

The new UF/IFAS study is published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.
Published in Research
July 14, 2017, Durham, NH – Researchers with the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of New Hampshire have succeeded in quadrupling the length of the strawberry growing season as part of a multi-year research project that aims to benefit both growers and consumers.

Strawberry season in the Northeast U.S. traditionally lasts only four to six weeks. However, researchers working on the multi-state TunnelBerries project were picking day-neutral strawberries in Durham last November. Last year, researchers harvested strawberries grown in low tunnels for 19 consecutive weeks from mid-July through the week of U.S. Thanksgiving. They also found that the low tunnels significantly increased the percentage of marketable fruit, from an average of about 70 per cent to 83 per cent.

Now in its second year, the TunnelBerries research project is being conducted at the UNH Woodman Horticultural Research Farm. It is part of a larger, multi-state U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded initiative to optimize protected growing environments for berry crops in the upper Midwest and northeastern United States. UNH’s component is focused on improving berry quality and the role day-neutral varieties may play in extending the length of strawberry season in the Northeast.

“[Strawberries] are a very valuable early season crop for farmers,” said graduate student Kaitlyn Orde, who is working with experiment station researcher Becky Sideman on the project. “Unfortunately, though, this season is very brief, limiting the period in which … producers are able to meet consumer demand for the fresh fruit. A longer strawberry season is good for both grower and consumer.”

The UNH project consists of two parts. Researchers want to determine the yield and fruiting duration of day-neutral strawberry varieties. Day-neutrals are a different plant-type than the traditional June-bearers; day-neutrals (or ever-bearing) have been shown to fruit continuously for four to six months in the region. In addition, day-neutrals fruit the same year they are planted, which is not the case with June-bearers.

“We are growing one day-neutral variety on three different mulches to determine if there are any differences in total production, production patterns, runner production, and fruit characteristics among the mulches,” Orde said. “We also are investigating the role plastic covered low-tunnels play in improving berry quality, and what the microenvironment is within low tunnels, especially late season. To do this, we are evaluating five different plastics for the low tunnels.”

Researchers in Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, and New York have conducted preliminary research on similar systems. There also are limited growers in the Northeast who already cultivate day-neutral varieties, and even fewer who have experimented with low-tunnels in combination with the strawberry crop.

For more information, visit www.tunnelberries.org.
Published in Research
June 19, 2017, Fredericton, NB – The development of the wild blueberry sector has been identified as a significant growth opportunity in New Brunswick’s economic development plan.

“The time is ripe to realize the full potential of this sector,” said Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet. “Your government is committed to working with industry stakeholders to make the most of this exciting opportunity.”

Wild blueberry production has more than tripled over the past decade. The expansion of the sector was identified as a key opportunity for development in the New Brunswick Economic Growth Plan, the government’s framework for growing the economy and creating jobs for New Brunswickers.

“With the optimal climate, geography and land availability for wild blueberry development, the sector has huge potential for growth,” said Doucet.

Six components have been identified as necessary to help the industry prosper in New Brunswick:
  • Diversification of markets to find new global buyers.
  • Identification of value-added opportunities.
  • Increased production to meet future value-added demands.
  • Increased storage capacity to stabilize inventory.
  • Expanded consumption within the province via the Local Food and Beverage Strategy.
  • Opportunities for capital investment from the private sector.
There are 39,000 acres, both private and Crown land, currently under production in multiple locations and at various stages across the province, from the Acadian Peninsula to Charlotte County. The wild blueberry industry currently supports an estimated 440 jobs.

The government recognizes that First Nations communities have an interest in becoming more involved in the industry, and is working with those communities to ensure that they have opportunities to participate.

More than 300 farm families are involved in the province’s wild blueberry industry. New Brunswick accounts for 25 per cent of Canada’s overall production.
Published in Provinces
June 19 2017, Guelph, Ont – The diverse range of projects the Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC) funds was the focus of the organization’s summer reception and dinner held June 14 in Mississauga.

To date, Ontario organizations and collaborations have completed 195 projects through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), and funding for 385 projects totaling $33.3 million has been approved by the AAC board over the past four years.

The program was launched in 2013 and demand remained strong until the final application deadline this past April. GF2 officially ends March 31, 2018.

“The AAC is a strategic enabler. Projects funded have played a significant role in raising the standard and profile of Ontario's agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector,” said Kelly Duffy, AAC chair, in her remarks to the audience. “I know that if we continue to invest in the sector, we will produce long-lasting benefits that will impact future generations.”

Ontario Agri-Food Technologies is currently leading a project on open agri-food data collaboration, Ontario Precision Agri-Food (OPAF).

It’s assessing where Ontario and Canada are with precision agriculture and what needs to be done to manage and enable data for future global market access and sustainability. OPAF is collaborating with an initiative called FIWare Mundus that is creating a global Future Internet (FI) ecosystem to enable easy, fast data sharing.

“We’re on the cusp of an evolution; data is at its centre and it’s the new commodity in agriculture,” said OAFT president Tyler Whale. “OPAF is a facilitator that creates trusted relationships amongst value chain partners to integrate new and existing data resources.”

The Ontario Produce Marketing Association is tackling the issue of food waste through a GF2 funded project, and according to lead researcher Martin Gooch of Value Chain Management International, there is a compelling business case for addressing the problem.

“People outside of the industry are often staggered by the amount of waste in food. This is the first project of its kind in North America,” said Gooch.

The OPMA program includes a series of workshops and a handbook with 10 easy to follow steps for identifying where waste happens in farm, processing or retail processes. According to Gooch, a soon-to-be-released case study clearly shows the opportunity of addressing food waste: a 29 per cent increase in grade-out of potatoes resulted in a 74 per cent increase in producer margin.

“A big thank you to AAC for providing the funding; it’s great working with an organization that encompasses the entire chain,” Gooch added.

Harry Pelissero of Egg Farmers of Ontario spoke briefly about one of EFO’s latest projects involving gender detection in unhatched eggs.

The non-invasive scanning technology developed at McGill University can identify the gender of day-old eggs before they are incubated. This means female eggs can be incubated for hatching and infertile or male eggs can enter the table or processing egg streams, eliminating the need to hatch male eggs.

AAC gave us the support to take this from the lab to pre-prototype and then prototype stage,” explained Pelissero. “The investment that AAC has put into this provides an economical solution to a challenge in the industry; this is an outcome that will literally go around the world.”

Duffy also used the opportunity to highlight overall GF2 program successes. Funding through this federal-provincial-territorial initiative has resulted in innovative research results, increased knowledge and awareness, access to new markets, and supported the overall competitiveness of the sector.
Published in Associations
June 19, 2017, Agassiz, BC – Dr. Rishi Burlakoti has joined the Agassiz Research and Development Centre (ARDC), bringing with him more than 10 years of experience in plant pathology. His research will address the new and existing diseases of high value horticultural crops, focusing mainly on small fruits and vegetable crops.

Prior to joining the ARDC team, Dr. Burlakoti led the mycology and bacteriology units at the World Vegetable Centre in Taiwan. He focused on global fungal and bacterial diseases of solanaceous vegetables (e.g. tomato, pepper, eggplant). From 2010 to 2016, he worked as a plant pathologist and research lead at Weather Innovations Consulting LP, an agricultural consulting company based in Ontario, where he led several applied research projects and provided consulting services to sector organizations and agri-food businesses in Canada, the United States, and Europe. Dr. Burlakoti also worked as a Postdoctoral scientist in the Wild Blueberry Research Program at Dalhousie University in 2009, and in the Barley Pathology Program at North Dakota State University in 2008.

Dr. Burlakoti is serving as an editor for two international journals: Plants and Archives of Phytopathology and Plant Protection. He is also a member of the Canadian Phytopathological Society, the American Phytopathological Society, and the Canadian Society for Horticultural Science. He is an adjunct faculty at Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph.

Dr. Burlakoti will be at the ARDC’s open house on July 22. Drop by to meet him and the rest of the centre’s staff as we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. Alternatively, you can reach him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 604-796-6011.
Published in Research
June 16, 2017, Saint John, NB – A honey bee pest, the small hive beetle, Aethina tumida, has been reported in New Brunswick for the first time.

It has been found in honey bee colonies imported from Ontario in wild blueberry fields at the following locations:
  • Alnwick (near Brantville)
  • Pont-Lafrance in Gloucester County
  • two locations near Saint-Sauveur (Lord and Foy area)
  • Saint-Isidore
All imported colonies and NB colonies in blueberry fields from the areas indicated above are in quarantine until further notice. They are not permitted to be moved within blueberry fields or between blueberry fields.

In order to locate NB bee colonies in these areas, DAAF would like NB blueberry growers with fields in these areas to contact department staff and indicate where the NB colonies are located and who they belong to.
Published in Insects
June 8, 2017, Halifax, NS – Atlantic Canada wine is the focus for more than 200 industry experts attending the Atlantic Canada Wine Symposium (ACWS) at the Westin Nova Scotian Hotel from June 11 to 13, 2017. The three-day symposium will provide an educational opportunity for existing and interested industry professionals to learn more about current topics specific to the wine industry on the East Coast.

“We are Canada’s emerging wine region here on the East Coast, and we have come a long way since the last symposium was held back in 2012,” says Gillian Mainguy, executive director of the Winery Association of Nova Scotia. “The number of Atlantic Canada wineries has increased by 50 per cent in five short years, which is a testament to the potential for growing grapes in our region.”

This year’s ACWS welcomes more than 40 high-profile speakers from around the world. London-based wine writer, lecturer, wine judge and author Jamie Goode will present the keynote address on June 12. Goode has a PhD in plant biology and has worked as a science editor. Goode also started the popular wine website, wineanorak.com. His address will provide advice on marketing Atlantic Canada as an emerging wine region.

Other prominent speakers include Stephen Skelton, Master of Wine; Johannes Kruetten, Clemens Technologies; Paul Wagner, Balzac Communications & Marketing, San Francisco, CA., as well as Alice Feiring, writer and controversial figure in the natural wine movement.

"With the expansion of acreage in full swing here in Nova Scotia and the surrounding area, it's a timely thing this meeting of the mind … to help ensure that this emerging wine region is in pursuit of the cutting edge that will truly put us on the global wine map,” says Scott Savoy, symposium panel speaker and vineyard manager of Benjamin Bridge.

The 2017 symposium includes workshops, winery tours, wine tastings and a supplier marketplace showcasing innovative exhibitor products and services. With a diverse audience of delegates attending, the symposium is an opportunity for winemakers, vineyard managers, grape growers, winery owners, journalists, sommeliers, and educators to learn more about the Atlantic Canada wine industry.

For more information about registration as well as a complete list of events and visiting speakers for the ACWS, please visit atlanticwinesymposium.ca.
Published in Fruit
June 6, 2017, Charlottetown, PEI – As potato growers across P.E.I. plant this year's crop, many are using the latest GPS technology to guide them.

"I'd say probably 80 per cent of growers out there would have something like this," said Will MacNeill, owner of Atlantic Precision Agri-Services, in West Devon, P.E.I. READ MORE
Published in Planting
June 6, 2017, Kingston Ont – Farming is a complex business, and keeping track of everything can sometimes be troublesome, if not a bit overwhelming.

With this in mind, Kingston-based software company Dragonfly IT developed Croptracker – a multi-faceted, cloud-based monitoring system designed to give fruit and vegetable growers real-time updates on their businesses.

Croptracker offers an easy-to-use software package that monitors growing practices throughout the season,” said Matthew Deir, company founder. “Growers sign up for our system and can access all of their daily inputs from one central hub. It helps both traceability and cost saving.”

Croptracker highlights three key areas relevant to growers’ economic, environmental, and social sustainability, with food traceability taking the top spot, followed by operational costs and yield analysis.

The software itself is a consolidation of similar systems previously developed by Deir’s company, including Fruit Tracker, Apple Tracker, and Nursery Tracker. By combining these and several other systems, he says, Dragonfly IT has tried to make the software useful for all growers of all kinds.

He also emphasized that Croptracker is “literally grower-built,” being the result of “thousands of hours meeting with growers and learning what their needs were.”

The Croptracker cloud system allows growers to map how their crop is produced – what time it was planted, what inputs went into it, and so on – as well as where it came from. According to Deir, the software can literally trace each basket of product back to the field from which it was harvested, and potentially, even the person who harvested it.

Croptracker can also be used as a human resources interface, helping keep track of employee time and activity. There’s even a “punch clock” feature that can show growers who is doing what, for how long, and when. By being able to see how long it takes to perform different tasks, Deir said farmers can pinpoint where their costs are coming from, and if necessary, investigate why.

At the end of the growing season, the Croptracker system can also help monitor how good – or bad – the harvest was at different times and from different parts of the farm. Giving an opportunity for contrast and comparison, Deir said, means growers can further distil the potential sources of any yield discrepancy they might encounter.

Approximately 1,000 farmers currently have access to the software for free (their producer associations buy the rights on their behalf), but individual growers can still access Croptracker on a pay-per-package basis.

And it’s not just Ontario farmers who can use the service either; growers producing more exotic fruits in places far afield have also shown interest – most recently, for example, a New Zealand avocado grower.

“I never thought about [the software] working for that kind of crop, but the farmer definitely thought otherwise,” Deir said.
Published in Harvesting
May 11, 2017, Simcoe, Ont – Aside from some sleepless nights for those in charge, frost in Norfolk hasn't greatly affected this year's berry crop.

Paula Zelem of Kent Kreek Berries, located west of Simcoe on Highway 3, said Tuesday that a warm lead-in to spring has worked to combat recent frost and keep crops relatively close to on schedule.

Mercury dropping both Sunday and Monday nights had the farm's temperature alarms ringing and their crew up at all hours to irrigate the combined 23 acres of planted berries. READ MORE
Published in Fruit
May 11, 2017, Sonoma, CA – In 2014, Sonoma wine growers committed to being the first 100 per cent sustainable wine region in the U.S. They are recycling their pomace – white wine grapes get turned into compost, and red wine waste turns out to be a great fertilizer and helps keep weeds down.

But wineries can only use so much. Each year, California wineries produce more than 100,000 tons of pomace. Now, that waste is being turned into everything from cooking oil to cosmetics.

Chris Simmons is a biological systems engineer and assistant professor at University of California, Davis. His lab is studying how food-processing waste products might be used, other than as compost in the vineyards. READ MORE
Published in Research
May 8, 2017, Kelowna, BC – BC Tree Fruits recently announced the company has submitted an application to expand its Winfield packinghouse to allow space for a new apple bagging line.

Once approved, the new line would be ready for operation prior to the 2017 apple crop starting this fall and would expand BC Tree Fruits’ capacity by 30 per cent. READ MORE
Published in Companies
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