Horticultural Crops
Collaboration between Canadian governments, industry, academia and other partners in plant health is essential to protect our resources from new and emerging risks, drive innovation and ensure that Canadian industry remains competitive and sustainable.
Published in Federal
Protecting fruit crops from birds and other predators has never been easy. Scarecrows, reflective tape, netting, shotguns, propane-powered bangers and other audible bird scare devices, as well as traps and falcons, number among the most popular tools at growers’ disposal.
Published in Research
Canadians clearly love having fresh local strawberries several times a year and Canada’s day-neutral strawberry industry is growing to meet the demand.
Published in Fruit
Geneva, NY – The newest offering from Cornell University’s grape breeders is a fruit that’s big, bold and comes with a towering history.

Those factors led the grape’s breeders to name the new variety Everest Seedless, a nod to the celebrated Nepalese mountain, said Bruce Reisch, professor of horticulture in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and grape breeder with Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, NY.

“We were looking to develop very flavorful grapes with large berries and large clusters, and we’ve achieved that with Everest Seedless,” Reisch said.

The new variety is a cold-tolerant, blue-coloured Concord-type, with berries that weigh up to 7 grams – roughly twice the size of the traditional Concord. It is also the first truly seedless Concord-type grape ever released. It’s intended as a table grape – meant primarily for eating fresh, rather than using for jams, juice or wine, as most American Concords are used.

“Everest is one of the largest mountains in the world, and this is one very large grape,” Reisch said. “With its formidable ancestry and big flavour, we feel this variety can live up to its name.”

The grape is tolerant of midwinter temperatures as low as 10 to 15 below zero Fahrenheit, making it suitable for most of the grape-growing regions in New York. It’s moderately resistant to downy mildew and powdery mildew, the most troublesome grape diseases in the Northeast.

Insects don’t seem to bother these grapes, according to Reisch, who said the variety has thrived in research vineyards where insecticides are not applied, but insects could be a problem at other locations.

Because the grapes are relatively easy to grow and produce large, flavourful, seedless berries, Reisch predicts they will become popular with home gardeners as well as professional growers.

Everest Seedless is being exclusively licensed in the U.S. to Double A Vineyards of Fredonia, NY, for 10 years, and vines can be purchased from them starting this fall.
Published in Fruit
Iowa State University researchers are conducting experiments to determine what advantages may arise from integrating chickens into vegetable production systems. The researchers must balance a range of concerns, including environmental sustainability, costs and food and animal safety. But Ajay Nair, an associate professor of horticulture and a vegetable production specialist for ISU Extension and Outreach, said finding ways to integrate vegetable and animal production may lead to greater efficiency and healthier soils.

The experiments, currently in their second year, take place at the ISU Horticulture Research Station just north of Ames. The researchers are testing what happens when a flock of broiler chickens lives on a vegetable field for part of the year.

The chickens forage on the plant matter left behind after the vegetables are harvested and fertilize the soil with manure. This integrated approach could reduce off-farm inputs and also provide producers with sustainable crop rotation options.

The researchers are testing three different systems on a half acre of land at the research farm. The first system involves a vegetable crop – one of several varieties of lettuce or broccoli – early in the growing season, followed by the chickens, which are then followed by a cover crop later in the year.

The second system involves the vegetable crop, followed by two months of a cover crop, with the chickens foraging on the land later in the year. The third system is vegetables followed by cover crops, with no chickens.

The experiment involves roughly 40 chickens, which live in four mobile coops that the researchers move every day. Moving the coops around ensures the chickens have access to fresh forage and keeps their manure from concentrating any particular part of the field. An electric fence surrounds the field to keep out predators.

Moriah Bilenky, a graduate assistant in horticulture, checks on the chickens every morning to make sure they have food and water. She also weighs them periodically to collect data on how efficiently they convert food into body mass. The researchers designed the trial to uphold animal health, and Bilenky said she keeps a detailed log on how foraging in the fields impacts the birds’ health and performance.

Nair said the researchers are looking at several facets associated with sustainability. Nitrogen and phosphorous deposited in the soil from the chicken manure could alleviate some of the need for fertilizer application, while working cover crops into the system can prevent the loss of nutrients into waterways. Economics must also factor into the research, he said.

“We might come up with results that really help the soil, but if the system is not economically stable, I doubt growers will be willing to adopt it because it has to work for their bottom line as well,” he said.

The trials also adhere to food safety regulations. For instance, all vegetables are harvested before the chickens are introduced to the fields, ensuring none of the produce is contaminated. The researchers consulted food safety and animal science experts at Iowa State while designing their experiments, and the work undergoes regular IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee) inspection and documentation, he said.

The trials remain ongoing, so the researchers aren’t drawing any conclusions yet about the success of their integrated system. The project is currently supported through a SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) grant. Nair said he’s seeking additional funding to investigate the animal health and integrated pest management aspects of this research.

So why did the chicken cross the road? It’s too early to tell, but maybe so it could get into the lettuce and pepper fields.
Published in Research
Fresno, CA – Jain Irrigation, Inc. recently announced it is acquiring ETwater, a supplier of intelligent irrigation technology and smart irrigation controllers.

ETwater’s patented technology integrates data science, machine learning and predictive analytics about weather forecast and environmental variables to automatically, optimally adjust site-specific irrigation schedules. Connecting over the Internet, ETwater smart controllers get their schedules through secure, cellular data networks, and users are able to remotely monitor and manage controllers from any mobile or smart device.

“We’re very proud of the positive impact on outdoor water conservation we’ve had in the U.S. market and raising awareness to the necessity of irrigating in harmony with nature,” said Pat McIntyre, CEO of ETwater. “The Jain acquisition will expand ETwater efficiencies throughout the U.S. and now worldwide to become a gold standard in sustainable water management globally.”

“Jain is an early leader in the IoT for agriculture,” said Aric Olson, president of Jain Irrigation, Inc. “ETwater will improve our position in agriculture and helps us make a bigger impact in reducing water waste in landscape irrigation."

“We are thrilled to have ETwater join our family. After several successful irrigation technology acquisitions, the addition of ETwater … adds key technologies that can be deployed globally to our growing technology customer base.”
Published in Irrigating
Woodstock, Ont – Brothers Jordan and Alex McKay were named Ontario’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2018.

The brother team operates Willow Tree Farm, a community supported agriculture [CSA] farm and market, at Port Perry, Ont. The winners were announced at the Ontario regional event held on September 11, 2018, in conjunction with Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show in Woodstock.

Alex received his Bachelor of Science in Forestry but always knew he wanted to go back to the family farm. He had inherited his passion for the land and seeing what he could grow on it from his dad. Once Jordan completed his Bachelor of Commerce in Ag Business degree, he travelled the world following his passion for skiing before returning to the farm market. Jordan had his mom’s passion for selling produce at farmers’ markets so the brothers’ strengths complement each other well.

With a mission of providing fresh food by sustainable farming, Willow Tree Farm takes local farm fresh food to a whole new level. In 2016, they opened a year round market that includes a commercial kitchen, fresh butcher market and 4,300 sq. ft. of retail space. With the market open year round, Jordan and Alex have to come up with many unique ways to sell or use their produce, whether it is fresh corn on the cob in the summer or corn chowder at the cafe in the winter. They have designed the market to tell a story about buying food locally, decorating it with beams from surrounding old barns. Being a family business, you will find Jordan’s wife Alyson and Alex’s wife Kelty working at the market.

The other nominees recognized were Derek and Marie Brouwer of Brouwer Farms, Branchton, Ont; and Darold and Kara Enright of Enright Cattle Company, Tweed, Ont.

Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2018 will be chosen at the National Event in Winnipeg, Man, from November 29 – December 3, 2018.
Published in Profiles
According to recent reports from south of the border, two senators from North Dakota are asking their federal government to investigate allegations that Canadian growers are dumping potatoes into the U.S. market.

The proof? Over the past few years, there’s been a surge in potato imports from Canada to the U.S. [$212 million worth of fresh potatoes in 2015-2016] while demand for U.S. spuds has decreased. A recent report from Potatoes USA showed exports of fresh U.S. potatoes bound for Canada have dropped 13.5 per cent from July 2017 to June 2018. And U.S. producers believe this is due to Canadian protectionist trade practices and a sign the government is subsidizing the industry.

But, according to reports in Canadian media, growers in the Great White North are merely benefiting from a favourable exchange rate. And the only government support they are receiving is through loans that need to be matched 50/50 by the recipient and repaid over 10 years.

Senator John Hoeven (Rep) and Senator Heidi Heitkamp (Dem) have both come out strong against Canada, accusing their northern neighbour of “unfair treatment” of American potatoes.

“Red River Valley potato growers have a strong case to be made that Canada has unfairly limited their profits and narrowed their fair market access,” Heitkamp said.

“Canada remains one of our closest friends and allies, but we still need, and our farmers deserve, reciprocity in trade,” Hoeven said. “That’s why we continue urging the administration to address Canada’s unfair treatment of American agriculture exports. Our trading partners would never tolerate this kind of treatment from the U.S.”

This isn’t the only trade woe facing the U.S. potato industry. According to a recent report from Potatoes USA, the U.S. potato market share to Mexico has dropped to 76 per cent from 82 per cent from July 2017 to June 2018 as the European Union and Canada made significant gains in the market.
Published in Marketing
The use of biocontrol pest methods in horticulture is growing, whether it’s trap crops, pheromone traps, predatory insects or biopesticides.
Published in Insects
Employment and Social Development Canada has extended the deadline for commenting on the Primary Agriculture Review of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

New deadline: September 30, 2018

CHC encourages all stakeholders to share their insight, ideas and experiences on four key themes:
  1. Program Eligibility and Structure - Explore the definition of Primary Agriculture and the use of the National Commodities List in the context of the TFW Program, as well as the structure of Primary Agriculture Stream.
  2. Wages and Deductions - Discuss the current wage structure for the Primary Agriculture Stream and how it relates to the needs of the agricultural sector.
  3. Housing in Primary Agriculture - Explore the current requirements for housing provided to temporary foreign workers and the impact of creating a national housing standard for the Primary Agriculture Stream.
  4. Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) Processing - Discuss the current system for processing of LMIA applications, including possible measures to improve efficiency and service standards; and the potential impacts of an LMIA fee.
In addition to the themes identified above, stakeholders can choose to provide feedback on additional topics related to the Primary Agriculture Stream of the TFWP.

You are invited to participate in these consultations through one of the following options:
Provide written submissions by completing the submission template and sending it to:
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Participate in an online survey.

For more information on the Primary Agriculture Review, please contact the Sector Policy Division of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Published in Federal
Publication 360, Fruit Crop Protection Guide 2018-2019 is now available as a downloadable pdf file, through the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) website at the following links:

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/pub360/p360toc.htm

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/french/crops/pub360/p360toc.htm 

Individual chapters will be made available on the OMAFRA website soon. There will only be a limited number of copies of the print version of Publication 360 available through Service Ontario.

Published in Fruit
Move over Red Delicious – there’s a new top apple in town.

The U.S. Apple Association [US Apple] recently announced that after 50-plus years of being the number one produced apple in the United States, the Red Delicious has been surpassed by Gala.

“The rise in production of newer varieties of apples aimed at the fresh consumption market has caused demand for Red Delicious to decline,” said Mark Seetin, director of regulatory and industry affairs with US Apple, during the association’s 2018 outlook conference.

The top five apple varieties in 2018 – based on forecasted production numbers – are Gala, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Fuji and Honeycrisp. Golden Delicious is expected to drop out of the top five to sixth place in production numbers.

”However, Red Delicious is important in the export market, where it makes up roughly half of our apple exports,” Seetin added.

The top five export markets for U.S. apples include Mexico, India, Canada, Taiwan and Vietnam.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has forecast the 2018 U.S. crop at 272.7 million bushels, making it the fourth largest recorded crop.

At $3.55 billion, farm gate value of the U.S. 2017 crop was up three per cent over 2016 and set a new record.

US Apple’s 2018 Outlook conference is currently underway in Chicago, IL.
Published in Fruit
There are now seven generations of farmers in Delta, B.C. behind (and in front of) Pacific Potato Corp., and while the potato was always a dietary staple, it wasn’t until recent generations that it became this family’s mainstay.
Published in Production
Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency [PMRA] recently announced it is restarting the review process for mancozeb.

All current final decisions and proposals regarding MRLs for mancozeb products will be removed and a new proposal for consultation will be posted.

The PMRA released its evaluation for mancozeb and metiram products in June 2018. According to that decision, all uses of products containing mancozeb (Manzate, Penncozeb, Dithane, Ridomil Gold MZ and Gavel) and metiram (Polyram) were to be cancelled with the exception of foliar applications to potatoes. Representatives from the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and the Canadian Horticulture Council met with PMRA to voice their concerns about the loss of these products and a new review process was agreed upon.

The decision for metiram could not be reversed for legal reasons. This means that as of June 2020, Polyram cannot be used on any crop except potatoes and the label will reflect that change.
Published in Diseases
The Canadian Horticultural Council (CHC)’s Board of Directors recently welcomed industry and government representatives on their summer tour of several berry and vegetable farms, as well as an apple orchard near Quebec City.

Most notably, the group was joined by MP Jean-Claude Poissant, Parliamentary Secretary for agriculture, and MP Luc Berthold, Vice-Chair of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food.

CHC was also pleased to host representatives from the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Pest Management Centre, the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec, CropLife Canada, Farm Credit Canada, the Fruit and Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corporation, l’Association des producteurs maraîchers du Quebec, l’Association des producteurs de pommes de terre du Québec, and Lassonde.

Throughout the day, key topics of discussion centered on labour, small business tax deductions, and crop protection issues.

At each location, group participants also learned directly from the farmers about the kinds of innovative practices that are being implemented in their operations. | READ MORE 
Published in Federal
The story of how Ontario’s first and only wild blueberry farm and winery came about perhaps started when a large parcel of land near Wawa was deforested some years ago. The 600 acres of ancient Lake Superior bottom – completely stone-free and extremely flat with a sand/silt soil type – quickly filled in with wild blueberries bushes.
Published in Fruit
It would be nice to be able to stand up and look out over your whole field at once, with a “bird’s eye view, to see how it is progressing. A camera mounted on an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle [UAV or drone] can do that for you.
Published in Research
Using tunnels to provide a more consistent environment for raspberries and strawberries has been employed around the world, but less so in North America. Kathy Demchak from the Department of Plant Science at Penn State University has surveyed growers and conducted research on the use of tunnels in growing fresh-market strawberries and raspberries to help growers determine if the option is viable in their own field.
Published in Fruit
Drip irrigation is no longer the ‘new kid on the block,’ and nearly 10 per cent of U.S. farms rely on it to grow their crops. Each year, new growers dabble with drip and many learn by trial and error. Reaching out with some helpful tips to those growers is Inge Bisconer, technical marketing and sales manager for Toro Micro-Irrigation.
Published in Irrigating
My husband is always reminding me not to read the online comment sections of news articles. “They’ll only aggravate you,” he says, before listing off the numerous times I’ve almost had a stroke yelling at my computer screen.
Published in Associations
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