Horticultural Crops
October 16, 2017, Vancouver, BC – Five small B.C. wineries have been granted permission to bring their concerns to the Supreme Court of Canada in the interprovincial shipping of liquor case R. v. Comeau. The Supreme Court will hear the case in early December 2017.

R. v. Comeau is the first court case in which any winery in Canada has had an opportunity to address the legal barriers to interprovincial shipping of wine made from Canadian grown grapes.

Curtis Krouzel (50th Parallel Estate), Ian MacDonald (Liquidity Wines), Jim D'Andrea (Noble Ridge Vineyard and Winery), Christine Coletta (Okanagan Crush Pad Winery), and John Skinner (Painted Rock Estate Winery) each own and operate vineyards and wineries that produce wine exclusively using 100 per cent B.C. grown grapes. These five producers head a coalition of more than 100 small wineries from British Columbia who seek to change the law governing interprovincial shipping of wine and liquor across Canada. As such, the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Comeau will determine the fate of the B.C. wine industry for decades to come.

“The Supreme Court of Canada will hear from the two parties to the appeal (the New Brunswick Crown and Mr. Comeau) as well as a couple dozen other ‘interveners’ at the hearing on December 6 and 7, 2017,” explained Shea Coulson, counsel for the five winery owners. “After the hearing, the court could take up to a year to make its decision."

Coulson's aim is to inform the court about the alleged negative impact on small B.C. wineries created by interprovincial barriers that prohibit shipment of wine to Canadians across the country.

“The court has to balance many complex interests, but my clients will argue that it is possible to incrementally change the law to permit interprovincial shipments of Canadian wine, and why it is of fundamental importance to the future survival of the industry to remove these barriers,” he said.

Whichever way the court decides, R. v. Comeau will have a monumental effect on the Canadian liquor industry and addresses questions at the heart of Canada's federalist constitution.
Published in Provinces
October 13, 2017, Plessisville, Que – A Quebec-based organic cranberry processor is now ready to expand production and boost exports, thanks to an investment from the federal government.

The investment, announced Oct. 13, has helped Fruit d’Or commission a new plant just as Canadian food processors are taking advantage of new market opportunities under the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union, which took effect September 21. Since then, Fruit d’Or has sold around 635,000 pounds of dry fruits in Europe.

The federal government helped build the new plant, and buy and commission new equipment and technologies, thanks to more than $9.3 million in funding under the AgriInnovation Program of the Growing Forward 2 Agreement.

Agriculture and Agri‑Food Canada’s support through the AgriInnovation Program and interest-free financing is very important for Fruit d’Or,” said Martin Le Moine, president and CEO of the company. “Fruit d’Or has invested more than $50 million in its new Plessisville plant over the past two years. Because of this support, Fruit d’Or has an ultra-modern facility, equipped with innovations that enable it to provide its clients in more than 50 countries with innovative products that showcase Quebec cranberries and berries.”

Fruit d'Or produces cranberry juice and dried fruits to meet the growing demand of consumers around the world. As a result of this project, the company has increased its processing capacity by eight million pounds of traditional cranberries and 15 million pounds of organic cranberries over three years.
Published in Fruit
October 13, 2017, St. Catharines, Ont – Grape harvest is in full swing in Ontario, and the Grape Growers of Ontario (GGO) welcomed the opportunity to meet with Premier Kathleen Wynne in the vineyards of grape grower Bill George in Beamsville, Ont.

The Premier had a birds-eye view of the vineyards from the seat of a harvester. The harvest is at the mid-point with white varieties such as Riesling and Chardonnay typically harvested early in the season followed by the later maturing red varieties. While the rain has slowed down harvest this week, the return to warm and dry weather is expected over the next week.

The Grape Growers of Ontario were pleased to have the opportunity to meet with the Premier to discuss topics of importance to grape growers and hear first-hand about issues that are impacting farm families. The planned increase in minimum wage is one of the key issues for growers.

“While we appreciate the intent behind the increase in minimum wage to improve the livelihood of minimum wage earners, we explained clearly the impact that it will have on farm families, and are pleased that the Premier understands our issues”, said Matthias Oppenlaender, chair of the GGO.

“Normal labour costs for horticulture farms are about 65 per cent of operating earnings, making it the highest on-farm expense,” added Bill George, vice chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association. “The increase announced for next year can push labour costs to as much as 90 per cent of operating earnings.”

There is a very real need for financial assistance to transition to the higher minimum wage to protect family farms, as well as support for local VQA wine made of 100 per cent Ontario grown grapes to ensure a market for the fruits of their labour.
Published in Associations
October 12, 2017, Deschambault, Que – The Canadian government is prioritizing science and innovation and the competitiveness of the agriculture industry as a whole to create better business opportunities for producers and Canadians.

Funding was announced recently for two projects by the Centre de recherche en sciences animales de Deschambault (CRSAD), including a plan to increase the pollination efficiency of bees to achieve better yields in cranberry production.

Funding of $183,127 will enable the CRSAD to identify the best method of feeding bees with sucrose syrup and to test variations of that method to maximize the bees’ pollination efficiency in cranberry production. The outcomes of this project are designed to increase cranberry yields and decrease bee feeding costs.

“The CRSAD is very appreciative of the federal government’s strong support for its research activities,” said Jean-Paul Laforest, president of the CRSAD. “Canada holds an enviable position in the world for cranberry production, and bees are major allies of the industry. Our project will deliver positive outcomes for both cranberry production and the bees themselves.”

In 2016, the Quebec cranberry industry generated nearly $82 million in market receipts and over $30 million in exports.

 
Published in Research
October 12, 2017, Madison, WI – The colour red is splashed across gardens, forests and farms, attracting pollinators with bright hues, signaling ripe fruit and delighting vegetable and flower gardeners alike.

But if you put a ruby raspberry up against a crimson beet and look closely, you might just notice: they are different reds.

Millions of years ago, one family of plants – the beets and their near and distant cousins – hit upon a brand new red pigment and discarded the red used by the rest of the plant world. How this new red evolved, and why a plant that makes both kinds of red pigment has never been found, are questions that have long attracted researchers puzzling over plant evolution.

Writing recently in the journal New Phytologist, University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor of Botany Hiroshi Maeda and his colleagues describe an ancient loosening up of a key biochemical pathway that set the stage for the ancestors of beets to develop their characteristic red pigment. By evolving an efficient way to make the amino acid tyrosine, the raw material for the new red, this plant family freed up extra tyrosine for more uses. Later innovations turned the newly abundant tyrosine scarlet.

The new findings can aid beet breeding programs and provide tools and information for scientists studying how to turn tyrosine into its many useful derivatives, which include morphine and vitamin E.

“The core question we have been interested in is how metabolic pathways have evolved in different plants, and why plants can make so many different compounds,” says Maeda. “Beets were the perfect start for addressing the question.”

The vast majority of plants rely on a class of pigments called anthocyanins to turn their leaves and fruits purple and red. But the ancestors of beets developed the red and yellow betalains, and then turned off the redundant anthocyanins. Besides beets, the colour is found in Swiss chard, rhubarb, quinoa and cactuses, among thousands of species. Betalains are common food dyes and are bred for by beet breeders.

When Maeda lab graduate student and lead author of the new paper Samuel Lopez-Nieves isolated the enzymes in beets that produce tyrosine, he found two versions. One was inhibited by tyrosine – a natural way to regulate the amount of the amino acid, by shutting off production when there is a lot of it. But the second enzyme was much less sensitive to regulation by tyrosine, meaning it could keep making the amino acid without being slowed down. The upshot was that beets produced much more tyrosine than other plants, enough to play around with and turn into betalains.

Figuring that humans had bred this highly active tyrosine pathway while selecting for bright-red beets, Lopez-Nieves isolated the enzymes from wild beets.

“Even the wild ancestor of beets, sea beet, had this deregulated enzyme already. That was unexpected. So, our initial hypothesis was wrong,” says Lopez-Nieves.

So he turned to spinach, a more distant cousin that diverged from beets longer ago. Spinach also had two copies, one that was not inhibited by tyrosine, meaning the new tyrosine pathway must be older than the spinach-beet ancestor. The researchers needed to go back much further in evolutionary time to find when the ancestor of beets evolved a second, less inhibited enzyme.

Working with collaborators at the University of Michigan and the University of Cambridge, Maeda’s team analyzed the genomes of dozens of plant families, some that made betalains and others that diverged before the new pigments had evolved. They discovered that the tyrosine pathway innovation – with one enzyme free to make more of the amino acid – evolved long before betalains. Only later did other enzymes evolve that could turn the abundant tyrosine into the red betalains.

“Our initial hypothesis was the betalain pigment pathway evolved and then, during the breeding process, people tweaked the tyrosine pathway in order to further increase the pigment. But that was not the case,” says Maeda. “It actually happened way back before. And it provided an evolutionary stepping stone toward the evolution of this novel pigment pathway.”

The takeaway of this study, says Maeda, is that altering the production of raw materials like tyrosine opens up new avenues for producing the varied and useful compounds that make plants nature’s premier chemists.

For some unknown ancestor of beets and cactuses, this flexibility in raw materials allowed it to discover a new kind of red that the world had not seen before, one that is still splashed across the plant world today.
Published in Research
October 11, 2017, West Lafayette, IN – Apple growers want to get the most out of their high-value cultivars, and a Purdue University study shows they might want to focus on the types of apples they plant near those cash crops.

Since apple trees cannot self-pollinate, the pollen from other apple varieties is necessary for fruit to grow. Orchard owners often plant crab apple trees amongst high-value apples such as Honeycrisp, Gala and Fuji. Crab apples produce a lot of flowers and thus a lot of pollen for bees to spread around to the other trees.

“If you are growing some Honeycrisp, you want to plant something next to your Honeycrisp that bees will pick up and spread to your Honeycrisp and make good apples,” said Peter Hirst, a Purdue professor of horticulture and landscape architecture. “Growers will alternate plantings of different cultivars every few rows to promote cross-pollination, and they’ll sometimes put a crab apple tree in the middle of a row as well.”

Hirst and Khalil Jahed, a Purdue doctoral student, wondered if it mattered which type of apple pollinated high-value cultivars. To find out, they manually applied pollen from Red Delicious and Golden Delicious, and two types of crab apple – Ralph Shay and Malus floribunda – to Honeycrisp, Fuji and Gala. They put a net over the trees to keep the bees out, so they could control the pollen that was applied.

Their findings, published recently in the journal HortScience, showed that Honeycrisp pollinated with the Red Delicious variety doubled fruit set — the conversion of flowers into fruit — compared to Honeycrisp pollinated with the crab apple varieties.

In Honeycrisp, pollen tubes created by Red Delicious pollen reached on average 85 per cent of the distance to the ovary, compared to 40 per cent for pollen tubes from crab apple pollen. And fruit set with Red Delicious pollen was four times higher in the first year of the study, and eight times higher in the second, compared to crab apples.

“On Honeycrisp especially, the two crab apples we tried are not very effective at all. The pollen grows very slowly, and you end up with reduced fruit set as a consequence,” Hirst said.

The crab apples did better with Fuji and Gala but still didn’t match the effectiveness of Red Delicious pollen.

When pollen lands on the pistil of the flower, it must be recognized, and if it is compatible, the pollen will germinate and grow down the style to the ovary. Once fertilized, the ovule becomes a seed and the flower becomes a fruit.

Jahed collected flowers from pollinated trees each day for four days after pollination and measured pollen tube growth and fruit set. Overall, the Red Delicious was the best pollinizer, followed by Golden Delicious and then the crab apple varieties. Jahed said the experiment should lead apple growers to consider the design of their orchards to ensure that better pollinizers are planted near high-value crops.

“If they have a good pollinizer and a compatible pollinizer, the fruit quality and fruit set will be higher than with those that are not compatible,” Jahed said.

The research was part of Jahed’s master’s degree thesis, which he has completed. He and Hirst do not plan to continue studying the effectiveness of different pollinizers, but he hopes that others take up the research. They do plan to publish one final paper on pollination and fruit quality in 2018.
Published in Research
October 11, 2017, Edmonton, Alta – Essentials of Selling Local Food takes place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on October 24, 2017, at the Wildwood Recreation Complex in Wildwood, Alta.

“This one-day workshop is for people interested in learning more about selling food direct to consumers and potentially transitioning into retail sales,” said Delores Serafin with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “You’ll learn about the local food opportunity, and the different farm direct marketing channels, their benefits and challenges. As well, you’ll hear about the scope of the retail market, market drivers and the pros and cons of accessing the retail market opportunity.”

At the workshop, participants will:
  • meet the Alberta agriculture specialists available to assist you as you establish your food business
  • hear about the regulations that apply to your food business
  • Alberta Health Services will share the food regulation requirements as well as safe food handling practices
  • learn everything you need to know as you assess the retail food market
  • receive insights into the Yellowhead County Local Food initiative
Cost is $23.75 plus GST, and lunch and refreshments will be provided. The registration deadline is October 17, 2017. Registration can be done online or by calling 1-800-387-6030.

For more information, contact Delores Serafin at 780-427-4611 or via email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .'; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text71018 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
October 10, 2017, Beeton, Ont – It’s potato harvest season once again and as storage bins throughout the area begin to fill up with mounds of taters, some farmers are finding themselves in a bit of a high-wire act to ensure they don’t lose their crops.

Mark Vanoostrum, the supply and quality manager for W.D. Potato in Beeton, said the chipping potatoes harvested so far are revealing the effects of all the wacky weather the area experienced this past summer.

One of the big challenges is making sure the potatoes don’t sit too long and turn bad, so timely co-ordination of shipments to potato chip companies is critical. READ MORE
Published in Vegetables
October 6, 2017 – The Grand Falls and Florenceville-Bristol, NB, growers banquets were held in August 2017 to recognized the top grower partners of McCain.

Les Fermes LP Thériault & Fils of Drummond was named the 2016-2017 McCain Champion Potato Grower for Grand Falls during the 43rd annual McCain Growers’ Banquet held August 22 at Centre E.& P. Sénéchal. Lakeside Farms of Greenfield was named the 2016-2017 McCain Champion Potato Grower for Florenceville-Bristol, NB, during the 44th Annual McCain Growers’ Banquet held August 23 at the Northern Carleton Civic Centre.

Allison McCain, chairman of McCain Foods Limited, Shai Altman, president of McCain Foods Canada, and Christine Wentworth, VP of agriculture NA extended personal congratulations to Lakeside Farms, and Les Fermes LP Thériault & Fils as well as all of the McCain growers.

McCain expressed the importance of New Brunswick agriculture and the need to continuously be innovative in farming practices.

“Early adoption of farm practice innovations is essential to ensuring New Brunswick growers and McCain can compete in global markets,” she said.

Wentworth thanked the growers for their “loyalty, dedication and contribution to McCain over the last 60 years” and wished them a safe and bountiful harvest, while Altman reiterated that the company’s partnership with the growers is critical for the business. 

McCain is a proud Canadian company,” he said, “and you all have a part to play in that.  We look forward to a bright future ahead.”

​Marc Thériault of Les Fermes LP Thériault & Fils of Drummond was thrilled to be announced as the Champion Grower. The Thériault family has been contracting with McCain for 44 years, has been in the Top 10 17 times, and this was their second time winning the Champion Grower title.

“It’s a great feeling and makes me feel appreciated for all the hard work that I’ve given,” said Marc. “It takes dedication, hard work, employees that care and, of course, some good luck too.”

Arthur Tweedie – with sons Peter, Paul and grandson Matthew – of Lakeside Farms was surprised and delighted to be announced as the Champion Grower. The Tweedie family is only one of two grower families that have been providing potatoes to McCain since the company started 60 years ago, in 1957. They have been in the Top Ten eight times and this is their second time claiming the Champion title. When asked what it took to achieve the first place standing, Peter said “following advice from McCain agronomists and talking to other growers about best practices was really helpful, but a lot of it was just good luck and help from Mother Nature.”

Other growers who qualified for the top 10 Florenceville-Bristol roster, in order of final standing were:
  • Kilpatrick Farms (Brian Kilpatrick with son, Jared – Greenfield)
  • Valley Farms Ltd. Florenceville (Under management of Jeff Miller and Colton Rennie)
  • G and C Culberson Inc. (Cory Culberson with father, Gerald - Jacksonville)
  • B and C Young Farms Ltd. (Blair Young with son, Chad - Bedell)
  • Herb Culberson Farms Ltd. (Herb Culberson – Jacksonville)
  • Double B Farms Ltd. (Dana Bubar with son, Aaron – Hartland)
  • Meduxnekeag Farms Ltd. (Daniel Metherell – Jackson Falls)
  • R H McLean Farms Inc. (Randy McLean with son, Jason – Maplehurst)
  • Wilmot Farms (Kevin Taylor – Lakeville)
The other growers who qualified for the top 10 Grand Falls roster, in order of final standing were:
  • Ed & Dan Levesque (Edmund & Daniel Levesque with sons Eric and Denis – Saint-André)
  • Northwest Potato Farms (Michel & Lise Levesque and son Marc – Saint-André)
  • Desjardins Farms (Denis and René Desjardins – Drummond)
  • Eagle Farms (Gilles Godbout and his son, Mathieu – Saint-André)
  • Ferme GIL Roberge (Guildor Roberge and his son Luc – Saint-André)
  • Super Farms Potatoes (Jean-Guy, Jules, Luc & Andre Levesque – Saint-André)
  • Les Fermes Poitras (Rock Poitras and his son, Luc – Saint-André)
  • Andre Daigle Farms (Andre Daigle and his son Mathieu – St-Leonard)
  • Les Fermes Mario Levesque (Mario and André Levesque – Saint-André)
Published in Companies
October 4, 2017, Vancouver, BC – As dairy products, Bombardier aircraft and softwood lumber continue to bedevil trade relations between Canada and the U.S., negotiators will have to add wine to their list of issues to resolve.

The U.S. has filed a second complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over what it perceives as B.C.’s unfair rules regarding wine sales in the province’s grocery stores, according to a release from the WTO. READ MORE
Published in Federal
October 4, 2017 – Soils keep plants healthy by providing plants with water, helpful minerals, and microbes, among other benefits. But what if the soil also contains toxic elements?

In some growing areas, soils are naturally rich in elements, such as cadmium. Leafy vegetables grown in these soils can take up the cadmium and become harmful to humans. What to do? The solution goes back to the soil. Adrian Paul, a former researcher now working in the Sustainable Mineral Institute in Brisbane, Australia, is working to find which soil additives work best.

Cadmium appears in very low levels or in forms that prevent contamination in soils across the world. However, some soils naturally have more than others. It can result from the erosion of local rock formations. In some instances, it’s present due to human activity. Metal processing, fertilizer or fossil fuel combustion, for example, can leave cadmium behind.

Cadmium may decrease people’s kidney function and bone density. As a result, international guidelines set safety limits on cadmium found in food. Growers with otherwise fertile fields need to grow food within these safe levels. Their livelihood depends on it.

“Our research aims to protect producers and consumers by lowering the cadmium in vegetables. This gives producers the ability to grow safe, profitable crops,” Paul says. “Consumers need to be able to safely eat what the farmers grow.”

Paul worked with four additives: zinc and manganese salts, limestone, and biosolids [nutrient-rich organic materials from sewage processed at a treatment facility] compost.

Although each works in a slightly different manner, the soil amendments generally solve the cadmium problem in two ways. They can prevent the passage of cadmium from the soil to the plant by offering competing nutrients. They can also chemically alter the cadmium so it is unavailable.

The researchers found that a combination of compost, zinc, and limestone brought the levels of cadmium in spinach down to nontoxic levels. The next step in this work is to better determine the ideal combination of the soil amendments. Researchers also want to study vegetables besides spinach, and other elements.

“Farmlands provide for us all,” Paul says. ”Rehabilitating agricultural fields, by removing heavy metals like cadmium, means healthier soils and healthier food.”

Read more about this study in the Journal of Environmental Quality.
Published in Research
October 3,2017, Guelph, Ont – Ontario farmers who are thinking about growing a non-traditional crop have a valuable new tool to assess whether it’s a profitable idea. Making a Case for Growing New Crops is an online learning resource recently developed by the Agri-Food Management Institute (AMI) to help farmers engage in business planning before planting.

“This resource will help you decide if that new crop is right for your farm at this time,” says Ashley Honsberger, executive director of AMI.

According to Honsberger, farmers are increasingly looking at non-traditional crops to meet new customer preferences, realize higher value per acre, or for crop rotation and other environmental benefits.

The resource was developed in partnership with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), who surveyed members earlier this year to gauge interest in growing new crops, as well as the best method of delivering information.

“We know Ontario farmers are interested in growing new crops, and are looking for timely information on marketing a crop, finding buyers and locating processors,” says Keith Currie, OFA president. “We appreciated providing AMI with industry input on a resource that will ultimately support farm business management and reduce the risk of expanding into a new crop.”

Making a Case for Growing New Crops features five interactive modules that users work through on their own schedule to develop a business case for diversifying their farm. Through a series of videos and worksheets, users can determine whether the crop is an agronomic fit, identify customers and markets, analyze their cost of production and develop a budget. In the end, they will have a personalized and confidential report that includes a business model canvas (a one-page visual business plan) as well as an action plan to share with their team and use to communicate with their advisors and lenders.

“Whatever the reason, taking time to build a business case for growing new crops makes sense,” says Honsberger. “While we encourage farmers to take a new approach, we also want them to really evaluate the opportunity and manage any potential risks associated with growing new crops.”

Of the 402 farmers responding to the online survey about new crops – as part of the Making a Case for Growing News Crops project – about 20 per cent had tried a new crop in the past five years. The main reasons farmers chose to trying something new included: changing markets and emerging opportunities (29 per cent), crop rotation and environmental benefits (24 per cent), and reducing overall risk through diversification (24 per cent). And 27 per cent of farmers said they develop a business plan before beginning a new crop opportunity.

For growers who had not introduced a new crop in the last five years, 7 per cent plan to in the next two years, 49 per cent do not plan to, and 44 per cent were undecided. These results suggest farmers are open to new crop opportunities, but are hesitant and unsure of how successful they may be.

The survey findings also contributed to OFA’s submission for the Bring Home the World: Improving Access to Ontario’s World Foods consultation by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
Published in Marketing
October 3, 2017, Edmonton, Alta – Alberta seed potato companies are invited to participate in a market development mission to Thailand from November 19-27, 2017.

The mission will include stops in Bangkok, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, Thailand to meet with importers, distributors and potential customers as well as touring local potato farm operations.

“This mission will profile Alberta as a reliable producer of high quality, low virus seed potatoes,” says Rachel Luo, senior trade and relations officer with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “This will be the first market development mission focused on seed potato suppliers to Thailand since Alberta was granted market access last year.”

To be eligible to participate in this mission, companies should be providers of seed potatoes and interested in the Thai marketplace.

There is no fee to participate in the program; however, companies are responsible for payment of their own travel expenses and any other costs occurred.

Participating companies may be reimbursed for their participation for 1/2 of the actual designated participation costs, up to a maximum of $2,500 [CDN]. Reimbursement is to help offset a portion of their travel expenses including airfares and accommodations for one representative per company.

Participating companies will receive full details about eligible expenses in their confirmation letter.

For more information, contact Rachel Luo, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Space is limited. The application deadline is October 13, 2017.
Published in Marketing
October 3, 2017, Kingston, Ont – Employee labour tracking, cloud based data, and the need for a future of digital food safety documentation were each important aspects when the Ontario Berry Growers Association (OBGA) decided to provide its growers with a high level traceability software, Croptracker.

For the OBGA, the software selection of is the result of the Croptracker team working diligently with Ontario berry growers for the past year to learn and develop berry crop processes and strategies. The most important and beneficial feature berry growers needed was the capability of developing, calculating, and tracking piecework harvest. This allows for growers to track individual employee labour and payout calculations while managing and adjusting piecework rates. With successful implementation, the association saw the opportunity to opt into Croptracker, not only for their food safety and audits, but also for their labour tracking.

Croptracker is a very intuitive program that provides growers with food safety traceability and so much more,” said Kevin Schooley, executive director of the OBGA. “I encourage all berry growers to take advantage of the opportunity to work with this software. It is an Ontario product that understands the needs of growers.”

Croptracker is currently free to all OBGA members.
Published in Companies
September 25, 2017, Guelph, Ont – Ontario tender fruit farmers need the right mix of rain, sunshine and growing temperatures to produce juicy, fresh peaches, pears, cherries, apricots and nectarines. But when extreme weather hits during critical crop development, it can wreak havoc on an entire crop. And unpredictable weather events are becoming more and more common.

The Ontario Tender Fruit Growers saw the need for a better way to work with whatever the weather sends their way.

“We had no good data available to know the damage that would result to our fruit crops from extreme temperatures,” says Phil Tregunno, chair of Ontario Tender Fruit.

With Growing Forward 2 funding through the Agricultural Adaptation Council, the producer group was able to work with researchers to assess the bud hardiness of various tender fruit crops. Bud hardiness gives an indication of the temperature the dormant buds can withstand before there will be damage to the resulting crop.

“If we want to be able to provide Ontario and Canadian consumers with high quality, local fruit, we need to have better tools to manage extreme weather,” says Tregunno.

Data gathered on the bud hardiness of tender fruit crops now feeds a new real-time, automated weather alert system to help Ontario tender fruit growers make decisions about how to manage extreme weather events.

Developed in partnership with Brock University, KCMS Inc., Weather INnovations Inc. and Ontario Tender Fruit, the new system runs on regional temperatures that are updated every 15 minutes, and bud survival data.

With 90 per cent of tender fruit production in the Niagara region, the bulk of the weather information comes from that area of the province.

The new weather tool is available to growers at TenderFruitAlert.ca and is searchable by location, commodity and cultivar. The site provides information to help growers monitor bud cold hardiness through the fruits’ dormant period and manage winter injury.

“Being prepared is half the battle when you farm with the weather,” says Tregunno. “This new tool gives us accurate, local weather, and matches that with the susceptibility of the specific crops and cultivars to predict that temperature when a grower will start to see crop losses. With that information, growers can make management decisions about how to deal with extreme weather – including the use of wind machines to keep temperatures above the critical point for crop injury.”

Ontario is home to more than 250 tender fruit growers, generating more than $55 million in annual sales from fresh market and processing. Those growers all remember the devastating cold weather in the spring of 2012 that saw tender fruit losses of 31 per cent to 89 per cent. 

The new web-based cold hardiness database will help growers respond and prepare for potentially damaging weather events, and that will help protect the valuable fresh, local markets, Ontario’s Niagara region is so well known for.
Published in Fruit
September 20, 2017, Calgary, Alta – New research released recently by the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI) shows that an increasing number of Canadians feel the food system is headed in the right direction.

According to the study, which examined consumer concerns and expectations surrounding food transparency and the overall food system, showed an increase in the number of Canadians who believe the food system is headed in the right direction from 30 per cent in 2016 to 43 per cent this year.

While consumer confidence is increasing, an equal number of Canadians (43 per cent) say they aren’t sure if the food system is on the right track, down from 50 per cent in 2016. These findings are significantly different than the American consumers’ findings from 2016, which showed more definitive opinions with 55 per cent choosing right direction and only 23 per cent saying they were unsure.

The 2017 CCFI Public Trust Research occurred in-the-field in June, asking 1307 Canadians about top life concerns, specifically their level of concern, trust and transparency expectations related to food and how it’s grown. Those polled clearly identified food companies to be the most responsible for providing information about food and how it’s grown. Other food system partners including farmers, government, restaurants and grocery stores also ranked highly as being responsible for transparency.

“Canadians are looking for credible information to make informed decisions about their food,” stated Crystal Mackay, president of CCFI. “This research reinforces that everyone in the Canadian food system, from the farm through to grocery stores and restaurants, should engage in conversations about food.”

Those polled are personally concerned and want more information about specific topics, including food safety, environment and farm animal treatment. Consumers are looking for information on food company websites such as third party audits, track record, practices and policies that demonstrate their values. When studying these elements of transparency, accuracy rose to the top as the most important attribute to Canadians.

Many Canadians are unsure about their food or how it’s grown, but want to learn more. Canadians ranked the rising cost of food and keeping healthy food affordable as their top two life concerns above rising energy costs, healthcare and the economy for the second year in a row.

These findings and other insights are key areas for discussion when leaders from across the entire Canadian food system meet at the CCFI Public Trust Summit in Calgary.

Find out more by reading the full 2017 CCFI Public Trust Research report on www.foodintegrity.ca.
Published in Associations
September 20, 2017, Washington – Storing Honeycrisp long-term while achieving good packouts and maintaining fruit of acceptable eating quality in the second part of the storage season has been a continuous challenge for our industry.

Up until last year, most packers had become comfortable knowing what types of performance to expect out of each lot. With Honeycrisp, you basically had to control your decay, manage chilling injuries (mainly soft scald), and bitter pit. We did know that this apple was sensitive to carbon dioxide injury but, aside from the occasional cavities, most packers did not report having significant problems. READ MORE

 


 
Published in Fruit
September 20, 2017, Old Chelsea, QC – The Government of Canada is committed to working with the agricultural industry in developing new risk management assessments and tools that help farmers manage risk.

The federal government recently announced a $461,816 investment for the Canadian Organic Growers. This funding will be used to conduct a study of the risks involved in transitioning from conventional production to organic production.

This first-of-a-kind study will reach out to organic producers across the country, as well as others in the sector. The data collected will be used to identify techniques that farmers can use to help reduce risk and manage their shift to organic production.

“More than ever, Canadians are looking to purchase organic products grown and made in Canada; however supply is not keeping pace at home or abroad,” said Rochelle Eisen, president of Canadian Organic Growers. “There is a growing environmental and economic case for transitioning to organic agriculture in Canada and by enhancing our knowledge on the subject, we can develop effective tools, programs, and policies that can better support a farmer’s journey to sustainable, organic production.”
Published in Federal
September 18, 2017, Brooks, Alta – Potato plants need a lot of nitrogen to produce tubers at optimum levels, but with more applied nitrogen comes an increased risk of nitrogen loss to the atmosphere.

Guillermo Hernandez Ramirez, an assistant professor at the University of Alberta, is studying the use and loss of that fertilizer in potato crops. He is testing various nitrogen fertilizer formulations and biostimulants to gauge their effect on potato productivity and nitrous oxide emissions. READ MORE

 

Published in Research
September 18, 2017, Churchbridge, SK – Strawberry and blueberry farmer Dusty Zamecnik of Frogmore, Ont, was named the 2017 Outstanding Young Farmers (OYF) for the Ontario Region at the annual awards event held September 12 in conjunction with Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show.

Zamecnik, a graduate of Francis Xavier, is fourth generation owner of EZ Grow Farms Ltd and partner in Hometown Brew Co. EZ Grow began as a tobacco farm but has evolved into blueberry production and strawberry propagation. By specializing, Zamecnik feels their competitive advantage is maximized.

The Ontario OYF region was honoured to have four nominees participate in the event. They were: Amanda & Steve Hammell, Tara, Ont; Jessica Foote, Janetville, Ont; Josh & Ellen and Rudi & Jennifer Biemond, Iroquois, Ont; and Dusty Zamecnik, Frogmore, Ont.

“The Ontario region of Canada's Outstanding Young Farmers has, once again, celebrated the accomplishments of a passionate group of inspiring producers,” said Jack Thomson, past president of Canada’s OYF. “Our recipient of the Ontario award, Dusty Zamecnik, has a can-do approach to his business. Passion, entrepreneurship and dedication are the foundation of any great business and Dusty displays these in spades.”

After obtaining his degree and working a few years off-farm, Zamecnik came home to take over his family’s farm. The operation moved away from rosebushes and tomatoes and focused on strawberry propagation. Orders have increased from six million plants to 16 million plants per year. The farm is now propagating breed stock to which they have exclusive rights.

Blueberries produced are sold direct to consumers in patented containers, which helped to establish brand identity. Hometown Brew Co is Zamecnik’s latest venture. He partnered with two cousins in 2016 to create a microbrewery that has three brews, including one which features the farm’s blueberries.

Zamecnik believes in being a positive voice for agriculture by using social media and being involved in local fruit organizations.

Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2017 will be chosen at the National Event in Penticton, BC, from November 30 to December 3, 2017.
Published in Profiles
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