Horticultural Crops
Apple, cherry and other tree fruit growers throughout British Columbia will be able to update aging equipment and infrastructure while increasing their marketing and research efforts thanks to a new $5-million Tree Fruit Competitiveness Fund announced recently.
Published in Provinces
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
A bold orange border marked the roadside stand of Two EE’s Farm Market in the early days – the same bright identifier still seen on the building today. For many in the community of Surrey, B.C., Two EE’s, and the Schoen family that owns and operates the market, has remained a landmark, even as the community around it changed and underwent mass development.
Published in Profiles
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
I had just settled comfortably into my office chair to wax poetic about the Red Delicious apple when disaster struck – someone beat me to it.
Published in Fruit
March 5, 2018, Kentville, NS – Perennia Food and Agriculture Inc is pleased to announce Dr. Viliam Zvalo is its new chief executive officer.

Dr. Zvalo joins Perennia from Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Vineland, Ont., where he has led their world crop program since 2014. Under his leadership, non-traditional crops such as okra, Chinese long and Indian round eggplant have began to find ground on Canadian farms. Prior to his time at Vineland, he was a team lead and senior specialist for 13 years at Perennia, focusing on all vegetables crops. At the beginning of his professional career, he worked in Canada’s biotechnology and agricultural chemical industry, which helped him gain a better understanding of the private sector research and development environment.

"The board of directors is very pleased to welcome Viliam back to Perennia in this new capacity," says Perennia Chairman Charles Keddy of Keddy Nursery in Kentville, NS. "He brings a wealth of agricultural, research and business experience and leadership, and has a keen interest in Nova Scotia's fisheries sector and working with industry and the Perennia team to create more wealth for clients."

Dr. Zvalo has a PhD in plant physiology/soil ecology and an executive MBA from St. Mary's University. He has travelled extensively and has built successful partnerships working with growers, suppliers and technology providers and many agriculture development agencies locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

"I am very excited to be returning to Perennia is this new position and to work with such a professional and accomplished team,” says Dr. Zvalo. “It is awesome to be coming back to Nova Scotia and to support the growth of these two important sectors.”

Perennia also announced the appointment of Lynne Godlien as its new chief operating officer. Godlien has been at the helm of Perennia as interim CEO for the past year and has been with the company in progressively senior positions since 2001, most recently as director of marketing and communications.

"The board is confident this new senior management team will do great work with the team, board and partners to create tangible results for our agriculture and seafood clients," says Keddy.

Dr. Zvalo will start as CEO in April 4, 2018. Until that time, Godlien will continue as interim CEO.
Published in Companies
March 5, 2018, Ithaca, NY – Stressed-out yeast is a big problem, at least for winemakers.

The single-celled organism responsible for turning sugars into alcohol experiences stress, which changes its performance during fermentation. For vintners, stressed yeast introduces difficult production dilemmas that can change the efficiency and even flavour during winemaking.

Patrick Gibney, assistant professor in the department of food science at Cornell University, is on a mission to help New York state wineries. Gibney is working out how metabolic pathways within a yeast cell determine those changes, with implications for how wine is produced.

“Yeast has many significant, perhaps underappreciated, impacts on the public,” said Gibney. “It is critical for producing beer, wine and cider. Yeast is also a common food ingredient additive and is used to produce vaccines and other compounds in the biotech industry. This tiny organism has an enormous impact on human life.”

Yeast has a long history as a model to understand the inner workings of eukaryote cell biology. Gibney, who has been researching yeast for the last 15 years, is interested in factors that affect whether cells become more resistant to stress.

“In other industries, product uniformity is prized, but for winemakers, the year-to-year variations are often more valuable,” Gibney said. “There are dozens of fungi and bacteria that could all make the process go very wrong – or they might add combinations of flavors or odors that are really good. It’s very complex.”

Gibney is collaborating with E&J Gallo Winery scientists and research teams as he applies his expertise in yeast biology to improve production across the wine industry.

In the summer of 2017, the company invited Gibney to meet people involved with wine production from different perspectives: microbiology, quality control, systems biology, and chemistry. Those conversations are already reaping benefits, as Gibney has outlined several major projects for which he and Gallo scientists are crafting research plans.

One project would tackle sluggish fermentations. “Sometimes you’re fermenting and it slows or stops completely. It’s often a microbiology problem,” Gibney said. He plans to gather samples from New York state wineries that have had this issue and inspect them at their most basic levels.

For Gibney, the research is an opportunity to benefit the wine industry in New York and beyond.

“It’s exciting to contribute to the scientific research already coming from CALS and help make advances that will help winemakers innovate with their products,” he said.
Published in Research
March 5, 2018, Adelaide, Australia – University of Adelaide researchers have discovered how grapes “breathe”, and that shortage of oxygen leads to cell death in the grape.

The discovery raises many questions about the potentially significant impacts on grape and wine quality and flavour and vine management, and may lead to new ways of selecting varieties for warming climates.

“In 2008 we discovered the phenomenon of cell death in grapes, which can be implicated where there are problems with ripening. We’ve since been trying to establish what causes cell death,” says Professor Steve Tyerman, chair of viticulture at the University of Adelaide’s Waite campus.

“Although there were hints that oxygen was involved, until now we’ve not known of the role of oxygen and how it enters the berry.”

Professor Tyerman and PhD student Zeyu Xiao from the university’s Australian Research Council (ARC) Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production have identified that during ripening, grapes suffer internal oxygen shortage.

The research was in collaboration with Dr Victor Sadras, South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), and Dr Suzy Rogiers, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Wagga Wagga. Published in the Journal of Experimental Botany, the researchers describe how grape berries suffer internal oxygen shortage during ripening. With the use of a miniature oxygen measuring probe – the first time this has been done in grapes – they compared oxygen profiles across the flesh inside grapes of Chardonnay, Shiraz and Ruby Seedless table grape.

They found that the level of oxygen shortage closely correlated with cell death within the grapes. Respiration measurements indicated that this would be made worse by high temperatures during ripening – expected to happen more frequently with global warming.

"By manipulating oxygen supply we discovered that small pores on the surface of the berry stem were vital for oxygen supply, and if they were blocked this caused increased cell death within the berry of Chardonnay, essentially suffocating the berry. We also used micro X-ray computed tomography (CT) to show that air canals connect the inside of the berry with the small pores on the berry stem,” says Mr Xiao.

"Shiraz has a much smaller area of these oxygen pores on the berry stem which probably accounts for its greater sensitivity to temperature and higher degree of cell death within the berry.” 

Professor Vladimir Jiranek, director of the University of Adelaide’s ARC Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production, says: “This breakthrough on how grapes breathe will provide the basis for further research into berry quality and cultivar selection for adapting viticulture to a warming climate.”

The study was supported by the Australian Industrial Transformation Research Program with support from Wine Australia and industry partners.
Published in Research
February 28, 2018, Toronto, Ont – Ontario’s new minimum wage is affecting the city’s entire food industry.

On Jan. 1 the province’s minimum wage rose to $14 an hour, after increasing to $11.25 an hour last April. READ MORE
Published in Provinces
February 27, 2018, Charlottetown, PEI – The 2018 edition of the International Potato Technology Expo welcomed professionals from across North America back to the Eastlink Centre. The top industry event took Charlottetown by storm with an impressive display of equipment and products, alongside a sold-out educational conference.

More than 3,300 attendees walked the show floor to check out diverse exhibits from local, regional, national, and international companies. Potato growers, together with the leading manufacturers of equipment and product solutions from across the Maritimes and beyond were in attendance. Dozens of exhibitors at the show debuted cutting-edge and innovative products including new potato varieties, the latest models of equipment, innovative growing technology, and more.

“The crowd was very steady and exhibitors were happy with the turnout,” said Mark Cusack, show manager. “We saw professionals of all backgrounds come out to the event – from lifelong growers to children and families of the industry. Comments on the conference were very positive as well. Everything came together at the right time.”

The full educational conference program saw huge success on both days of the show. During some sessions, listeners lined the room with seats completely filled to hear experts speak on informative, relevant topics.

Sponsors of the event included Prince Edward Island Agriculture and Fisheries, Sygenta, and Farm Credit Canada.

The International Potato Technology Expo takes place biennially in Charlottetown. The next edition will occur in 2020.
Published in Vegetables
February 26, 2018, Charlottetown, PEI – Since the International Potato Technology Expo launched in 2000, Glen MacLean, a 700-acre seed potato farmer in O’Leary, hasn’t missed a show.

Mark Cusack, the event’s national show manager, said the expo is held every two years in Charlottetown. He estimates the event will have about 5,000 visitors and 130 exhibitors over the two days. READ MORE
Published in Vegetables
February 26, 2018, Osoyoos, BC – Pinder Dhaliwal always knew that the farm was his home no matter what career he chose to follow.

And that’s exactly what the new president of the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association fell back on after exploring several jobs in his youth.

The 48-year-old farmer from Oliver was recently elected to take over the helm of the BCFGA after former president Fred Steele stepped down. READ MORE
Published in Associations
February 23, 2018, Niagara Falls, Ont – The chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association expects labour, energy and trade to be the discussion points this year in the horticulture industry.

The association held its annual general meeting in Niagara Falls this week.

And greenhouse vegetable grower Jan VanderHout will serve another one-year term as chair of the OFVGA. READ MORE
Published in Associations
February 23, 2018, Niagara Falls, Ont – Apple and lavender grower Harold Schooley and crop protection specialist Craig Hunter are the winners of the 2018 Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA) Industry Award of Merit.

It’s the first time in the organization’s history that two winners were selected in the same year. The awards were presented recently at the OFVGA annual banquet in Niagara Falls.

Schooley has farmed in Norfolk County since the mid-1970s, growing apples and more recently adding lavender production to his family’s operation. He joined the OFVGA board of directors as chair of the research section in 2004, a role he has held until the section was retired this year.

“Growers rely on research to help advance the industry and we appreciate Harold’s many years of service on our behalf to ensure we get the research we need to grow our markets and maintain our competitiveness,” says Jan VanderHout, OFVGA chair. “Harold’s insights and expertise have been valued additions, both to our board table and to the fruit and vegetable industry as a whole.”

During his tenure as research section chair, Schooley reviewed hundreds of research proposals for industry relevance, attended countless research-related meetings and events, and represented the grower viewpoint during research priority setting exercises. He is a board member and past chair of Ontario Agri-Food Technologies, an active member of the Norfolk Fruit Growers, and was previously involved with the now-defunct Ontario Apple Marketing Commission.

Schooley is also a past recipient of the Golden Apple Award, which recognizes individuals for outstanding contributions to the apple industry. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture and a Masters’ in Plant Pathology, both from the University of Guelph, and lives with his wife Jan on their third generation family orchard near Simcoe.

Hunter has dedicated his career to crop protection, spending 30 years with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) before joining the OFVGA to work on behalf of horticulture growers and becoming an industry-renowned expert in the process.

“As growers we’ve been very fortunate to have Craig’s skills and expertise at our disposal to help ensure access to new crop protection materials and keep old ones available,” says Charles Stevens, OFVGA crop protection chair. “He is a valued and respected resource in global crop protection circles and his efforts on behalf of growers have been invaluable to our industry.”

Hunter helped establish the Pest Management Centre in 2003, Canada’s hub for improving access to newer, safer pesticides as well as promoting novel production practices that reduce agriculture’s reliance on pesticides, and was also instrumental in helping start the Ontario Pesticide Education Program more than 30 years ago.

He’s the longest serving member of the provincial Ontario Pesticide Advisory Committee, chairs the national Minor Use Priority Setting meetings, and is a driving force behind the Global Minor Use Summits that are working towards global registration for crop protection products. Hunter lives in Simcoe with his wife, Jane, and is a graduate of the University of Guelph, holding a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and a Masters’ in Environmental Biology.

The OFVGA Award of Merit is presented annually to an individual or an organization that has made outstanding contributions to the fruit and vegetable industry.
Published in Associations
February 22, 2018, Niagara Falls, Ont – The Canadian Government recently announced an investment of more than $175,000 to the Fruit and Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corporation (DRC) in providing services to Canadian buyers and sellers of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The announcement was made during the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention in Niagara Falls.

The DRC, which acts as a third party financial dispute resolution body for fruit and vegetable growers, received an investment of $118,795 to deliver an outreach and education initiative on the impending Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) and regulations. An additional $58,807 was provided under the same program to support the industry to initiate work toward updating the Canadian grade standards for fresh fruits and vegetables in order to reflect current market and consumer preferences.

"We are very pleased the Government of Canada has provided support to the fruit and vegetable sector for the DRC’s role in the trade and commerce portion of the SFCA as well as modernization of the Grade Standards Compendium for fresh fruit and vegetables,” said Fred Webber, president and CEO of the DRC. “The playing field will be truly leveled when everyone knows the rights and responsibilities associated with the proposed regulatory requirement for a DRC membership. Furthermore, the grade standards play an essential role in evaluating and resolving grade and condition disputes fairly and efficiently.”

"This investment will help provide clarity and confidence to farmers across Canada and ensure Canada continues to produce the same high quality fruit and vegetables to Canadians and the world," added Rebecca Lee, executive director of the Canadian Horticultural Council.
Published in Federal
February 20, 2018, East Lansing, MI – This article provides a brief summary of some of the research being produced by some of the institutions participating in a project titled “Management of Brown Marmorated Stink Bug in U.S. Specialty Crops” funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). It is not a detailed summary of all the work being conducted within this project, but provides highlights from areas of the project that may be of interest to growers.

Researchers continue to track the movement and abundance of brown marmorated stink bugs. The largest populations and the most widespread damage to tree fruits is in the Mid-Atlantic region. In Michigan, we have seen brown marmorated stink bug numbers slowly build and currently the majority of the population is found in the southern third of the state with the highest numbers in the southern two tiers of counties. Damaging levels of brown marmorated stink bug do occur in localized areas north of this area and have produced fruit injury on individual farms north of Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the Ridge area.

The information required to detect the movement and relative numbers comes from trapping. A great deal of effort has gone into finding the most effective trap and lure. A variety of trap styles exist, but the pyramid trap baited with an attractant lure has been the standard way to detect brown marmorated stink bugs. Lures continue to be improved and the current standard is a two-part lure comprised of an aggregation pheromone and an attractant from a related stink bug.

A side-by-side comparison of the pyramid trap with an easier to use clear sticky trap on a 4-foot wooden stake using the same two lures has shown that the pyramid trap catches more stink bug adults than the clear sticky trap early in the season, and more adults and nymphs late in the season, but similar numbers mid-season. Importantly, the number of captured stink bugs on the clear sticky traps is positively correlated with the catch from the pyramid traps, which means the clear sticky traps could replace the pyramid traps and be used to determine presence, relative numbers and seasonal movement.

The pyramid trap was improved by replacing the dichlorvos strip killing agent with a piece of pyrethroid-impregnated netting. The pyrethroid in this case is deltamethrin. The netting is similar to mosquito netting used in malaria prevention programs and is commonly referred to as long-lasting insecticide netting. The benefits are that it lasts for the entire trapping season and is much safer to handle due to its low mammalian toxicity. Long-lasting insecticide netting also shows promise as a means of trapping brown marmorated stink bugs.

The most promising biological control agent continues to be a wasp parasitoid (parasites do not kill their host, but parasitoids do kill them) known as the samurai wasp, Trissolcus japonicas. This tiny wasp puts its own eggs into the stink bug’s eggs, and the developing wasp larvae use the stink bug egg for food until they emerge. In Asia, where brown marmorated stink bug originally came from, 60 to 90 percent of the eggs are parasitized by this wasp. Researchers in the U.S. have determined that the wasp highly prefers brown marmorated stink bug eggs over one of our native stink bugs eggs, spined soldier bug, so they should have little-to-no impact on them.

The USDA has yet to approve the general release of these wasps, but it is under review and could potentially happen at any time. Interestingly, like brown marmorated stink bugs, this wasp has been transported across the ocean. To date, populations have been detected in some Mid-Atlantic states and the Pacific Northwest and are slowly spreading on their own. However, if permission would be given by the USDA, they could be mass-reared and released where they would produce the greatest benefit.

Additionally, other brown marmorated stink bug predators and parasites, ones native to the U.S., have been identified and are being evaluated for their effectiveness. The particular insects attacking brown marmorated stink bugs vary according to habitat in each area. So far, the incidence of attack for these homegrown natural enemies of brown marmorated stink bugs is low.

Another area of interest is looking for ways to protect natural enemies from the negative effects of control procedures used against brown marmorated stink bugs. By carefully managing insecticide use, natural enemies may be preserved. One way to manage insecticide use is by establishing threshold levels for the pest. Determining an accurate threshold level requires testing over several years and in many orchard environments.

Research in West Virginia apple orchards has shown that a threshold of 10 brown marmorated stink bugs per trap can lower insecticide use by 40 percent compared to a grower standard program. A different trapping study compared brown marmorated stink bug captures in traps placed adjacent to wooded areas next to orchards to traps placed within orchards. The interior placement resulted in fewer nymphs captured, but adult catch was similar. However, there is still no clear relationship between the number of brown marmorated stink bugs captured in a trap and the amount of injury this level will cause in the orchard.

Insecticide assays in North Carolina showed that out of four Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI)-approved materials – Entrust, Neemix, Pyganic, Azera – Entrust was the most harmful to two native parasitoid wasp species, even when exposed to 0.1-times the field rate. However, when exposed to residues of sugar-laced pesticides, only the lowest rate of Neemix had no impact.

In an Oregon study, more than half of the wasps exposed to dry residues of Actara, Asana or Admire Pro died within an hour of exposure. After 24 hours, mortality was greater than 75 per cent for those materials and for Entrust and Exirel, but not for Altacor.

A promising management tactic is attract-and-kill using pheromone-baited perimeter trees that receive either a regular insecticide application or have long-lasting insecticide netting within the canopy. Seven- and 14-day spray intervals using attract-and-kill or perimeter sprays were compared to 10 adults per trap (cumulative) threshold sprays of two alternate row middle applications and to a control. If the cumulative threshold level was met in the attract-and-kill or in the threshold spray plots, it also triggered two consecutive alternate row middle sprays.

Fruit injury was significantly reduced in the apple blocks using the perimeter sprays on seven- or 14-day intervals in the blocks using attract-and-kill with sprays at seven- and 14-day intervals or with long-lasting insecticide netting, and in blocks treated after reaching threshold levels of brown marmorated stink bugs, compared to the grower standard. This suggests perimeter sprays are an effective management tactic to employ against brown marmorated stink bugs.

Long-lasting insecticide netting placed in attract-and-kill trees in a vertical orientation killed more brown marmorated stink bugs than when the fabric was oriented horizontally. The level of injury to peaches and apples under grower standard programs was similar to the injury found when just orchard perimeters consisting of the exterior row plus one row toward the interior were sprayed. This did not hold for peaches if the orchard was 10 acres or more in size.

Another use of long-lasting insecticide netting is to drape a 5-foot by 5-foot section of it over a pole or fence and attach an attractant to the netting. Several of these are placed on the orchard perimeter between woods and the orchard. Brown marmorated stink bugs attracted to the lure come into contact with the pesticide in the netting and die. This may allow for interception of the adults before they enter the orchard resulting in less fruit damage.

Multi-state research efforts allow researchers to quickly acquire information that would take individual states or regions many years by themselves. Most of these experiments will be repeated in 2018 and new ones will be added as we continue to grow the knowledge base that allows us to successfully meet the challenges that brown marmorated stink bugs bring to the tree fruit industry.
Published in Research
February 20, 2018, Kelowna, BC – It’s not something politicians like to talk about but Okanagan fruit growers say it’s something that needs to be addressed.

The B.C. Fruit Growers Association says it’s time governments begin talking about the possibility of a deer cull because the deer are destroying their orchards. READ MORE
Published in Associations
February 20, 2018, Victoria, BC – Apple, cherry and other tree fruit growers throughout the province will be able to update aging equipment and infrastructure while increasing their marketing and research efforts thanks to a new $5-million Tree Fruit Competitiveness Fund announced recently at the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association annual general meeting.

The fund will be open to tree fruit growers, producers, and processors to support three key areas of priority:
  • Research: cultivar, disease and pest research.
  • Marketing: export market opportunities and market development research.
  • Infrastructure: sector-based infrastructure modernization such as new equipment.
“This funding is so important to the future of our industry,” said Fred Steele, outgoing president of the B.C. Fruit Growers Association. “We need help controlling new invasive pests like the brown marmorated stinkbug, and marketing is an area where we need to invest in new varieties.”

“This funding will also help with our very successful replant program. This investment, at a time when we are challenged in the marketplace, will ensure that we continue to make progress that leads to a bright future for the tree fruit sector.”

Portions of the fund can also be used to address any oversubscription of the B.C. government’s Tree Fruit Replant Program over the next four years. This year, the province provided an additional $300,000 in funding for the replant program, to meet the demand from tree fruit growers.

“This fund will help family-run orchards and the sector as a whole with advancements that make B.C. tree fruit more competitive in the marketplace,” said Agriculture Minister Lana Popham. “The $5-million investment reflects this government’s commitment to partner with B.C. growers to help modernize their practices, and help them share their great-tasting apples, cherries and other fruits, with more customers here at home and around the world.”

The B.C. government will be engaging with the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association and other partners to set up the fund and establish the process for awarding funding. It is anticipated the fund will be active for the next three to four years.
Published in Provinces
February 20, 2018, Kelowna, BC – The outgoing president of the B.C. Fruit Growers Association painted a picture of an industry that has bounced back after some very dark days.

Fred Steele, stepping down after four years at the helm, told the 129th BCFGA convention in Kelowna, painted a picture of hope and prosperity in his final address to the membership. READ MORE
Published in Associations
February 20, 2018, Kelowna, BC – B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham offered some hope of relief for Okanagan fruit growers concerning the minimum wage increases.

Popham said she has heard “loud and clear” about the concerns of the minimum wage being increased beyond $15/hour as of June 2021. READ MORE
Published in Provinces
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