Production

Aug. 17, 2012 - Cranberries are already known to be rich in fiber, and to provide vitamin C and potassium, both of which are essential nutrients. But the tart, colorful berries are also a source of natural compounds known as polyphenols. These compounds have been the focus of a series of studies by former U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) chemist Ronald L. Prior and his colleagues.

Previously with the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) at the Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center in Little Rock, Prior is now an adjunct professor of food science at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency.

In one investigation, the researchers closely examined the kinds and amounts of compounds in cranberry pomace—the stems, skins, seeds, and pulp that are left over when the berries are pressed to make juice or canned products. According to Prior, cranberry processors are looking for new, value-added uses for these byproducts.

Much is already known about the major polyphenols in fresh cranberries. But the Arkansas study was apparently one of the first to extensively investigate and document the kinds and amounts of major cranberry pomace polyphenols.

The researchers used sophisticated analytical procedures to measure the molecular weight of pomace constituents and, from that, to determine their identity. If appropriate reference standards were available, the quantity of the constituent was determined.

Among other findings, the team determined that the pomace contained appreciable levels of flavonols, a class of polyphenols that includes, for example, quercetin and myricetin.

Fresh whole cranberries are already known to contain high levels of flavonols—more than most berries and, in fact, more than most fruits or vegetables. But the research was the first to show that nearly half of the total flavonol content of whole berries was left behind in the pomace.

Prior collaborated on the research with Luke R. Howard of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, and with food technologist Brittany L. White, formerly at the university and now with ARS in Raleigh, N.C.

Published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, this 2010 study is still the most up-to-date analysis of its kind for cranberry pomace. The findings are a readily accessible reference for medical and nutrition researchers, food processors, and others, Prior noted.

Read more about this research in the August 2012 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Published in Spraying

Aug. 17, 2012, Toronto, ON - The new version of the popular Ontariofresh.ca website was released today bringing more functionality and enhanced features to users. Connecting buyers and sellers of Ontario food, Ontariofresh.ca is a vital tool in finding new business partners to meet the growing demand for local food.

The new Ontariofresh.ca website allows local food buyers and sellers to search for products, announce the availability of seasonal products, and post contract opportunities by using a sophisticated search function. The website is also a source for industry information and stories from local food champions.

Ontariofresh.ca is a game-changer that enables Ontario to capitalize on the demand for local food,” said Burkhard Mausberg, CEO, Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation. “Whether it’s Niagara’s tender fruit, the Holland Marsh’s vegetables, or award winning VQA wines, Ontariofresh.ca is helping connect the business of local food.”

Launched as a beta site in November 2011, the website has grown to over 1,200 registered industry professionals. The website serves as a valuable economic tool among food service businesses and food producers to help meet the growing demand for Ontario food. In a survey conducted among members in early 2012, 20% of respondents had made connections and half of those reported sales resulting directly from the website.

Members on the site include hospitals and other public institutions serving millions of meals each year. In addition, some of the largest food service operators and distributors in North America like Dana Hospitality and Gordon Food Services are utilizing the site to make business connections, along with innovative food processors like VG Meats and farms of all sizes and commodities.

“Before this website was in place, it could be very difficult to locate local producers. It allows you to search for specific products and size of operation - it’s like Facebook for food, putting a face to people that are buying and selling local,” said Kelly Hughes, Local Food Procurement Officer, Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Create a new or update an existing profile by October 15th and be entered to win a weekend getaway. For more information visit Ontariofresh.ca.

About Ontariofresh.ca

Ontariofresh.ca is a project of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation and is supported by the Greenbelt Fund, with funding from the Ontario government.

About Ontario’s Greenbelt and the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation

Ontario’s Greenbelt is over 1.8 million acres of green space, farmland, vibrant communities, forests, wetlands, and watersheds – all permanently  protected by world-leading legislation. In return the Greenbelt gives back $9.1 billion in economic benefits and $2.6 billion in ecosystem services annually.

The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation is working to help farmers in the Greenbelt be more successful; to protect and enhance natural features; and to strengthen local economies. To learn more about the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, please visit Greenbelt.ca.

Published in Marketing

Aug. 16, 2012, Regina, SK - The future of Canadian agriculture is bright and Farm Credit Canada (FCC) is in a strong position to help make it even brighter, according to presenters at FCC's annual public meeting in Alma, Ontario, on August 15. To view FCC's annual public meeting presentations, visit www.fcc.ca/annualpublicmeeting.

"Agriculture enriches our world and holds great promise," FCC President and CEO Greg Stewart told an audience of customers, partners and stakeholders. "The industry is fuelled by hard-working and optimistic producers across Canada. The agriculture and agri-food system contributes $130 billion to our economy each year and one in eight jobs. FCC is proud to help our customers succeed," Stewart added.

Chief Financial Officer Rick Hoffman provided highlights of FCC's financial results for the 2011-12 fiscal year. "FCC continues to successfully fulfill its mandate by providing financing and other services to the industry," Hoffman reported. "FCC is financially strong and stable, which ensures that we can serve agriculture over the long term."

Financial highlights:

  • Loan disbursements of $7.1 billion
  • Total portfolio growth of $1.8 billion (to $23.2 billion)
  • Net income of $565.1 million, which ensures FCC remains self-sustaining and able to reinvest in agriculture
  • FCC paid a dividend of $17.5 million to its sole shareholder, the Government of Canada

FCC Board Chair Gill Shaw provided an overview of FCC's governance model and cultural practices, which guide employee behaviour at work and in the community. "FCC is built on a base of solid business and strong values. We believe in working together and giving back."

As one of Imagine Canada's Caring Companies, FCC gives one per cent of its profits to charities and non-profit organizations.

Stewart also discussed FCC's support for Agriculture More Than Ever, a multi-year cause to change perceptions about agriculture. "Through a recent survey of 4,500 producers and agri-business operators, we learned that 80 per cent feel their farm or business will be better off in five years, and 70 per cent would recommend a career in agriculture."

"The Canadian general public, however, has a much different perception of agriculture," Stewart said. "The Agriculture More Than Ever campaign will help bridge this divide and promote the value and vitality of Canadian agriculture. Agriculture is the backbone of a strong and healthy Canada. The bottom line is that agriculture matters to Canada."

According to Statistics Canada's 2011 Census of Agriculture, 8.2 per cent of farm operators are under age 35. FCC supports them at every stage with financing, learning opportunities and more. In 2011-12, young farmers (under age 40) borrowed $1.9 billion from FCC to finance their future.

Stewart thanked FCC's 100,000-plus customers across the country. "We never forget that customers are the reason we exist. We show them our appreciation by tailoring our offerings to the unique needs of agriculture, and contributing to the communities where our customers live and work."

"There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about the future of agriculture," Stewart concluded.

About Farm Credit Canada

As Canada's leading agriculture lender, FCC is advancing the business of agriculture. With a healthy portfolio of more than $23 billion and 19 consecutive years of portfolio growth, FCC is strong and stable - committed to serving the industry through all cycles. FCC provides financing, insurance, software, learning programs and other business services to producers, agribusinesses and agri-food operations. FCC employees are passionate about agriculture and committed to the success of customers and the industry. For more information, visit www.fcc.ca.

Published in Federal

Aug. 14, 2012, Regina, SK - Widespread drought in the United States could create opportunities as well as challenges for Canadian producers, according to Farm Credit Canada's Senior Agriculture Economist Jean-Philippe Gervais.

"Canadian producers are certainly not immune from the impacts the near-record drought could have on commodity prices, input costs and industries connected to agriculture," said Gervais, after reviewing the latest United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) drought update. "The ripple effect is already impacting some commodity prices and it matters to all Canadians because one in eight jobs in Canada is connected to agriculture and the agri-food system."

The U.S. accounts for nearly 40% of world corn production and 35% of world soybean production. Significant changes in U.S. production therefore have a major impact on world prices for these commodities and, in turn, all agriculture commodity prices. This year's U.S. drought is the most extensive since 1956.

According to the USDA, the decline in the corn and soybean crop is unprecedented. The average national corn yield is expected to be 123 bushels per acre or 10.8 billion bushels nationally, down from July's forecast of 146 bushels per acre or 13 billion bushels. This represents a decrease of approximately 20%. Projections for soybean yields were also reduced. At the same time, price projections for all feed grains were raised substantially.

Gervais mentioned that corn and soybeans have already experienced price spikes, which benefits Canadian producers in general, as well as Western Canadian farmers who grow canola and wheat. These commodities are seen as substitutes for corn and soybeans.

Conditions remain favourable for most commodities throughout Canada, with the some exceptions. Dry conditions and poor soil moisture may reduce corn and soybean production in parts of Ontario and Quebec. Some producers in the Prairies are dealing with excess moisture and disease. Thankfully, most Canadian crop producers are facing a positive outlook. "At times like this, when crop producers are benefiting from higher prices, they should look at their financial management plan to see if accelerating debt repayment is possible," Gervais said.

With a more scarce traditional feed supply, costs for feed are escalating, which adversely affects livestock producers."For Canadian cattle producers, it will likely be a case of short-term pain followed by long-term gain," said Gervais, who noted that cattle prices should rebound over the long haul as U.S. producers reduce herd sizes due to the drought conditions, which happened in Texas last year. The impact of higher feed costs on Canadian hog producers is compounded by the challenges faced by the industry in recent years.

When facing challenges posed by higher input costs, planning and execution are key. "Risk management tools, such as price contracts and hedging feed costs, can help make the best of a difficult situation," Gervais said. "Another strategy used by hog producers is to maximize feed efficiency by adjusting diet formulations and ensuring that feeding equipment is working accurately. Producers may want to revisit their planned marketing weight of pigs in relation to weight discounts and feed prices. They should also think about running the numbers to see what makes sense for their operations. This is a great example of the complexity of production and marketing."

The market impacts of adverse weather events are usually short-lived, but Gervais notes that the current drought has occurred at a time when stocks were already below historical average levels. "It is more important than ever to determine what your risk tolerance is, and stick to your marketing plan," he said.

As Canada's leading agriculture lender, FCC is advancing the business of agriculture. With a healthy portfolio of more than $23 billion and 19 consecutive years of portfolio growth, FCC is strong and stable - committed to serving the industry through all cycles. FCC provides financing, insurance, software, learning programs and other business services to producers, agribusinesses and agri-food operations. FCC employees are passionate about agriculture and committed to the success of customers and the industry. For more information, visit www.fcc.ca.

Published in Companies

August 13, 2012 – Research performed by the European research project Veg-i-Trade has found that lettuce growers can reduce their irrigation use in the field by 25 per cent. According to the research results, using less water increases the shelf life of fresh-cut lettuce, reduces farming costs, improves sustainability and anticipates the scarcity of water due to climate change.

Climate change can lead to water scarcity and higher temperatures. Knowing that 70 per cent of consumed water is used in agriculture, one of the challenges for growers is to reduce water use by making water management more efficient. The department of food science and technology at the Spanish research institute CEBAS-CSIC has investigated the influence of different irrigation water doses on the quality and safety characteristics of fresh-cut lettuce, more specifically Romaine and Iceberg lettuce. Over three years, different field trials were performed at an experimental farm run by Primaflor, an important lettuce growers in Europe. Different doses of irrigation water were used: 50 per cent and 25 per cent more water, 50 per cent and 25 per cent less water, and the regular amount.

The results show that using 25 per cent less irrigation water prolongs the storage period (shelf life), decreases browning on the cut edge of lettuce pieces, and preserves microbiological quality. The opposite effects were found when 25 per cent and 50 per cent more irrigation water was used.

The study also demonstrated a cost reduction of just over $300 per hectare per year due to optimized water management.

The research is part of the European project Veg-i-Trade, which studies the possible impact of globalization and climate change on the food safety of fresh produce. The project is coordinated by the Department Food Safety and Food Quality of Ghent University (Belgium) and has partners from universities, research institutes, and large industrial partners in 10 different countries.

Published in Food Safety

August 9, 2012, Guelph, Ont – The Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Growers’ Association has issued a pest alert for spotted wing drosophila.

The spotted wing drosophila (SWD) is an invasive vinegar fly from Asia that was first identified in California in 2008. Since then, it has rapidly spread throughout most fruit producing regions of North America and several European countries.

Surveys coordinated by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) in 2011 and 2012 detected this pest across southern Ontario. Environmental conditions including a mild winter have favoured the survival and seasonal population build-up of SWD in 2012.

Unlike most vinegar (small fruit) flies that lay their eggs in damaged or decaying fruit, SWD females attack healthy immature fruit that is beginning to ripen. As a result, affected fruit contain eggs or larvae at harvest. Injury to fruit caused from oviposition of eggs under the skin of fruit also allows the entry of plant pathogens that can promote rapid breakdown.

Crops at risk include tender fruit (cherry, peach, nectarine, plum, apricot, other), berry crops (raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, strawberry, sea buckthorn, other) and some grape varieties (primarily table grapes). While early crops may escape injury due to lower population pressure, SWD numbers build as the season progresses, making late harvested crops such as fall raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and day-neutral strawberries at high risk. Growers in southern Ontario should assume SWD is present in their area and should be using several management techniques to reduce economic injury.

SWD is a manageable pest. Important practices include harvesting early, clean and often, as well as cull pile management. Wild raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, mulberry, honeysuckle, dogwood and other non-crop hosts near field borders act as reservoirs of SWD, and their management may be warranted to limit migration into crops.

There are several insecticides registered as Emergency Uses for 2012; make sure to rotate between chemical classes and watch for label restrictions and PHIs. OMAFRA has developed web-based resources where growers can obtain more information on SWD including a real-time map of pest activity.

For more information visit www.ontario.ca/spottedwing or the following links:

2012 Trap Catch Data (interactive map) http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/swd-catches2012.htm



Monitoring for SWD http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/swd-monitor.htm

Management http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/swd-management.htm



Emergency Use Registrations http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/swd-registrations.htm

Published in Insects

Aug. 8, 2012 - High school students considering a career in agriculture in the next five years should focus on acquiring marketing, management and other business skills according to a new cross-Canada survey conducted by Farm Credit Canada (FCC) and Agriculture in the Classroom Canada.

Approximately 2,000 FCC Vision Panel members – producers and agribusiness owners across Canada – were asked in April 2012 to list the skills they believe young people need to be successful in agriculture. In addition to marketing, management and business skills, respondents also identified knowledge, understanding of agriculture, and technology as priorities for young people who want to work in the industry.

Producers are currently enjoying high prices, which may represent a short-term spike. The long-term economic outlook, however, looks positive for well-educated, young people venturing into the industry. World farm commodity prices are expected to remain high over the next decade, fuelled by high demand and from rapid income growth in developing countries, according to a recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the United Nations' food agency.

"Given that one in eight jobs in Canada are in the agri-food industry, there are a lot of opportunities for young people," says Greg Stewart, FCC President and CEO. "As the industry grows in complexity, so does the need for great business acumen. As Canada's leading agriculture lender, we know this very well at FCC and that's why we offer value-added learning programs that focus on business management."

FCC sponsors learning events across the country and produces informative podcasts and YouTube videos on farm management practices and industry trends.

FCC is also working in partnership with Agriculture in the Classroom Canada, a national group focused on promoting agriculture education and awareness in schools across Canada. For more information, visit www.aitc.ca.

"Agriculture in the Classroom representatives will be able to use this information to guide the future direction of career resources and programs," says Colleen Smith, Executive Director of Ontario Agri-Food Education Inc., representing Agriculture in the Classroom in Ontario. "We believe it's important to share the research results publicly so young people will consider a career in agriculture, know what skills to focus on and understand the breadth of opportunity that exists in the sector."

When asked about skills needed to be successful in agriculture, producers offered the following comments:

"Knowledge of computer skills: word processing, invoicing, email, social media; ag equipment computer monitor knowledge." – Crop producer

"Education – must have the intellectual skills well established as training never ends." – Beef producer

"Knowledge of the work, financing and management it takes to run a farm nowadays." – Crop producer

"Scientific and business skills - required to evolve agriculture into a strong, technically based industry." Horticulture producer

About Farm Credit Canada

As Canada's leading agriculture lender, FCC is advancing the business of agriculture. With a healthy portfolio of more than $23 billion and 19 consecutive years of portfolio growth, FCC is strong and stable – committed to serving the industry through all cycles. FCC provides financing, insurance, software, learning programs and other business services to producers, agribusinesses and agri-food operations. FCC employees are passionate about agriculture and committed to the success of customers and the industry. As one of Imagine Canada's Caring Companies, FCC gives one per cent of its profits to charities and not-for-profit organizations. For more information, visit www.fcc.ca.

Published in Provinces

August 7, 2012, Bedeque, PEI – The P.E.I. Bag Company is almost ready to launch a new product, a 10-pound Automatic Potato Bagger.

The bagger is set to be released this fall, in association with YoungCo Manufacturing and the Thompson Potato Company. READ MORE

Published in Marketing

August 7, 2012 – B.C. potato farmers at Across the Creek Organics in Pemberton Valley are busy with the start of the 2012 harvest.

Potatoes harvested from the farm are being trucked once a week to Pemberton Distillery where they are used to produce Schramm Vodka, an organic potato vodka. READ MORE

Published in Fruit

August 7, 2012, Montague, PEI — The small amount of rain received in P.E.I. in the past week may be too little too late for the province’s potato crop.

Some farmers say another two inches is needed just to return to normal moisture levels for this time of year. READ MORE

Published in Research

Aug. 7, 2012 - Many agricultural colleges in the United States are seeing an increase in enrollment, as student believe they offer a clear path to employment.

According to an article from the USA Today, the boom is due to its envionmentally friendly view and provides valuable skills to combat global hunger and obesity. The newspaper reports that even with the large increase in enrollment, colleges cannot meet the industry demand for graduates.

"We are definitely in growth mode, and agriculture is a bright spot in the economy," said Cindy Heser, DuPont Pionerr's senior human resources manager. "We really need people to help us meet those world challenges."

To learn more about the substantial increase in agriculture program enrollment in US. colleges, read the entire article on USA Today.

Published in Companies

Aug. 7, 2012 - The recent Canadian Census of Agriculture revealed the continued trend toward fewer farms operated by older farmers. In a paper released by the George Morris Centre, authors Larry Martin and Al Mussell combine the census data with data on total and net operating returns to show the significance of the trend toward larger farms.

“Farms with annual sales over a half million dollars now make up a little less than 15% of the farms, but almost 70% of the total sales in agriculture” says Martin. “On average, these farms have over $5 million in assets and about $1.3 million in debt.  Much of this change is due to changes in machinery and other technology that allow people to do more. Part is a natural result of successful entrepreneurs who want to grow. The financial risk borne by the owners is huge, especially with ever greater market volatility.  As they evolve toward these new structures, operators need continuously improving management skills to deal with the inherent complexity and risk.”

Mussell adds, “Most government programs are designed as “one size fits all” and that size is the middle, which is disappearing. The strategies, risks and issues facing the various segments of primary agriculture are very different.  It seems appropriate to focus on designing policies and programs that are consistent with the evolving structure.”

The paper, “Canadian Farms Becoming Larger with Greater Capital Investment,” is available on the George Morris Centre’s website (www.georgemorris.org).

About the George Morris Centre

The George Morris Centre is a national, independent, economic research institute that focusses on the agriculture and food industry. Areas of research include:  trade, regulation, cost of production, food safety, market analysis, agricultural research, environment, competitiveness and corporate strategy. For more information, please visit www.georgemorris.org.

Published in Federal

August 3, 2012, Ottawa, Ont – An Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) cherry cultivar that has led to number of new cherry varieties was honoured today for its “sweet” success . The American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS), during its annual conference, presented AAFC with the award for Outstanding Fruit Cultivar Award 2012 for the Sweetheart cherry cultivar.

“(The) government is proud to support internationally-recognized research and innovation in cherry breeding,” said Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. “Cultivars developed by AAFC breeding programs have allowed growers to gain a top-notch reputation in the world marketplace as producers of high-quality crops. This boost to the cherry industry has helped stimulate and diversify job creation, benefiting our overall economy.”

AAFC has developed germplasm that is attractive to today's growers and consumers alike. Fruit quality is of key but even more value is added by self-fertility and late maturity. These two attributes mean that fruit is set even when the spring seasons are cooler than usual, and that new, late-season markets can be tapped when conventional sources have disappeared from retailers’ shelves.

The Sweetheart cherry cultivar originated from a cross between Van and Newstar cultivars made in 1975 at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre (PARC) in Summerland, B.C. Retired AAFC researcher Dr. Lane and his team developed Sweetheart as part of an ongoing breeding program to develop sweet cherry cultivars with improved productivity and quality. Officially released in 1994, Sweetheart has been an important parent in the breeding program leading to a number of new cherry varieties, including Staccato, Sentennial, and Sovereign.

“I nominated Sweetheart for this award because it is a very good example of how innovation plays an important role in the agriculture sector's success.” said Dr. Denise Neilsen, a research scientist at AAFC PARC in Summerland.

 “The cultivars which have been released from AAFC's sweet cherry program have had a tremendous, lasting impact on the cherry industry here in British Columbia as well as around the world.” said Dr. Cheryl Hampson, the current cherry breeder at AAFC PARC in Summerland. “It’s an honour for me to be following in the footsteps of some of the world’s best sweet cherry breeders.”

Along with other AAFC-developed cultivars (such as Lapins and Staccato), Sweetheart cherries have helped to revive the sweet cherry industry in British Columbia. Late maturing cherries of exceptional quality allow producers and distributors to capture valuable market share at the end of the season, when all the other cherry varieties have finished.

Cherries are considered to be one of the most important tree fruit crops in British Columbia, and a significant amount of the crop is exported to the United States, Asia and Europe. British Columbia cherry exports accounted for C$500,000 yearly for most of the 1990s. That number has since grown to almost $40 million in 2011. The 'Sweetheart' cultivar is also extensively planted in sweet cherry regions around the world.

The American Society for Horticultural Science's Distinguished Achievement Award is given to encourage and recognize outstanding achievement of a specialized nature consistent with the overall objectives of the Society. The Outstanding Fruit Cultivar Award recognizes a modern fruit introduction having a significant impact on the fruit industry.

Published in Federal

August 3, 2012 – The plant hormone ethylene lets green tomatoes ripen even after the harvest, whereas the closely related chili peppers show no such effect. Researchers from the Max-Planck-Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology wanted to understand the reason for that and compared gene expression levels and metabolic pathways of both plant species. Understanding the ripening process is important to minimize the amount of food that festers on the way from the producer to the consumer.

Tomato breeders scored a coup several years ago when they identified tomatoes with a genetic defect that made the fruits mature very slowly, even under the influence of the phytohormone ethylene. Traders and growers were delighted as it gave them more time to transport the crop, initially still green, from where it was harvested to where it would be sold. At the stores, the tomatoes could then be treated with ethylene to bring them to maturity. Other fruits, like peppers, grapes and strawberries, generally do not mature after picking; they need to be harvested when ripe and consumed as soon as possible. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam investigated why ethylene causes some plants to mature after picking and has absolutely no effect on others.

In order to make it easier to compare the metabolism and the gene expression level of climacteric and non-climacteric plants, the scientists concentrated their work on two closely related species: the climacteric tomato and the non-climacteric habanero chilli pepper, both of the nightshade family. The team studied the plant metabolism at different times of day, before and after the so-called breaker point, the day on which the fruit begins ripening, as evidenced by a visible change of colour.

What happens with tomatoes is that – on this very day – they release huge quantities of ethylene, experiencing what is known as “ethylene shock.” The gaseous phytohormone ethylene activates its own synthesis as soon as the plant comes into external contact with ethylene. That is why green bananas turn yellow quicker when they are stored next to apples, as apples represent an excellent source of ethylene.

Two enzymes are instrumental in the synthesis of ethylene. These are called ACC synthase and ACC oxidase. During the ripening process, climacteric tomato fruits produce much more of these enzymes, which causes ethylene levels to rise continuously. The ethylene then sets a cascade of signals in motion in the tomatoes, causing the fruits to ripen. Green chloroplasts convert to colourful chromoplasts, the hard cell wall components break down, sugars are formed and the nutrient content changes

Chili peppers do not show any reaction to heightened ethylene concentrations

“It looks like the ethylene has absolutely no influence on the gene expression or the metabolism of habenero chilli peppers,” says group leader Alisdair Fernie, who studied the fruits’ metabolism and gene activity with his team.

Surprisingly, though, genes lower down the ethylene signal chain showed heightened levels of activity.

“The genes for breaking down the plant cell wall or the carotenoid biosynthesis during the plant's normal process of ripening were produced in greater quantities in the tomatoes and peppers alike,” explains Fernie.

The molecule that triggers the ripening process in peppers and other non-climacteric fruits is something that the scientists are still searching fo

Published in Research

Aug. 2, 2012, Toronto, ON - In advance of Food Day Canada celebrations on August 4th, a new BMO survey underscores Canadians' commitment to local food. The BMO study suggests that most Canadians try to buy local products when they shop for groceries and are willing to pay a premium to put local food on their kitchen tables. On average, Canadians are willing to pay 16 per cent more for domestic fruits and vegetables and 19 per cent more for Canadian meat products.

The study also revealed that:

  • Canadians are most likely to buy Canadian food products when grocery shopping for vegetables (91 per cent), fruit (86 per cent), poultry (84 per cent), cheese (81 per cent) , and beef (78 per cent).
  • The number one benefit cited for buying Canadian food when grocery shopping is supporting Canadian producers (28 per cent). Freshness (14 per cent), the environment (10 per cent), and safety (9 per cent) are also recognized as top benefits.

"BMO research suggests that Canadians are becoming increasingly loyal to the notion of buying local food, particularly fruits and vegetables, cheese, beef and poultry. Consumers appreciate the quality of food produced by local farm families and recognize the importance of supporting an agricultural sector that accounts for one in eight jobs in Canada," said David Rinneard, National Manager, Agriculture, BMO Bank of Montreal.

The Food Day Canada movement was founded in 2003 by Anita Stewart, a culinary activist. Starting this weekend, 250 restaurants across Canada will offer a special menu with Canada-only selections, and a number of awards will be given out for particularly creative options. There is also a Do-It-Yourself Guide, so no matter where Canadians find themselves - in the kitchen, at the backyard BBQ or a riverside campsite - they can also "Join the Party" and celebrate local food.

"Food Day Canada is the time and place for Canadians to have fun and celebrate local food, the important contributions of local producers to our rich and diverse culinary heritage, our delicious northern bounty and the best managed food system on the planet," said Ms. Stewart, President, Food Day Canada.

"Food safety is a major issue for Canadian consumers and the ability to trace the source of their food to a trusted source is very important to them. Consumers are responding by purchasing produce and other food items from local producers, which is crucial to the health of the local economy as well," said Kenrick Jordan, Senior Economist, BMO Capital Markets.

Regional Trends

Canadians' buy-local orientation is strongest for those food items for which their regions are renowned: in British Columbia, fruit and wine, beef in Alberta and the Prairies, fruits and vegetables Ontario, cheese in Quebec and fish in Atlantic Canada.

  • Ontarians and British Columbians are willing to pay the highest premium for Canadian-made products, in particular fresh fruits and vegetables and meat products.
  • Atlantic Canadians are the most likely to buy Canadian food products when they shop for groceries. This local orientation is most pronounced when it comes to fish (atlantic canada:60 per cent)(canada:53 per cent).
  • Ontario and British Columbia residents are the most likely to buy Canadian when they shop for wine, reflecting the vibrant wine industries in those two provinces.
  • Albertans are the most likely to buy local when they shop for beef (83 per cent).
  • Quebeckers are the most likely to buy their local food from fruit and vegetable stands.

Survey results cited are from online interviews with a random sample of 1,011 Canadians 18 years of age and over, conducted by Pollara between May 18 and May 23. A probability sample of this size would yield a margin of error of +/-3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

BMO's roots in the Canadian agricultural sector date back to 1817, when it first began working with farmers. BMO Bank of Montreal provides customized loan and deposit solutions to Canada's agri-business owners, the single largest core commercial sector that the bank serves. For Canadian businesses, including those in the agriculture and agri-food sectors, looking to innovate, enhance productivity, and grow their business, BMO Bank of Montreal recently announced a credit boost of $10 billion over the next three years

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly-diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $525 billion as at April 30, 2012, and more than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.

Published in Marketing

August 1, 2012, Mississauga, Ont – The fungicide portfolio at BASF Canada Inc. is about to get a lot more interesting with the addition of Xemium. The new active ingredient is a next generation carboxamide and has already received registrations in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States on multiple crops. In Canada, Xemium is registered for a number of row and horticultural crops.

“Xemium has the unique ability to move throughout the plant in a more consistent fashion to prevent diseases before they start,” says Scott Chapman, fungicide and seed solutions marketing manager at BASF Canada. “What’s more, rainfall revives Xemium to give more continuous protection during those critical periods.”

Xemium binds itself to the leaf surface to continuously block cell respiration in fungi for preventative and curative disease control. Not only does Xemium protect areas where it has been applied, but its mobility properties also provide systemic activity to protect parts of the plant that may have been missed during application.

BASF has submitted Xemium for registration worldwide to enhance its global innovation pipeline for fungicides.

Published in Diseases

July 31, 2012 – Albertans interested in learning more about direct market fruit and vegetable production should consider attending the Fruit and Vegetable Field Day at Olds College and area on August 21, 2012.

Whether just beginning to look into fruit and vegetable production, a new grower or someone that has been growing for years, there are plenty of opportunities to learn from other growers during the tour stops over the course of the day.

“Participants can learn to recognize different fruit and vegetable insect and disease pests in the lab in the morning,” says Robert Spencer, horticulture specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. “There will be a tour of the fruit demonstration orchard at Olds College, featuring more than 30 types of different fruit crops. Participants will also have a chance to visit producer operations, including Eagle Creek Farms/Bowden Sun Maze, which features a CSA program, and other direct market production.”

An additional tour stop is being developed, and will also be a great learning opportunity. Participants are responsible for their own transportation to Olds College and between farm operations.

There is no cost for attending, however producers are asked to R.S.V.P. their attendance, as lunch is provided and numbers are needed to help with planning the meal. Participants can register by contacting the Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association at 1-800-661-2642 or email by August 14, 2012.

Published in Research

July 30, 2012, Marysville, CA – Peach growers near Sacramento, Calif., are searching for workers that can pick their peaches before they rot.

One peach producer says he’s losing five per cent of his crop every day because his peaches can’t be picked before they soften and bruise. In desperation, he is going door to door with the help of friends to recruit pickers. READ MORE

Published in Fruit

July 30, 2012 – Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs potato specialist Eugenia Banks is reporting that late blight has not been confirmed in the area of Uxbridge, Ont., as reported in mid-July.

The report was the result of a misdiagnosis.

To date, there are no confirmed reports of late blight in Ontario.

Published in Vegetables

Jul. 27, 2012 - Soybean varieties that thrive even in soggy fields could result from studies by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists. This would help increase profits for Mississippi Delta farmers who can see yield losses as high as 25 percent when they plant soybean crops in rotation with paddy rice.

This work is being conducted by former Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist Tara VanToai, who now works as a collaborator at ARS' Soil Drainage Research Unit in Columbus, Ohio. ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of ensuring international food security.

For more than two decades, VanToai has studied flood tolerance in soybeans in a range of environments, including greenhouses, laboratories, growth chambers, experimental fields and farm fields. She and her colleagues are finding and incorporating genes from non-native soybean varieties in an effort to supplement the narrow genetic base of U.S. soybeans and improve their tolerance to wet soil and associated diseases.

In one study, VanToai used outdoor "screenhouses"—which are greenhouses with screens instead of glass—to assess the flood tolerance of 21 soybean lines. This study included soybean lines native to Vietnam and Cambodia, lines developed via selection by farmers and gardeners, and lines from Australia, China, Japan and Taiwan that were created with modern breeding techniques.

The plants were grown in pots. When each plant was in full bloom, it was placed for two weeks in a bucket of water so that the water level was two inches above the soil surface. The screenhouse tests identified the top three flood-tolerant lines: Nam Vang, which is native to Cambodia; VND2, native to China; and ATF15-1, which is native to Australia. Plants from these three lines grew the tallest and produced the biggest seeds and highest yields. When the study was replicated in flooded experimental fields, the results were the same.

Read more about this work and other research VanToai has conducted on soybean flood tolerance in the July 2012 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Published in Planting

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