Production
Days may be numbered for carbaryl, an insecticide and apple-thinning agent commonly sold under the brand name Sevin by Bayer.

Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulation Agency (PMRA) completed a re-evaluation of carbaryl in 2016, which led to some changes and restrictions on the product label. This included eliminating its use in residential areas plus as an insecticide on some fruit and vegetable crops. Apple thinning has remained on the label but at reduced rates:
  • Maximum seasonal rate of 1.5 kg a.i./ha and an REI of 14 days for hand thinning [high-density trellis production such as spindle or super spindle]
  • Maximum seasonal rate of 1.0 kg a.i./ha and an REI of 17 days for hand thinning [dwarf, semi-dwarf and full-sized trees]
As a result, research is underway to discover a new thinning regime for Canadian apple producers.

“We’re restricted to one application per season with further restrictions on re-entry into the orchard,” explained Dr. John Cline, apple researcher and associate professor at the University of Guelph. “We’re looking for an alternative that works as well as carbaryl.”

He recently shared the initial findings of his work, which he undertook with the assistance of graduate student Michelle Arsenault, during the Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Convention held in Niagara Falls, Ont.

“Apple thinning is something done to prevent over cropping and small fruit,” said Dr. Cline. “When we thin early, we are able to focus more energy resources into the fruit that persist until harvest. When you have larger fruit, harvest efficiencies increase dramatically.”

Hand thinning is the least desirable way of managing crop load because it has the least effect on return bloom and final size at harvest but it is still an option. It also requires a large labour requirement.

“We rely on bio-regulators or chemical thinners as a result,” Dr. Cline said. “We have to remember that fruit drop in early June is a natural process. The tree goes through this process naturally and the bio-regulators are meant to augment it.”

There are a number of bio-regulators registered and these affect the plant metabolism and add to the natural process of fruit drop. The registered products in Canada are Sevin XLR Plus [carbaryl], MaxCel [6BA] and Fruitone [NAA]. The industry is hopeful some alternatives will become available. One product registered in the U.S. is Ethephon or Ethrel, which involves ethylene needed for fruit drop.

Dr. Cline’s research team’s objectives were to determine the optimal concentration of new and existing plant bio-regulators for the thinning of Gala during fruit set. Doing an early spray followed by a second spray was the focus of their work plus what thinners perform the best, and what the final crop load, yield and final size would be.

The first experiment was done on Gala using a hand-thinned control plot and compared to carbaryl and 6BA/MaxCel sprays.

Late frost in 2015 forced the researchers to find another orchard where they applied thinners at the 17 mm stage. The treatment was thought to be ineffective because it was conceivably applied too late. Compared with 2014, they found fruit set was 40 per cent, considered too high for a commercial crop, and 2015 was slightly less than that.

“In 2014, we found that 6BA tank mixed with NAA reduced fruit set by 50 per cent, whereas the ACC compound did not work at all,” Dr. Cline said. “In 2015, 6BA tank mixed with 5ABA and ACC reduced fruit set to a level comparable with carbaryl.”

The crop load at harvest was reduced with thinners in 2015, explained Dr. Cline. The hand thinned was just under three fruits per trunk cross-sectional area while the target was about five to seven, so crop load was light so the trees probably didn’t need the aggressive thinning that might be needed in a heavy crop year.

The researchers tried high and medium rates with the thinners and found a reduction in yield but no effect on quality factors, such as sugars, titratable acidity, starch index and fruit firmness.

Conclusions on the two-year study suggest that at low rates, the ethylene precursors were effective the one year. However, crop loads were light in both years of the study and response could change with a heavier crop. Dr. Cline said the study needs to be repeated over several years to get a more definite answer.

ACC and 5ABA appear to be effective alternatives for Gala if carbaryl is removed from registration, he added.

“I think the results are encouraging.”

In a study working with Gala conducted over 2013 and 2014 – before the concern with carbaryl came up – researchers wanted to know if growers applied the first thinning spray at 8 mm, what happened when the second spray was applied? This was a concern for growers who wanted to know if they should go in with a second spray and, if so, what should they use.

In 2013, researchers used a standard rate of carbaryl, as recommended for Gala, and applied at 8 mm, then again with a second spray in seven days, near the closing of the window for thinning. It seemed to work, Dr. Cline said, adding carbaryl did reduce fruit set.

“A tank mix of 6BA and carbaryl applied at 8 mm followed by carbaryl at 15 mm thinned the most.”

Fruit size, for the untreated, was around 140 grams. In 2013, 6BA followed by a carbaryl spray produced the largest fruit size.

“Yields always go down when you thin but hopefully you are compensated by the higher price of the fewer but larger fruits,” Dr. Cline said.

“To summarize, 12 to 14 days was required from the time of the first spray to initiate fruit drop. A single application at 8 mm, applied separately or tank mixed, of 6BA and carbaryl was the most effective.”

When it comes to future research, new thinning techniques and mechanical blossom thinning are on the list to be examined. According to the industry, string thinners are more effective now with the movement toward high-density, spindle-type orchards. New products, such as Metamitron – a herbicide registered in the EU and U.S. – are also of interest.

“We will ... be looking at that,” Dr. Cline said.
Published in Chemicals
May 10, 2017, Chatham, Ont. - AGRIS Co-operative, Wanstead Farmers Co-operative and Haggerty Creek Ltd. announced an aggressive expansion of its web based weather service, the "AGGrower Daily Dashboard" across southwestern Ontario.

This collaborative effort will see the current compliment of 80 automated weather stations across southwestern Ontario expand to a goal of more than 400 reporting locations when completed. Producers who sign up for the AGGrower Daily Dashboard will have the ability to have field specific climate information delivered directly to their laptop, cellular phone or tablet.

"Our web based weather service will assist producers in managing their crops by providing real time precipitation, relative humidity, wind speed, growth models on individual fields and notifications of critical stages during the growth cycle," says Dale Cowan, senior agronomist and sales manager for AGRIS Co-operative and Wanstead Farmers Co-operative. "The AGGrower Daily Dashboard will also assist in timely do it yourself crop scouting using integrated pest management principles," added Cowan.

To supplement the web based weather reporting network, Cowan is now recruiting dedicated "citizen scientists" to join the Community Collaborative Rain Hail and Snow network, (CoCoRahs).

"These volunteers would be part of a larger community of like-minded people that would help support our automated weather stations with additional rainfall data to support our new initiative of the AGGrower Daily Dashboard program," says Cowan.

Volunteer "citizen scientists" must live in Essex, Chatham-Kent, Lambton, West Middlesex or Elgin Counties, have a keen interest and dedication to collecting rainfall and a smart phone.

Installation and training on the use of the special rain gauge is provided at no charge to those participating. For more information on how you can become a "citizen scientist" contact Paul deNijs at 226-626-1048.

This project is funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario.
Published in Equipment
May 10, 2017, Ottawa, Ont. – Statistics Canada released the 2016 Census of Agriculture today, providing an overview of each agriculture sector in Canada.

According to the Census, fruit, berries and nuts acreages rose 6.7 per cent from 2011.

Blueberry area continues to expand in Quebec, B.C. and the Atlantic regions. Overall, blueberries hold 196, 026 acres nationally.

The Census reports that the blueberry sector is being driven by international demand and in 2016, Canada exported 94.8 million kilograms of frozen blueberries, an increase of 33.7 per cent from 2011.

Cranberry acres have also increased from 15,191 acres in 2011 to 18,134 acres in 2016. Cranberry exports increased by 77.6 per cent to 63.5 million kilograms.

The Census notes that both blueberries and cranberries are amenable to mechanized harvesting, allowing operators to increase the scale of their operation with a minimal increase in the number of employees.

The area of strawberries, raspberries and apple orchards show declining numbers. Strawberry acres dropped 8.4 per cent to 10,155 acres and raspberry acres decreased by 23.7 per cent to 5,651 acres.

According to the Census, both the strawberry and raspberry sectors have been faced with disease outbreaks and labour and market challenges.

Apple orchard acres across Canada have decreased 3.2 per cent from 2011 to 43,631 acres in 2016. The largest decrease in has been in Nova Scotia and Quebec.

However, despite declining area, the apple sector reports acres being used more intensively, with the yield of apples in Canada increasing from 7.2 tons per acre in 1996 to 10.0 tons per acre in 2016.

Field vegetable area rose 10.3 per cent from 2011 to 270,294 acres. Sweet corn remains the largest vegetable crop in terms of production area, but reports a decrease of 16.9 per cent since 2011.

According to the Census, one in eight farms, or 12.7 per cent, sell food directly to consumers, with 96.1 per cent of products being fruits and vegetables.

Overall, farm profits are unchanged since 2010 and farms were as profitable in 2015 at the national level as they were in 2010. The gross farm receipts totaled $69.4 billion in 2015, with primary agriculture accounting for 1.5 per cent of the national gross domestic product in 2013.

Agriculture goods accounted for 2.2 per cent of Canada’s total imports and 4.6 per cent of total exports.

For more information or to view the entire Census of Agriculture, visit: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/170510/dq170510a-eng.htm
Published in Research
May 9, 2017 – Laboratory testing can detect Dickeya — but is there enough of it present to justify the higher costs?

It’s a relatively new threat to North American potato production. The invasive pathogen Dickeya dianthicola — not to be confused with blackleg causing Dickeya solani — was first spotted in Canada in Ontario fields, having come in on seed potatoes from Maine. READ MORE
Published in Vegetables
May 9, 2017, Guelph, Ont – The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is again developing fire blight risk maps during the 2017 apple and pear blossom period based on the Cougarblight Model to help support apple and pear growers with their fire blight management decisions.

The risk is based on inputting the seven-day weather forecasts from 67 locations from various regions throughout the province into the Cougarblight model. The results from Cougarblight are then mapped and posted on the OMAFRA Website.

This year, there will be a separate webpage for apples and pears (in English and French).

The maps are animated and will cycle through the seven-day fire blight risk predictions based on the seven-day weather forecast. Updated fire blight risk prediction maps will be generated and posted three times per week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) until bloom period is over. A new feature on the maps will allow growers to zoom in and out of the maps, reposition them to their specific locations and pause or start the maps.

As with any model, the fire blight risk is a general guide and environmental conditions may be more conducive for fire blight infection in a particular orchard than what is indicated by the maps. All apple and pear growers are encouraged to run either the Cougarblight or Maryblyt model with data generated from their orchards for a more accurate prediction.

Assumptions: The risk assumes that open blossoms are present and dew or rain will wet the blossom, which is necessary for a fire blight infection to occur. If there are no open blossoms or if wetting of the open blossoms does not occurs, infection will most likely not take place. However, it only takes a little dew to wash the fire blight bacteria into the open blossom for infection to occur.

How to use the maps: There are only two maps that will be generated this year, one for 'fire blight occurred in the neighbourhood last year' and another for 'Fire blight occurred in the orchard last year and is now active in your neighbourhood'. To use the maps, orchards must be assigned to one of two categories based on the fire blight situation in the orchard last year and this year.
  1. Fire blight occurred in the orchard last year and is now active in your neighbourhood (use the 1st map labeled 'Active Fire Blight in Apples 2017')
  2. Fire blight occurred in the neighbourhood last year (use the 2nd map labeled 'Fire Blight Occurred Last Year in Apples')
If the fire blight situation from last year is not known, it is best to assign the orchard to 'Fire blight occurred in the neighbourhood last year' and follow the 2nd map on the webpage. Once the orchard has been assigned to one of the categories above, locate the region of the orchard on the fire blight risk prediction maps and follow the animated maps for the predicted fire blight risk corresponding to the dates on the map. The animated maps will change through the changing risks over the seven day forecast, so watch them carefully. A brief interpretation of the risk will be posted above the maps for each update.

Interpretation of Risk: The following risks (Legend) are colour coded on the maps and designated as follows:
  • Low (green): Indicates a low risk of fire blight occurring. Wetting of blossoms during these temperature conditions has not resulted in new infections in past years.
  • Caution (orange): Wetting of flowers under these temperature conditions is not likely to lead to infection except for blossoms within a few meters of an active canker. Risk of infection will increase if the weather becomes warmer and wetter. Weather forecasts should be carefully monitored. If antibiotic materials are not being used, blossom protection with other materials should be initiated one or two days prior to entering a high infection risk period. Continue appropriate protective sprays until the infection risk drops below the "high" threshold.
  • High (purple): Under these temperature conditions, serious outbreaks of fire blight have occurred. Orchards that recently had blight are especially vulnerable. The risk of severe damage from infection increases during the later days of the primary bloom period, and during petal fall, while blossoms are plentiful. Infection is common, but more scattered when late blossoms are wetted during high-risk periods. The potential severity of infection increases if a series of high-risk days occur.
  • Extreme and Exceptional (magenta): Some of the most damaging fire blight epidemics have occurred under these optimum temperature conditions, followed by blossom wetting. Orchards that have never had fire blight are also at risk under these conditions. Infections during these conditions often lead to severe orchard damage, especially during primary bloom or when numerous secondary blossoms are present.
Published in Fruit
May 8, 2017, Wenatchee, WA – Get ready for a new kind of apple. It's called Cosmic Crisp, and farmers in Washington State, who grow 70 per cent of the country's apples, are planting these trees by the millions.

The apples themselves, dark red in colour with tiny yellow freckles, will start showing up in stores in the fall of 2019. READ MORE
Published in Fruit
May 5, 2017, Montreal, Que. - Inocucor Technologies Inc. of Montreal signed an agreement with Axter Agroscience Inc., one of Canada's leading providers and distributors of foliar feeding crop solutions, to distribute Inocucor's biological crop input Synergro™ in Canada.

Under the agreement, Axter will also have certain prime-mover rights to rapidly develop the market in Quebec and Ontario.

Synergro™ is a live-cell formulation for high-value produce, such as strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce and broccoli.

This state-of-the-art biological product, approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in December 2016, is among the first microbial products registered in Canada.

It is also a Pro-Cert Approved Input for use in organic growing in Canada.

Inocucor uses a patented fermentation process to combine multi-strains of bacteria and yeasts into powerful soil and plant optimizers that are safe for people and the environment.

Synergro will be available through Axter's well-established distribution network in all the Canadian provinces.

For more information, visit www.inocucor.com, www.axter.ca
Published in Chemicals
May 4, 2017, Brandon, Man – Whether fresh or processing potatoes, any issue in storage needs to involve partnership with your end-user, says Mary LeMere, an agronomy manager with McCain Foods based in Wisconsin.

LeMere was at Manitoba Potato Production Days in Brandon, Man., January 24 to 26 to deliver “lightning advice” on three key topics – managing late blight in storage, the impact of pile height on potato quality, and tips for using FLIR cameras to detect issues in the pile. READ MORE
Published in Vegetables
May 1, 2017, State College, PA – During multiple years of research on bitter pit in commercial Honeycrisp orchards, incidence was associated with low calcium levels in fruit peel; high ratios of nitrogen, potassium, and/or magnesium to calcium in fruit peel; excessive terminal shoot length; and low crop load. Heat and water stress predisposed Honeycrisp to bitter pit in 2016, and incidence was also highly correlated to excessive fruit size. Total actual calcium applied per season was inversely related to bitter pit, with the best suppression of bitter pit being with at least 8 lb and the source being calcium chloride.

Key findings to consider:
  • Fruit calcium levels of 0.04 to 0.05 per cent were associated with the lowest bitter pit levels in Honeycrisp. Whereas most apple varieties have fruit calcium levels of 0.05 to 0.06 per cent, Honeycrisp often only had a fruit calcium level of 0.03 per cent. Growers who achieved the desired fruit calcium level had developed a season-long foliar calcium program that totaled at least 8 to 13 lb of actual calcium. You will find a useful tool for making decisions regarding calcium materials and rates at the Penn State Extension Tree Fruit Production website.
  • The ratio of Mg+K+N to Ca in fruit was most strongly correlated to bitter pit incidence, and explained 70 per cent of the occurrence (probability level of 99 per cent). This finding indicates that growers should avoid or minimize sprays of magnesium, potassium, and nitrogen on Honeycrisp, which is in agreement with recent Cornell recommendations for the variety.
  • Calcium levels in the fruit were higher, and bitter pit was reduced, when average terminal shoot length was 10 to 15 inches. The commercial blocks of Honeycrisp with historically high levels of bitter pit were overly vigorous, with shoot length over 20 inches. Whereas growers find that Honeycrisp trees often need to be pruned more severely the first several years following planting in order to encourage growth, it is important to develop a more balanced approach to pruning mature trees.
  • Crop load levels of four to five fruit per cm 2 trunk cross-sectional area were associated with reduced bitter pit levels. Thinning Honeycrisp to an optimum crop load often involves chemical thinning followed by careful follow-up hand thinning. Tom Kon and Jim Schupp’s research with an equilifruit apple thinning gauge has shown that it is more accurate in adjusting crop load than spacing fruit a certain distance apart and often results in leaving more fruit per tree.
Orchard experimental design, fruit sampling, and determining fruit nutrient levels

Three trees each with high, medium, and low crop loads were tagged in each orchard plot for measurements of crop load, fruit size, shoot length, fruit nutrient levels, and bitter pit incidence. Peel slices for nutrient analysis were taken from around the apple circumference, 3 cm from the calyx. The peels were air dried for two weeks and then ground with a hand-held coffee grinder. Nutrient analyses were conducted by the Penn State Agricultural Services Analytical Lab.

Regression analyses indicated bitter pit was very highly correlated to the ratios of N/Ca, K/Ca, Mg/Ca, (K+Mg)/Ca, (N+K+Mg)/Ca and ((N+K+Mg)/Ca)-38 and inversely correlated to the level of Ca. Bitter pit incidence increased with increasing shoot length and decreased with decreasing crop load. During 2015, bitter pit incidence was significantly different at each harvest timing, with apples harvested too green having 57 per cent more bitter pit than fruit harvested at the proper stage of maturity. Growers applied their preferred calcium products and reported the source of calcium and number of sprays. Total elemental calcium applied per season was inversely related to bitter pit, with the best suppression of bitter pit being with 8 to 13 lb (source – calcium chloride).

In all years of the research, bitter pit showed up in the first month of storage and was not progressive. One of the original reasons for setting up the research was to test the Accumulated Ratio ((N+K+Mg)/Ca)-38); (Hansen, 2012) used by Washington growers to predict bitter pit. Now that we have three years of data with uniform plot designs, we have an opportunity to better adapt this tool for Pennsylvania growers. Fruit from grower cooperators were also sent to Chris Watkin’s postharvest laboratory in Geneva, New York, and the results of this study are reported at Postharvest Practices to Manage Storage Disorders in Honeycrisp. In several associated studies, we evaluated the effect of harvest maturity on bitter pit development, and bitter pit was increased by 55 to 60 per cent when fruit were harvested with background colour that was too green.

Based on data from this Honeycrisp research and fruit quality statistics from Pennsylvania packinghouses, we developed calculators to assist growers in making economic decisions regarding number of harvests and whether or not to stem-clip, and these are available at the Tree Fruit Production website.

The original study report, including images and charts, can be viewed here: http://extension.psu.edu/plants/tree-fruit/news/2017/crop-load-and-nutrient-management-practices-to-prevent-bitter-pit-in-honeycrisp
Published in Research
May 1, 2017, Souris, PEI – A potato processor in Souris, P.E.I., is getting a $500,000 loan from the federal government to help expand its business.

East Point Potato says the repayable contribution from ACOA will help the company purchase equipment to increase productivity and respond to an ever-changing market. READ MORE
Published in Companies
May 1, 2017, Orono, ME — Two bacteria threatening the potato industry worldwide will be the focus of a Potato Disease Summit Nov. 9 in Bangor, Maine, convened by the University of Maine.

Plant pathologists, researchers and scientists from The Netherlands, Scotland and five U.S. states will present the latest information on the bacteria — Dickeya and Pectobacterium — that cause blackleg disease, an emerging potato seed problem.

In the past three growing seasons, Dickeya, a bacterial pathogen of potatoes, has caused significant economic losses in seed nonemergence and crop loss nationwide. In addition, an associated pathogen, Pectobacterium, has caused potato crop losses in the field and in storage. The bacteria have caused losses to the potato industry in Europe for an even longer period.

"The University of Maine is responding to this situation by holding an international summit focused on the latest research and what steps are needed to help the potato industry," says University of Maine President Susan J. Hunter. "As Maine's only public research university, we are a longstanding partner with the state's potato industry in addressing its needs, including the growing threat posed by Dickeya and Pectobacterium."

The Potato Disease Summit – being held 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Nov. 9 at the Cross Insurance Center, 515 Main St., Bangor, Maine – is designed for scientists, consultants, regulatory officials, and potato seed growers and buyers. It will focus on such topics as current advances in detection and diagnosis of Dickeya; an overview of Pectobacterium in the U.S.; and management of Enterobacteriaceae spread and risk.

The $80 per person fee includes materials, lunch and breaks. Registration deadline is Oct. 2 and is available online: extension.umaine.edu/agriculture/programs/dickeya-and-pectobacterium-summit/.

For more information or to request a disability accommodation, contact Steve Johnson, 207.554.4373, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
Published in Research
April 19, 2017 – Healthy seed is a key factor in growing a quality potato crop. Several diseases affect seed tubers and have the potential to reduce plant stand early in the season.

It is extremely important to examine all seed lots carefully immediately after receiving the seed.
If you detect diseases or defects, check the standards set by the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency (CFIA). There are tolerances both for shipping and for receiving.

If diseases or defects appear to be a problem, growers may request that an inspector from CFIA re-inspect the seed, but this must be done within 48 hours of receiving the seed.

Disinfesting the seed cutters often is strongly recommended to reduce the spread of pathogens.

Important seed-borne diseases that reduce plant stand.

Fusarium dry rot (Fusarium spp)
This is the most common disease causing seed piece decay. Infected seed pieces may be partially or completely destroyed. A single sprout may emerge if only part of the seed piece is infected, but the resulting plant will be weak and will produce few marketable tubers.

Fusarium lesions are sunken and shriveled with concentric wrinkles. The internal rotted tissue is brown or grey to black, dry and crumbly. There is no noticeable smell. Fusarium often rots the center of the tuber, forming a cavity. The walls of the cavity are often lined with rotting tissue, producing spores that may be white or yellow or pink. Fusarium spores can contaminate healthy seed at cutting and spread the disease to healthy tubers. There are seed-piece treatments to prevent the spread of Fusarium during seed cutting, but no seed treatment can turn bad seed into good.

Rhizoctonia (R. solani)
Rhizoctonia can reduce plant stands and cause serious losses especially in cool springs. Affected tubers have sclerotia, which are black, irregular lumps stuck to the tuber skin. These black sclerotia germinate producing a fungal growth that infects sprouts causing dark brown cankers. Infections that kill sprouts before emergence cause severe damage. New sprouts will emerge, but they will be less vigorous than the first sprouts resulting in weak, uneven stands. Rhizoctonia is more prevalent if the weather is cool and wet. These conditions slow plant emergence and favour the growth of the fungus. Quadris in-furrow is a good management tool to control Rhizoctonia.

Late blight (Phytophthora infestans)
This is the most devastating fungal disease of potatoes. Infected seed is an important source of inoculum. Try to reduce the risk of planting infected seed by inspecting seed lots carefully. Look for slightly sunken, purplish areas of variable size on the surface of tubers. A granular, reddish brown dry rot develops under the skin. CFIA allows seed lots with one per cent of late blight and Fusarium infection combined. If there is one per cent late blight infection, you will end up with approximately 150 infected plants per acre. Some of the seed will rot before emergence, but cutting infected seed will spread the disease to healthy tubers. If more than one per cent of late blight is detected in a seed shipment, it is advisable not to plant the seed.

The fungicide Reason is registered as a seed treatment for late blight. Curzate applied at 80 per cent plant emergence is recommended if the seed originated in an area where late blight was problem the previous season.

If the growing season is cool and wet, it is impossible to eradicate the disease no matter how good the spray program. In 2016, late blight did not develop in Ontario, but it was detected in some seed-production areas both in Canada and in the US. Thus, check carefully for late blight when your seed shipment arrives.

Soft Rot (Pectobacterium carotovorum subsp. carotovorum)
Bacterial sot rot can cause serious losses. If about one per cent of the tubers in a seed lot show visible rot, excessive bacterial seed-piece decay may develop. The rotted tissues are wet and cream to tan in colour with a soft, granular consistency. Rotted tissues are sharply delineated from healthy ones by a blackish border. Secondary bacteria invade infected tubers rapidly causing a fishy smell.

Healthy seed tubers may be infected during cutting, and infected tubers will rot rapidly once planted. There are no seed treatments to control soft rot.

The Old Blackleg (Pectobacterium atrosepticum)
Symptoms on tubers are sunken, circular, black, rotted lesions extending from the tuber stem end into the pith. Rotting tissue is cream-coloured, but darkens with time. In an advanced stage, the infected tissue turns greyish black, mushy and smelly. Blackleg is more common in cool, wet seasons with temperatures below 250 Celsius.

There is no seed treatment for blackleg. Grade out infected tubers and make sure you disinfest the seed cutter often to reduce the spread of the disease to healthy tubers.

The New Dickeya Blackleg (Dickeya dianthicola)
The symptoms of tubers infected with Dickeya are similar to those caused by the old blackleg. The only difference is that the rot is slimier.

Seed tubers infected with Dickeya may appear healthy when coming out of storages. Dickeya’s optimum temperature for development is above 250 Celsius. Tubers infected at harvest will not develop symptoms in seed storages.

When seed tubers with latent infection are planted in the spring, they will rot quickly when the soil temperature increases in June.

The new Dickeya blackleg is much more aggressive than the old blackleg, and tubers are not often invaded by the secondary bacteria that cause rotting tubers to smell fishy. Thus, Dickeya infected tubers are usually odorless.

A specific, DNA-based test is necessary to distinguish Dickeya from the old blackleg. A & L laboratories in London, Ont., conducts PCR tests to identify Dickeya dianthicola.

It bears repeating that disinfesting seed cutters often reduces the spread of the pathogens that cause seed piece decay. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Plant healthy seed.
Published in Vegetables
For fruit growers across the globe, birds are a common bane, particularly for those seeking a quiet, humane and cost-effective mitigation strategy. Starlings are especially unsavory interlopers as they not only spread disease but often destroy an entire crop, forcing growers to walk away and leave everything on the tree.
Published in Harvesting
April 17, 2017, Kelowna, B.C. - Members of the agricultural community in Kelowna, B.C., say City Council did not communicate with them enough when constructing a new temporary farm worker housing plan.

Kelowna city council forwarded the new temporary farm worker housing plan to public hearing at Monday afternoon’s, April 10, council meeting.

The plan focuses on making the process simpler for farmers who want to house fewer than 40 workers on their property. Those farmers would have one meeting before council and no public hearing. Farms with over 40 workers will have to go through council and a public hearing process.

The B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association would like to see a different way of determining when an application for temporary farm worker housing should go to public hearing. They have requested the city host further dialogue with industry partners before the plan moves forward.

According to the City's suburban and rural planning manager, over 90 per cent of Okanagan farms use less than 40 workers, and the City has spent ample time trying to consult with the agricultural community.

Revised policy changes were sent out again for comment on February 10, 2017. However, the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association was not included in this e-mail. It was not until March 15, that the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association was sent the final revised policy for comment before the April 10 council meeting.

A public hearing for the new temporary farm worker housing plan will be held on May 2, 2017.

If the new plan is not accepted at the public hearing the City will have to look at different options and will have to consult with all partners once more. READ MORE
Published in Business & Policy
April 3, 2017, Guelph, Ont – Syngenta Canada recently launched Aprovia Top fungicide, a new tool for controlling foliar early blight and suppressing brown spot.

Early blight, which is caused by the Alternaria solani fungus, is found in most potato growing regions. Foliar symptoms include small, brown, irregular or circular-shaped lesions that form on the potato plant’s lower leaves later in the season. The disease prefers warm, dry conditions to develop, and can be more severe in plants that are stressed and weakened.

Brown spot, caused by the Alternaria alternata fungus, is closely related to early blight and is found wherever potatoes are grown. Unlike early blight, brown spot can occur at any point during the growing season, producing small, dark brown lesions on the leaf surface.

Aprovia Top fungicide combines two modes of action with preventative and early curative activity on these two key diseases. Difenoconazole (Group 3) is absorbed by the leaf and moves from one side of the leaf to the other to protect both surfaces against disease. Solatenol (Group 7 SDHI) binds tightly to the leaf’s waxy layer and is gradually absorbed into the leaf tissue to provide residual protection.

“After a strong start, a foliar application of Aprovia Top can be used to manage these key diseases and keep potato crops greener longer,” says Eric Phillips, fungicides and insecticides product lead with Syngenta Canada.

Aprovia Top is available now for use in 2017 production. In potatoes, one case will treat up to 40 acres.

At this time, maximum residue limits (MRLs) for Solatenol use on potatoes have been established for markets in Canada and the U.S. Growers should consult with their processor prior to use.

In addition to potatoes, Aprovia Top can be used to control scab and powdery mildew in apples. Aprovia Top also provides control of early blight, powdery mildew, and Septoria leaf spot in fruiting vegetables, as well as powdery mildew, Alternaria blight and leaf spot in cucurbit vegetables.

See the Aprovia Top label for a complete list of crops and diseases.

For more information about Aprovia Top fungicide, please visit Syngenta.ca or the Customer Interaction Centre at 1‑87‑SYNGENTA (1‑877‑964‑3682).
Published in Diseases
March 24, 2017, Mitchell, Ont – Ontario growers and processors of fruits and vegetables have successfully concluded an agreement for the 2017 vegetable season, the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Processing Association (OFVPA) announced.

"For the first time we could sit down directly with our partner growers and resolve many issues," said Steve Lamoure, president of OFVPA. "This happened because the Wynne government stepped in to get both parties to the table. We were within hours of losing significant parts of the growing season."

"The results of working with our grower partners, the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission and the Ontario government yielded positive results," he added. "The professional handling of the negotiations of all crops made for a more constructive dialogue on the issues that affect us all. We will continue to work with all parties for the advancement and growth of all processing vegetables."

As part of the deal, growers successfully negotiated to get back more than 100,000 tons of tomato production previously cut.

"The changes to the negotiation process was never about price,” said Lamoure. “This was about a working relationship that can protect and grow the industry. Our workers, growers, companies and communities all benefit. This is a major win for the growers, worth approximately $10 to $11 million.”

"Cooperation, trust and willingness to work together does make a difference," said Don Epp, executive director of the OFVPA. "Hopefully we have marked a turning point that will allow us to focus on growing our industry and open new opportunities for growers and processors. This will benefit everyone and strengthen the local economies of Southwestern Ontario."

The agreements cover fruits and vegetables processed in Ontario.
Published in Vegetables
March 15, 2017, Guelph, Ont – Ontario’s newest vegetable crop specialist, Travis Cranmer, joins the ministry from the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, where he worked on applied and molecular research in plant biology. With OMAFRA, he will work with vegetable crops including bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chives, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, leeks, onions, shallots and spinach.

In 2015, Carnmer graduated from the University of Guelph with a Master of Science in plant production systems.
 
During his studies, Cranmer coordinated complex research trials, conducted statistical analysis and interpreted data, providing team leadership to research assistants, technicians and students.
 
Cranmer grew up on a farm in Bright’s Grove propagating, growing and selling various vegetables including bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, chives, garlic, kale, leeks, onions, lettuce and spinach. He also spent time working at Degroot’s Nurseries as a specialist at plant, pest and pathogen identification as well as disease diagnosis from samples provided by clients.

In his spare time, Cranmer runs a woodworking business and sells many of his products online.

He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 519-826-4963.
Published in Provinces
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) scientist Bob Vernon continues his work with wireworm controls for good reason.
Published in Insects
March 9, 2017, Wenatchee, WA – The Trump administration’s immigration enforcement directives are adding to existing anxiety about U.S. farm labour availability and fueling interest among growers for robots to stand in for migrant workers.

Two technology companies showed off progress on robotic pickers at the International Fruit Tree Association conference in Wenatchee, Wash., in late February. READ MORE

 

Published in Equipment
March 8, 2017, Victoria, BC – British Columbia’s value-added food companies will increase their chances of having their products sold outside of Canada by participating in a Government of Canada- and British Columbia-funded program to help them meet international food safety and traceability requirements.

The approximately $2-million Post-Farm Food Safety and Traceability Program will offer participants up to $35,000 to:
  • conduct food safety and traceability assessments to identify and document risks, issues and opportunities to improve food safety and traceability capacity, systems and practices;
  • access training to increase the food safety and traceability expertise of their staff; and
  • implement Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), Best Practices (BPs) and recognized Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) food safety practices and traceability systems in their operations. 
The two-year program will improve agrifood businesses’ capacity to address current issues and to meet emerging national and international food safety and traceability requirements. It is being delivered by the Food Processing Human Resources Council and is cost-shared with participants. Application forms, guidelines and related documents are available at: http://postfarmfoodsafety.com/home/ .

The program targets B.C. food-processing businesses seeking first-time certification in internationally recognized HACCP-based food safety assurance programs. Additionally, the program targets B.C. companies that use recognized food safety and traceability standards, implement food safety and traceability systems, effectively manage food safety risk, and create opportunities to access new markets and increase sales.

For additional information and applications for the new program, visit: http://postfarmfoodsafety.com/home/ .
Published in Provinces

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