Production
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
A non-descript building in an industrial park in the Okanagan region of B.C. could be the setting of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.  
Published in Insects
March 1, 2017, Ottawa, Ont – Total organic agricultural land is increasing in Canada. The Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA)'s latest research has revealed 5,053 certified organic operations in Canada, accounting for 2.43 million acres of land.

"Canada's organic sector continues to rely on the voluntary disclosure of data by certifiers and provincial organizations,” said Tia Loftsgard, COTA's executive director. “In 2016 we finally have universal participation, resulting in the most rigorous production data yet. However, year-over-year change and inconsistencies remain a risk until a national mandatory data system has been implemented."

Key findings:
  • Organic acreage in Canada increased by more than 70,000 acres to 2.43 million acres, or 1.5 per cent, between 2014 and 2015.
  • Organic areas now account for approximately 1.5 per cent of total agricultural land in Canada.
  • While pasture still occupies the largest share of all organic acreage, its proportion has decreased from 65 per cent to 63.8 per cent primarily due to significant increases in vegetable & root crop acreage, as well fruit & nut acreage.
  • In 2015, Canada imported at least $652 million worth of organic products, representing a 37 per cent increase from 2012.
  • There are 5,053 certified organic operations in Canada, over half of which are in Quebec, Saskatchewan and Ontario.
  • Of the certified operations, there are 4,045 primary producers, 618 livestock operations and 1,542 processors, manufacturers and retailers in Canada.
Despite the growth of Canadian organic acreage in recent years, demand for organic is significantly outpacing supply. Organic retail sales in Canada are now worth $4.7 billion annually, a 13.6 per cent growth per year since 2007, while organic production is experiencing much slower growth.

"Our organic agricultural production in Canada cannot keep up with the exponential growth of the demand, this is resulting in an increased reliance on import organics," said Loftsgard. "Our government must introduce incentives to encourage farm operators to transition to certified organic agriculture."

During the three-year transition period to organic, farmers often experience temporary decrease of yield without benefiting from the organic premiums. Programs to support organic transition and its associated financial risk needs to be put in place.
Published in Production
March 1, 2017, Ottawa, Ont – P.E.I. potatoes fetched good prices in 2016, continuing a trend that stretches back to 2004.

The strong performance for Island spuds was shown in the farm product prices indexed released by Statistics Canada Feb. 27. READ MORE
Published in Marketing
March 1, 2017, Boise, ID – Three types of potatoes genetically engineered to resist the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine are safe for the environment and safe to eat, federal officials have announced.

The approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration late last week gives Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Company permission to plant the potatoes this spring and sell them in the fall. READ MORE
Published in Companies
February 22, 2017 – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s potato breeders saw remarkable results with their 2016 red-skinned selections. In fact, red-skinned varieties made up half of the total selections AAFC breeders released to industry during the annual Potato Selection Release Open House.

From adaptability to the processing market and high yields to disease resistance, these potential new varieties have it all. For the first time, the breeding program unveiled a multi-purpose red-skinned selection showing promise for processing as wedges, and as a traditional table potato. Breeders have also developed Russet selections that have a longer shelf life in cold storage while maintaining stable sugars, making them attractive new selections to French fry processors. These were among 15 new potato selections that AAFC’s breeding team unveiled this year.

The selections were narrowed down from more than 100,000 hybrid seedlings grown and tested and measured over six years in AAFC greenhouses, laboratories and fields across the country. The selections are the result of continuing technological advances that are allowing AAFC researchers to probe the complicated DNA of potatoes to identify genes and strands of DNA linked to favourable traits. This will lead to the development of germplasm with the potential for better yields, nutritional value and cooking and processing qualities.

The selections also featured disease and pest resistance that make them less demanding on the environment and offer alternative choices for organic growers. With each genetic marker that is identified, researchers are able to more quickly and accurately search through hundreds of different kinds of potatoes, including centuries-old heritage varieties and wild species, for potential breeding lines that will produce new hybrids with the desired traits.
Published in Research
The B.C. tree fruit replant program is having a positive affect on the province’s fruit growing industry and has been so popular, the province’s Ministry of Agriculture has provided additional funds.
Published in Provinces
February 21, 2017, Boston, MA – According to new findings reported at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), farmers can invite greater bee diversity in their fields by diversifying their crops.

Researchers looked at 15 farms in central California, some of which grew only strawberries and some of which grew strawberries along with other crops like broccoli, raspberries, and kale. They found that several different bee species buzzed around the diversified farms, whereas only the European honeybee pollinated the strawberry-only ones. READ MORE
Published in Research
February 21, 2017, Guelph, Ont – The 2017 Ontario Potato Conference & Trade Show will be held at the Delta Hotel in Guelph February 28.
 
The speakers are looking forward to providing the latest information on seed health, disease management, insect management, soil improvement, storage audits and pesticide re-evaluations.

The number of Trade Show exhibitors keeps increasing, and it will be as interesting as in previous years. There will be enough time to visit the booths at lunch and during the afternoon coffee break. Lunch, coffee breaks and parking are included with registration.

This event is for growers, crop consultants, potato industry people and anyone interested in potatoes.

The deadline for early registration at $50 is this February 24. The on-site registration fee at the Delta Conference Center is $75.

Contact Eugenia Banks at 519-766-8073 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more information.
Published in Research
February 21, 2017, Olds, Alta – There will be a strawberry production workshop on March 1, 2017, at the Pomeroy Inn and Suites at Olds College.

“Strawberries are an excellent crop to grow in Alberta, with lots of potential markets for this tasty berry,” says Robert Spencer, commercial horticulture specialist, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “This half-day workshop will help new or potential strawberry producer with all aspects of growing strawberries, from varietal selection and establishment, to the maintenance and harvest of both June-bearing and day-neutral strawberries.”

Registration starts at 11:30 a.m., with sessions running 12:45 until 5:30 p.m. The cost to attend these workshops is $20 per person (plus GST), which includes lunch and a production manual for each farm operation. To assist with planning, participants are asked to register in advance by calling the Ag-Info Centre Registration line at 1-800-387-6030 before February 21, 2017.
Published in Production
Over the past few decades and, more specifically, the past five years, there has been a resurgence of interest in hard cider in North America. Many Canadian cider makers have distinguished themselves among top producers and, because of increasing consumer demand for cider products, there are growing market opportunities both nationally and overseas.
Published in Research
The long, hot summer days of 2016 helped to create one of the best tomato crops Ontario has seen for a long time. Many farmers were faced with a bumper crop. So what can a farmer do with all those extra tomatoes?
Published in Marketing
February 8, 2017, Ottawa, Ont – Effective April 1, 2017 CanadaGAP will introduce an unannounced audit program in response to new GFSI benchmarking requirements.

What is an unannounced audit?
  • Unannounced audits will not be scheduled in advance with the producer.
  • The certification body will provide two to five business days' notice that the auditor is coming.
  • An unannounced audit will take place instead of a scheduled audit (NOT additional to a scheduled audit).
  • The producer will pay the regular audit fee for the unannounced audit.
Only if needed, the certification body or auditor may contact you ahead of time (e.g., early in the season)
  • To confirm the scope of your operation's certification
  • To confirm in general when certain activities are occurring (e.g., harvesting, packing, shipping, etc.)
  • NOT to identify a specific time for the audit.
When will unannounced audits occur?
  • Like all CanadaGAP audits, unannounced audits must occur while activities relevant to the scope of your operation's certification are occurring.
  • You cannot block off "busy periods" like harvesting or shipping.
  • Unannounced audits can occur during periods of high activity.
Be audit-ready
  • You can refuse the first notification, for valid reasons as determined by the certification body.
  • You cannot refuse the second notification.
  • Not responding to the notification (phone or email) from the certification body or auditor will be considered an ACCEPTED notification. 
  • If you are not prepared to proceed with the audit when the auditor arrives, you will still be charged for the cost of the auditor's time and travel.
  • If possible, the auditor will return for another unannounced audit during the current season. Note that it may be impossible for the auditor to return during the current season due to scheduling demands.
  • In other words, not being prepared for the unannounced audit could put your operation's certification in jeopardy.
Who will be chosen for an unannounced audit?
  • The new unannounced audit program will be for those enrolled in CanadaGAP certification Options A1, A2, C and D. 
  • The certification body will choose five per cent of its clients each year.
  • Over time, all individually certified companies will have an unannounced audit.
  • Those enrolled in group certification Option B already have an unannounced component to their option. Option A3 will also see the introduction of an unannounced component in 2017. 
What about random audits?
  • If you are enrolled in CanadaGAP certification Option A1 or A2 (four-year audit cycle) 1) there is no change to your four-year audit cycle, and 2) there is no change to the way that random audits work.
  • You would still be informed in advance if you've been randomly selected for an audit. However, you may not be told the exact date of your audit. It could be an unannounced audit.
  • Likewise, if you already expect to be audited this year (because you are due for an audit in your four-year cycle), this audit could be unannounced.
  • "Unannounced" means you won't know more than two to five business days in advance of the date of your audit. You will still know in advance that you are having an audit sometime this year.
"Although certification options A1, A2 and A3 are not GFSI-recognized, the CanAgPlus board has chosen to include all certification options in the unannounced audit programme to improve the overall rigour of CanadaGAP certification," explained Heather Gale, executive director for CanadaGAP.

Why are unannounced audits being introduced?
  • To meet new GFSI requirements
  • To respond to market signals
  • To ensure that producers are maintaining their program on a continuing basis
"We need to be ready to demonstrate to our customers that CanadaGAP-certified companies can meet program requirements at any time," commented Jack Bates, chair of the CanAgPlus board.

A presentation outlining the new unannounced audit program is available on the CanadaGAP website at: http://www.canadagap.ca/publications/canadagap-presentations/.
Published in Food Safety
February 8, 2017 – Walki, a producer of technical laminates and protective packaging materials, has developed an organic mulching solution based on natural biodegradable fibres instead of plastic.

Walki Agripap is made from kraft paper that is coated with a biodegradable coating layer, which slows down the degradation of the paper. Without the coating, the paper would degrade in the soil within a few weeks.

Walki’s new organic mulching solution has been the subject of extensive field-testing in Finland. The tests, which were carried out in 2016 by independent research institute Luke Piikkiö, compared the performance of different biodegradable mulches for growing iceberg lettuce and seedling onions. The tests demonstrated that Agripap was easy to lay on the fields and delivered excellent weed control. The results in terms of yield and durability were also good.

Following the successful testing and approval of Agripap in Finland and Sweden, the next step will be to complete testing in Europe’s main mulching markets: Spain, France and Italy.
Published in Planting
February 7, 2017, Edmonton, Alta – Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF), in partnership with the Potato Growers of Alberta, is holding a potato post-harvest management workshop at three sites in March.

“Crop and financial losses of stored potatoes has a significant impact on the profitability of fresh and seed potato growers in Alberta,” says Robert Spencer, commercial horticulture specialist, AF. “Participants will learn about potato storage design and management, as well as pre-harvest, post-harvest, in-storage and post-storage disease management information. This will increase their capacity for prolonged quality potato storage, as well as reduce losses that occur in storage or in the post-harvest process.”

The workshop dates are:
  • March 7 – Lethbridge
  • March 8 – Lacombe
  • March 9 – Westlock
A maximum of two attendees from each farm operation may attend. The cost to attend these workshops is $15 per person (plus GST), which includes lunch and a resource binder for each farm operation.

Participants are asked to register in advance by calling the Ag-Info Centre Registration line at 1-800-387-6030 prior to February 28, 2017.
Published in Production
February 7, 2017, Presque Ilse, ME – Potato seed tubers harboring Dickeya dianthicola and Pectobacterium wasabiae are the only confirmed source of these pathogens.

At this point, there is no evidence that either of the two pathogens overwinter in the soil. The generally accepted length of survival time in the soil for these pathogens is one week to six months, climate dependent. Longer survival is possible on plant matter in the soil. With that, the source of the inoculum, and hence the source of the disease, is seed. Therefore, any best management practices efforts on Dickeya dianthicola or Pectobacterium wasabiae must start with the seed.

Select seed from farms where Dickeya dianthicola or Pectobacterium wasabiae have not been detected and seed marketed in previous years has not been associated with Dickeya dianthicola or Pectobacterium wasabiae.

Check North American Certified Seed Potato Health Certificates before purchasing seed and select seed that had not been increased on a farm associated with Dickeya dianthicola or Pectobacterium wasabiae.

Select seed with zero blackleg levels reported on the North American Certified Seed Potato Health Certificate.
 
Select seed that has been PCR tested by an independent laboratory and confirmed to be free of Dickeya dianthicola and Pectobacterium wasabiae.

Select seed from farms where a zero tolerance approach to Dickeya dianthicola and Pectobacterium wasabiae is being implemented.

Seed lots with field readings of blackleg present should have reports that suspect plant samples were taken for testing and found to be Dickeya dianthicola and Pectobacterium wasabiae free.

Avoid seed from fields where symptoms of Dickeya dianthicola or Pectobacterium wasabiae were observed, even if affected plants were rogued out.

Where possible, avoid irrigated seed crops.

Where possible, avoid planting whole-seed lots that were stripped from multiple lots.
Published in Research

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