Seeding/Planting
August 15, 2017 - The Council of Canadians is pressing the provincial government to keep genetically modified potatoes out of P.E.I. soil.

Council chair Leo Broderick questions the science behind Innate generation 2 potatoes, and added P.E.I. would be better off staying away from the controversy surrounding genetically modified food. He noted P.E.I. is already attracting attention as a producer of genetically modified salmon. READ MORE
Published in Food Safety
August 10, 2017, Morgan Hill, CA – Next week, Sakata Seed America will host its annual California Field Days in Salinas [August 14-16] and Woodland [August 16-18], Calif.

This will be the 31st year Sakata has hosted the event, which continues to grow every year.

“We began hosting these trials in the small field in Salinas back in 1986,” said John Nelson, sales and marketing director with the company. “Since, it’s continues to expand with our growing infrastructure and has become our largest vegetable event of the year, showcasing the best of Sakata’s genetics and serving host to our customers, media, retail and more. We look forward to celebrating 40 years of business in NAFTA at this year’s trials.”

Those attending Sakata’s field days this year will see a few new modifications. Most notably, it will be the inaugural year Sakata will host its Woodland (warm-season crops – melon, onion, pepper, tomato, pumpkin, squash, watermelon) trials at the new Woodland Research Station; an investment in land, greenhouses, offices and other facilities slated for completion of the first phases in 2018. To learn more about Sakata’s Woodland development, check out the 40th Anniversary video.

In Salinas (cool-season crops – broccoli, beet, spinach, etc.) trials, customers will be greeted with an updated Broccoli Master. This information-rich piece of literature serves as the ultimate reference guide for all things Sakata broccoli, including ideal varieties for every growing region and other important information for successful broccoli cultivation.

“This will be the third generation of our Broccoli Master, and it has always been well-used by our dealers and growers alike,” said Matt Linder, senior broccoli product manager and Salinas Valley area sales manager. “It contains all the great information you need on our varieties right at your fingertips, and is heavy-duty enough to be kept in your truck or pocket when in the field. It’s been a few years since we’ve had an updated version, so we’re excited to include some great new additions we’ve recently added to our broccoli line, such as Millennium, Diamante, Eastern Magic, Eastern Crown and Emerald Star.”

For a digital copy, visit Sakata’s website; physical copies will be debuted at next week’s trials, and available for direct mail thereafter.
Published in Research
July 27, 2017, Vineland, Ont – It’s been 10 years since a new horticultural research facility in Niagara Region was launched as the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland).

Since then, Vineland has been turning heads across Canada and internationally with its needs-based innovations. The organization reflects the entire horticulture value chain from farmers to consumers, and they’re not afraid to take big steps to help the industry solve problems.

“We started by understanding what needed to be done and how we needed to work to make a difference, which is real results with real impact from acres in the field to shelf space in the store,” says Vineland’s CEO, Dr. Jim Brandle.

Addressing the labour intensive nature of horticultural production was a need identified early on. Today, machines designed in Vineland’s robotics program and built in Ontario are coming into use in fruit and vegetable greenhouses, which Brandle says will go a long way in helping to keep growers competitive, as well as boost the local manufacturing and automation sector.
Sweet potatoes, okra and Asian eggplant are offering new market opportunities for growers and consumers eager to eat more locally produced food.

And Vineland’s rose breeding program made a big splash earlier this year when its Canadian Shield rose – a trademarked low-maintenance and winter hardy variety bred in Canada – was named Flower of the Year at Canada Blooms.

Another significant milestone was the construction of the largest, most modern horticultural research greenhouse in North America with commercial-scale height and growing rooms dedicated to horticulture, which opened in 2016 and was built around the needs of Canada’s greenhouse vegetable and flower growers.“Today, we’re commercializing innovations, from the Canadian Shield rose to new apple and pear varieties,” Brandle says. “We are having the kind of impact that we sought in those early days.”

Natural ways to control greenhouse pests – called biocontrols – are making a real difference to flower growers and a new technology that can identify genetic variants for traits in all plants has just been spun-off into a for-profit company.

“We’re creating a reputation and that alone is an achievement because we’re the new kid on the block,” he says. “We have a ton of good people with and around the organization and on our board who are making this happen.”Vineland is an important partner to the horticulture industry, according to Jan VanderHout, a greenhouse vegetable grower and Chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association.

“They are very good at asking us what we want and taking a whole value chain approach to research and innovation,” VanderHout says. “You need the right facilities and expertise and Vineland fills that need to the benefit of the industry as a whole.”

Looking to the future, both Brandle and VanderHout predict that cap and trade pressure and high energy costs will result in more work around energy use and carbon footprint reduction.And Vineland’s consumer-focused approaches will continue to drive new innovation, from high flavour greenhouse tomatoes to Ontario-grown apple varieties.

“We will further lever consumer-driven plant breeding and work with the intent around pleasing consumers and trying to understand what they want so we can build that into our selection criteria,” Brandle says.
Published in Profiles
July 13, 2017, P.E.I. - This year’s Canadian acreage of J.R. Simplot’s genetically engineered Innate potato will be “very small” to non-existent, according to a company spokesperson.

Kerwin Bradley, director of commercial innovation for Simplot, says the company’s marketing strategy for new varieties is based on customer polls and identification of marketing channels. “We don’t plant potatoes, or give seed to growers, until we know that there is a place for them to sell them, so how quickly that develops depends on how quickly we develop routes to market for those potatoes,” he says.

“That way we ensure we keep the risk really low for everybody, especially the growers.”

The company has been talking to major Canadian retailers to “check the pulse” of their interest in the new potato, says Doug Cole, Simpot’s director of marketing and communications.

First generation lines of the Innate potato, which boast lower bruising and acrylamide, were approved by Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency last spring. Second generation lines, which have late blight resistance and lower sugar levels for improved processing, have already been approved in the U.S., and Canadian approvals are expected later this year. READ MORE
Published in Vegetables
July 10, 2017, Quebec - Though cool, wet weather slowed Quebec’s early strawberry production and kept customers waiting longer than they would have liked, the results of the extended growing period are looking spectacular.

“June berries are right on time,” said Jennifer Crawford, interim director of the Quebec Strawberry and Raspberry Growers Association, which represents nearly 500 producers, “and we’re seeing beautiful, productive plants with tons of flowers and large berries.”

Joey Boudreault, business development manager for the Onésime Pouliot farm in Saint-Jean-de-l’Île-d’Orléans, Quebec, finished planting day neutral berries for the fall in mid-June and began harvesting June berries June 20. READ MORE
Published in Fruit
June 6, 2017, Charlottetown, PEI – As potato growers across P.E.I. plant this year's crop, many are using the latest GPS technology to guide them.

"I'd say probably 80 per cent of growers out there would have something like this," said Will MacNeill, owner of Atlantic Precision Agri-Services, in West Devon, P.E.I. READ MORE
Published in Planting
May 15, 2017, Augusta, ME – With little fanfare, the Maine Board of Pesticides Control recently approved the registration of three new types of genetically engineered potatoes that have been developed by a major Idaho agribusiness company.

The move means that the J.R. Simplot Co.’s Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet and Atlantic potatoes could be planted in Maine fields at any time. These potatoes were created by adding genes from a wild potato plant and are designed to be resistant to late blight. READ MORE
Published in Vegetables
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
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
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 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, 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
When a new crop takes off, it’s not unusual that specialty equipment is designed and commercialized in order to make things easier. In this case, the crop is garlic, and the equipment is a planter and an add-on under-cutter (both pulled behind a tractor), designed and manufactured by Garlic-EEZ of Dundalk, Ont., owned by garlic grower Ken Hunt.
Published in Equipment

June 8, 2016, South Rustico, PEI – A P.E.I. potato farmer has taken to social media to show people what exactly he does for a living.

"I have a bunch of friends that, you know, they just don't know what I do for a living," said Marten Nieuwhof. READ MORE

Published in Planting

May 19, 2015, Fresno, CA – Agrian announced recently that its cloud-based agriculture data management platform is now available for Canadian agriculture and food system businesses.

The recently released Agrian 6 software platform includes several new capabilities, all of which are designed to help growers, crop advisors, ag retailers and food processors manage, share and leverage farm data simply and efficiently.

Building on software platform, Agrian is now introducing its updated Agrian 6 software program for Canadian growers and agribusinesses. The platform brings together elements of precision agronomy, analytics, compliance and sustainability in a single farm data management system.

“One of the major challenges growers have with the recent proliferation of farm data technologies is the lack of a cohesive and unbiased source for comprehensive compliance, precision ag data management and recordkeeping,” said Nishan Majarian, CEO and founder of Agrian.

“There’s been an explosion of point solutions that provide just one piece of the precision ag puzzle, like equipment tracking, for instance. But that fragmentation has led to frustration from growers and agrifood professionals with having to use six or eight different apps or software programs to manage information that impacts their operation. That frustration is compounded when farmers can’t access all of the data points and records in unison.”

Agrian’s expanded software program is designed to accommodate all facets of precision ag data in one platform. With a single Agrian account, users can access a suite of customizable applications via computer, tablet or smartphone.

The Agrian 6 system is programmed to capture data on fertilizer applications; nutrient management; planting records; field scouting reports; spray records; integrated soil, tissue and water laboratory analysis; and asset tracking with wireless data transfer from field equipment.

The Agrian 6 mobile mapping application allows users to plot field samples and track inputs, scouting records, seeding rates, crop performance and yield records. The robust mapping features are customizable and can be used to document field-specific records and events.

Satellite imagery is available, capturing up to two-million square miles daily, and provides access to high-resolution, multispectral, in-season imagery for timely extraction of data that directly impact crop production and performance.

Agrian 6 dashboards can be easily customized to provide users with summary snapshots or detailed real-time reports on water use, fertilizer and chemical inputs. With permission from growers, the dashboards also allow for a network of users such as applicators, agronomists or ag retail partners to record their field-level activities. Growers can also program “alerts” so they are automatically notified when trigger points are reached or action is required.

“We’re excited about the design and architecture of Agrian 6,” said Chad Matthies, Canadian business manager for Agrian. “It’s very simple to use and it’s consistent across platforms. Whether you’re working on a desktop, tablet or phone, all the features look and function in the exact same manner. The feedback we’ve received from customers involved in beta testing has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Matthies added that every page has help capabilities built in, providing information directly to the user when they need it. Agrian also provides regular training webinars to help new and existing users customize the system to best suit the needs of their operation.

To date, commodity crop growers who have adopted data management and precision agronomy tools have done so to drive efficiency and optimize production. With few exceptions, their adoption has been optional.

But for produce growers, who are required to adhere closely to a myriad of governmental regulations and food company standards, using data management and compliance reporting systems like Agrian’s is, by and large, standard operating procedure as a means to efficiently document practices for compliance purposes.

Analysts foresee the potential for more demands being made on commodity crop growers for documentation of nutrients, chemicals and other applications. Increased pressure is being placed on the entire agrifood supply chain from consumers, voters, government, export markets and food retailers.

Greater emphasis is also being placed on environmental stewardship and sustainable farming practices. The rapid growth of markets for organics and other non-conventionally produced foods has also increased the number of growers documenting inputs.

“There’s no question the application of data and technology will continue to increase at a rapid pace, whether it’s for production efficiency, compliance reporting or documenting sustainability measures,” said Majarian. “The Agrian 6 platform is designed exclusively to help growers, ag retailers and food companies manage data in a unified format that contributes to the success of their businesses.”

Published in Companies

August 2, 2013 – Great Salt Lakes Minerals has launched a mobile tool designed to help potato growers and crop consultants make more accurate soil nutrient decisions and maximize yield potential.

The Potato Potassium Uptake Calculator is now available here or is available for download to an iPad device via the Apple App Store for iPad. Those who wish to download the application to an iPad can visit the Apple App Store. READ MORE

Published in Companies
June 7, 2013, Kunkletown, PA – Vineyard posts are essential to proper trellising, but they come at a cost, both ethically and fiscally. The wood in the post doesn’t come from anywhere but trees, and there are social concerns about to deforestation and overuse of natural resources.

Enter the recycled plastic vineyard post. Not only do they provide an ethical benefit in regards to deforestation issues, but they also stand the test of time better than any wood could.

“Vineyard poles are highly durable,” said inventor and manufacturer Patric Kelley. “They’re not susceptible to rot, termites, carpenter bees or other wood boring insects. They look good and function well for many, many years. Compare it to wood yourself. We think you will be pleasantly surprised.”

Where wood continues to rot and requires constant upkeep (and money), plastic requires very little, if any follow-up maintenance over the same lifespan.

One might express a concern about the plastic itself, and whether or not there are any chemicals that might be leached into the earth, especially when dealing with something as delicate as soil used for growing grapes. According to Kelley, unlike pressure treated wood, there are zero hazardous chemicals that could be leached from it.

With a dedication to helping preserve the environment and a desire to help others who are also committed to this goal, Close the Loop was established in October 2000 after much research. Products are made in the U.S. from recycled plastic scrap and waste wood fibre.

For more information, click here or check out Close the Loop on Facebook.

Published in Planting
May 10, 2013 - Being called "green" or "sustainable" are not words that Bill Redelmeier likes to use to describe Southbrook Vineyards, despite the fact that both words are quite apt. He and his wife Marilyn have owned the winery since 1991 and have recently won the 2012 InterVin International Wine Awards highest honour – Winery of the Year, for its innovative growing practices and fantastic product.

Redelmeier doesn't like to describe his operation using words such as "sustainable" because they have no standard definition, which can lead to greenwashing – where environmentally friendly words are used to deceive the consumer into the belief that a company's aims or policies are more ecologically aware than they actually are.

"When we started out, we set out to make the best wine possible," says Redelmeier. From the winery's move to Niagra in 2005, the Redelmeier's knew that they wanted to be holistic and self-sustaining, which lead them to pursue biodynamic growing practices. In September 2008, Southbrook was certified organic and biodynamic by Demeter International (http://www.demeter.net/), the first Canadian winery to do so, and officially began operations.

"We don't talk about anything unless it is certifiable or provable," he adds.

The process of biodynamic agriculture is simple, says Redelmeier. "It is based on the way people used to farm 100 years ago. So we plant, we harvest, we make wine using phases of the moon. The sprays we use in the vineyard are herbal teas. We run ruminants in the vineyard because that's important."

"Biodynamics is really all about treating the vineyard or farm as a single, living entity. The least input you can put in to the ground, the better."

In addition to farming biodynamically, Redelmeier tries to keep as much of his purchasing in Canada as he can. For example, some of the winery's bottles are made from reclaimed glass from Saxco International (http://www.saxco.com/), the clothing company Forsyth (https://www.careerapparel.ca/logon.do) makes the employee uniforms and they offer local farmers a market for their organic grapes. "I'm asking people to pay a little bit more – not a huge amount, but a little-bit more – to buy local wine, and I can't in good conscience ask someone to pay a little bit more to buy local if I don't do the same thing."

"If we all get together and pay a little bit more, then the whole world – or certainly our world – is a better place to be."
Published in Marketing
April 10, 2013 – Syngenta and MayAgro Seed have reached an agreement regarding the sale to Syngenta of MayAgro’s greenhouse vegetable breeding programs covering cucumber, pepper and tomatoes.

Under the terms of the agreement, Syngenta will acquire MayAgro’s breeding programs including all native traits developed to improve virus and disease resistance as well as boost yields under cold conditions.
Published in Companies
Mar. 22, 2013 - Newfoundland and Labrador is looking for a hot potato — a spectacular spud that will help kick start the expansion of local grow operations, bringing the province towards potato independence.

At present, the province relies on potato imports from tuber-rich places like Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. READ MORE
Published in Research
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