Fruit & Vegetable

Fruit & Vegetable
Texas researching designer potatoes

Texas researching designer potatoes

A decline in overall potato consumption has Texas A&M AgriLife Research breeders working on “designer” spuds.

Organic apple orchards benefit from green compost applications

Organic apple orchards benefit from green compost applications

In traditional apple orchards, effective management practices rely on two interrelated components.

Spurred on to greater things

Spurred on to greater things

The Nova Scotia Fruit Growers’ Association annual tour participants had an opportunity to talk crop load, peach thinning, apple rootstocks and pears during an orchard stop at the Spurr Brothers’ orchard in Melvern Square, N.S.

Consumers still confuse local with organic

Consumers still confuse local with organic

Nearly one in five consumers still confuse the terms local and organic a University of Florida (UF) researcher says.

Frogs on the vine

Frogs on the vine

What do frog eggs have to do with a mildew that hurts wine production? More than you think when you mix them in the lab.

video
North American Manure Expo comes to Canada...
For the first time ever, the North American Manure Expo is being hosted within a Canadian province. The annual show is being held August 20 and 21, 2013, at the University of Guelph’s Arkell Research Station, located near Guelph, Ontario. So, what's a Manure Expo and why should you attend? This video will provide all the dirt.
video
Expert Dr. Susan Watkins discusses Water Sanitatio...
Expert Dr. Susan Watkins discusses Water Sanitation
video
The population explosion...
With the world's population increasing exponentially and farmland staying the same, BASF took to the streets to ask consumers if this trend is sustainable.
video
Lily Tamburic...
Lily Tamburic

Chemicals

Ont. Spotted Wing Drosophila update Ont. Spotted Wing Drosophila update

August 18, 2014, Simcoe, Ont – Spotted wing drosophila is now present throughout most of Ontario. With the exception of northern Ontario (i.e. North Bay, Sudbury and further north), most berry growers should assume this pest is present on their farm. We do not have enough traps to definitely say if SWD is a problem in northern Ontario or not – so growers there should be on the look-out. Do salt tests and check fruit for damage on a regular basis. Otherwise, we have trapped SWD at most sites across Ontario and numbers are really ramping up. At some sites, where strawberries and cherries have been harvested and there are no other berry crops on the farm, numbers have increased to more than 1,000 per trap. To me, this means that SWD has completed at least one generation at the end of harvest for these fruit crops and is now moving to other susceptible crops. OMAF have been rearing SWD from fruit collected weekly at some sites. For the first time, we have reared SWD from blueberries (collected July 31) and day neutral strawberries (collected July 28). Growers have reported signs of SWD damage in their commercial blueberry crops for the first time this season. From our samples, we know that SWD has been present in wild hosts since July 11. All growers with susceptible fruit should be actively managing SWD, using all of the following strategies: Weekly insecticide applications with a registered product. http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/swd-registrations.pdf Frequent and thorough harvest of all ripe fruit in the field. This means going over raspberries daily except for days missed due to pesticide application, strawberries every two to three days and blueberries as often as possible. Immediate cooling of harvested product. A few more tips: Malathion is an effective product for SWD but residual control drops quickly, especially after rain. Delegate and, for organic growers, Entrust, are excellent options for SWD now that the pressure is high. Insecticides for SWD work because they are killing adult flies in the field. The adults are killed when they contact treated fruit and foliage in the field. Do not spray wild hosts or forest edges. Producers can use salt tests to check for the presence of larvae in harvested fruit. These tests provide important follow-up information on the effectiveness of management programs. How to help? Feedback is needed. Please help us assess the economic cost of SWD to business by sharing notes on crop losses and extra expenses to manage SWD. How can we help? We have been monitoring for SWD since 2011, thanks to funding from the Ontario Berry Growers Association, the Ontario Highbush Blueberry Growers Association and considerable help from OMAF staff and consultants in the field. Funding is nearing its end. What is important for next year? Please send comments to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and/or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Production

Ont. Spotted Wing Drosophila update Ont. Spotted Wing Drosophila update

August 18, 2014, Simcoe, Ont – Spotted wing drosophila is now present throughout most of Ontario. With the exception of northern Ontario (i.e. North Bay, Sudbury and further north), most berry growers should assume this pest is present on their farm. We do not have enough traps to definitely say if SWD is a problem in northern Ontario or not – so growers there should be on the look-out. Do salt tests and check fruit for damage on a regular basis. Otherwise, we have trapped SWD at most sites across Ontario and numbers are really ramping up. At some sites, where strawberries and cherries have been harvested and there are no other berry crops on the farm, numbers have increased to more than 1,000 per trap. To me, this means that SWD has completed at least one generation at the end of harvest for these fruit crops and is now moving to other susceptible crops. OMAF have been rearing SWD from fruit collected weekly at some sites. For the first time, we have reared SWD from blueberries (collected July 31) and day neutral strawberries (collected July 28). Growers have reported signs of SWD damage in their commercial blueberry crops for the first time this season. From our samples, we know that SWD has been present in wild hosts since July 11. All growers with susceptible fruit should be actively managing SWD, using all of the following strategies: Weekly insecticide applications with a registered product. http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/swd-registrations.pdf Frequent and thorough harvest of all ripe fruit in the field. This means going over raspberries daily except for days missed due to pesticide application, strawberries every two to three days and blueberries as often as possible. Immediate cooling of harvested product. A few more tips: Malathion is an effective product for SWD but residual control drops quickly, especially after rain. Delegate and, for organic growers, Entrust, are excellent options for SWD now that the pressure is high. Insecticides for SWD work because they are killing adult flies in the field. The adults are killed when they contact treated fruit and foliage in the field. Do not spray wild hosts or forest edges. Producers can use salt tests to check for the presence of larvae in harvested fruit. These tests provide important follow-up information on the effectiveness of management programs. How to help? Feedback is needed. Please help us assess the economic cost of SWD to business by sharing notes on crop losses and extra expenses to manage SWD. How can we help? We have been monitoring for SWD since 2011, thanks to funding from the Ontario Berry Growers Association, the Ontario Highbush Blueberry Growers Association and considerable help from OMAF staff and consultants in the field. Funding is nearing its end. What is important for next year? Please send comments to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and/or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Business/Policy

Feds invest to grow new blueberry markets Feds invest to grow new blueberry markets

August 14, 2014, Napan, NB – Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz recently announced an investment of more than $1,700,000 to the Wild Blueberry Association of North America to be used to market and promote Canadian wild blueberries internationally. The investment will help the wild blueberry sector to access new, and boost existing, foreign markets. Marketing campaigns targeted at the United States, European Union and East Asia will promote the benefits of using Canadian wild blueberries. In addition outreach to trade representatives and consumers will occur through meetings, trade shows, and incoming missions to Canada. “For over 30 years, the Wild Blueberry Association of North America Canada has had the mandate to promote the use and consumption of Canadian Wild Blueberries around the world,” said Neri Vautour, executive director of the Wild Blueberry Association of North America Canada (WBANA). “WBANA Canada members have been fortunate to be able to work in partnership with the Federal Government and with cost sharing programs, such as the AgriMarketing Program, to increase worldwide demand, continue to develop and expand our wild blueberry industry and to create a much stronger rural economy in Canada.” Wild blueberry production in Canada has increased to meet export demand, which, over the past 10 years, has grown by over $40 million. In 2013, wild blueberries generated close to $196 million in export sales.

Equipment

The idea for the subsurface irrigation concept started with the installation of a simple lawn watering system at the home farm. Robert Judge and Todd Boughner planned a field irrigation pattern, sourced components, and began designing and building the equipment. J&S Judge Farms

The weather has traditionally always been a troublesome and challenging aspect in farming. It was a couple of years ago that the particular weather challenges – the heat and drought of 2012 – became a turning point at J&S Judge Farms in Norfolk County, Ont. It was at that point they decided to go ahead with removing much of the influence of weather over the harvest on their farm. Field corn crop failure was a sad and stressful reality that year and owner Robert Judge and farm manager Todd Boughner didn’t want to see it happening again – ever. That year, they installed their farm-created subsurface drip irrigation system on 75 acres of their LaSalette farm (a purchased farm near their home farm). It’s a state-of-the-art wireless system that is now in the early stages of commercialization – and an economically-feasible approach worth looking at for field crop, tobacco, orchard and vegetable operations in Ontario and beyond. The creation of the system has also gained Judge Farms a Premier’s Award in agricultural innovation. What happened in 2012 was a tipping point of sorts, a culmination that built on research and development that had already been going on for two years – spurred on by the sandy soil type of the farm, concern over future weather patterns and a desire for better and more stable economic returns. “We are on what is called the Sand Plain of Norfolk County,” explains Boughner. “Normal yield per acre for corn is around 150 bushels, but on this land, we’ve been settling for 100 bushels per acre. That is not economically sustainable.” Their quest to do better started four years ago with testing drought-resistant corn varieties, and a variety of projects completed alone and in partnership with various companies, researchers and suppliers. Over time, the focus came to rest on creating a system that optimizes water resources, economics and labour. In addition to growing field crops (soybean and corn are the focus), Judge Farms also produce pork and poultry. J&S Judge Farms also has eight year-round and two seasonal employees on the home farm, who are all highly valued for their expertise and experience. The subsurface irrigation concept all started with the installation of a simple lawn watering system at the home farm. “It made us think about the possibilities,” says Boughner. “We started having discussions with local irrigation suppliers about subsurface systems for crops, but there was no data or experience with these types of systems anywhere near Canada – just in the southern U.S. where the heat is so strong. The only thing here was surface drip irrigation.” Robert and Todd realized that if they wanted to proceed, they would have to blaze the trail. They planned a field irrigation pattern, sourced components, and began designing and building the equipment. “It took time to determine an optimum irrigation schedule, and to create a wireless monitoring system to regulate water flow,” Boughner says. “We had input from local suppliers and Netafilm of Florida. Blake Farm Equipment in Simcoe who had previous interest and experience helped in applicator design and system developments.” They would also require a farm pond, which they created but then needed a permit to draw from. “The small water usage requirements with sub-surface irrigation made it easier to obtain the water-taking permit in comparison to conventional technologies,” Boughner explains. “It’s about half the water usage. A pond that supplies at least 100 acres of overhead watering can supply 200 to 250 acres of sub-surface drip. The whole farm can receive 0.24 inches of water in 18 hours with no labour involved. It’s all automatic.” While the capital cost is about $1,500 per acre, Boughner says the system will reach cost return in a few years. They can reasonably forecast an increase in corn yields by 100 bushels per acre, and at $7 per bushel, that brings quick returns. Boughner notes that the farm business income will increase dramatically, and the ongoing workload and operational cost is minimal. Only one person is needed to monitor the system, and it will be 15 to 20 years before major replacement work will be needed. This farmer-developed and proven technology is attracting a great deal of farmer interest. “Alleviating moisture stress not only helps ensure a good harvest, but also enhances overall plant health, so they are better able to withstand disease and insects,” Boughner says. “Tobacco farmers are interested, and orchard farmers want to install it in new plantings to optimize success and protect drip tape from rodent damage. Vegetable farmers are interested too. It’s all about minimizing labour while maximizing yields and so who would not be interested? Farmers are willing to invest in improvement to their land more rapidly than we thought would happen.” Supplier companies are also interested, but Boughner says they are moving forward at a sensible prudent pace. He says suppliers need to develop application equipment of sub-surface drip tape that is wear-resistant and adaptable to different width rows, depth of tape, soil conditions and so on. “We foresee that farmers will install the system either by renting the equipment and doing it themselves or getting a company to custom-install,” Boughner notes. “Having this system fully commercialized will tie in existing irrigation suppliers that have a knowledge base and inventory, but they must be ready to service, design, and install the system. We feel that landscape and drainage companies might also be beneficial partners in the future to build the market for the technology.” Farm equipment suppliers might also be involved, as well as researchers, seed stock companies and chemical companies. The drip tape and supplies used in the Judge Farms installation was sourced from a local supplier, but Boughner notes that local manufacture could create jobs as well.   “Farmers have a challenging time these days, and if they can maximize underutilized owned or rented land in close proximity to the home farm, that is very beneficial to the bottom line,” he says. “Land values are escalating at a rapid pace making maximum utilization of every acre important.” He explains that the Sand Plains on which Judge Farm sits extend from Ayr (by Kitchener) to Simcoe up to Aylmer and along the north shore of Lake Erie. “Many thousands of acres are grown on coarse-textured sand plains in Ontario and in the U.S., and drip irrigation is a viable option,” Boughner notes. “Maximizing the utilization of [this area] is not just a local issue. We hope that this technology will provide a better future for farmers, and off-farm jobs as well.”