Fruit & Vegetable

Fruit & Vegetable
Developing made-in-Ontario sweet potatoes

Developing made-in-Ontario sweet potatoes

The sweet potato craze is one of the latest food trends to sweep our nation. Canadian demand for the tuber has sky rocketed, reaching heights that exceed demand

Genetic toolkit finds new maximum for crop yields

Genetic toolkit finds new maximum for crop yields

Scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) recently announced a new way to dramatically increase crop yields by improving upon Mother Nature’s offerings

Tool helps track insects blowing in the wind

Tool helps track insects blowing in the wind

ARS researchers have discovered that weather-reporting Doppler radar can also track corn earworms.

Growing new produce for new Canadians

Growing new produce for new Canadians

Canada’s changing demographics are creating new market opportunities for farmers looking to expand their businesses.

Humidity increases mold pressure in raspberries

Humidity increases mold pressure in raspberries

Continued humid conditions with moderate to warm temperatures are promoting Botrytis gray mold infection in fall raspberries.

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Honey Bee AirFLEX...
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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.
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Expert Dr. Susan Watkins discusses Water Sanitatio...
Expert Dr. Susan Watkins discusses Water Sanitation
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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.

Chemicals

Katherine Borkovich is a professor of plant pathology at UC Riverside. Photo by I. Pittalwala, UC Riverside. Shouqiang Ouyang (left), the first author of the research paper, and Katherine Borkovich examine research data in the lab. To wilt or not to wilt

  Plant breeders have long identified and cultivated disease-resistant varieties. A research team at the University of California, Riverside has now revealed a new molecular mechanism for resistance and susceptibility to a common fungus that causes wilt in susceptible tomato plants. The study results appeared Oct. 16 in PLOS Pathogens. Katherine Borkovich, a professor of plant pathology and the chair of the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, and colleagues started with two closely related tomato cultivars: Moneymaker is susceptible to the wilting fungus Fusarium oxysporum whereas Motelle is resistant. In their search for what makes the two different, the researchers focused on microRNAs, small molecules that act by regulating the expression of a variety of genes, including genes involved in plant immunity. They treated roots from the two cultivars with water or with a solution containing F. oxysporum and looked for microRNAs that were increased in response to the fungus in Moneymaker (where they would inhibit resistance genes) or decreased in Motelle (where they would allow expression of resistance genes). They identified two candidate microRNAs whose levels went down in Motelle after treatment with the fungus. Because microRNAs inhibit their targets by binding to them, computer searches can find target genes with complementary sequences. Such a search for targets of the two microRNAs identified four candidates in the tomato genome, and all four resembled known plant resistance genes. “When we compared the levels of the four potential targets in the two cultivars after exposure to the fungus, we found that all four were up-regulated in response to F. oxysporum – but only in Motelle; the levels in Moneymaker were unchanged,” said Borkovich, the corresponding author of the study. To test whether up-regulation of the target genes was indeed what made Motelle resistant, Borkovich and her colleagues employed a virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) system that can down-regulate specific genes in tomato. After exposure to F. oxysporum, disease symptoms, including leaf wilting, were seen in VIGS Motelle plants that silenced any one of the four genes. Although the symptoms were not as severe as in Moneymaker plants, this suggested that all four targets contribute to resistance. “Taken together,” Borkovich and her co-authors conclude, “our findings suggest that Moneymaker is highly susceptible, because its potential resistance is insufficiently expressed due to the action of microRNAs.” Moreover, “because the four identified targets are different from the only known resistance gene for F. oxysporum in tomato,” they say, “there is much to learn about the immune response to an important pathogen family that infects numerous crop plants.” Borkovich was joined in the research by Shouqiang Ouyang (first author of the research paper), Gyungsoon Park, Hagop S. Atamian, Jason Stajich and Isgouhi Kaloshian at UC Riverside; and Cliff S. Han at Los Alamos National Laboratory. “Next, we would like to find out if any of the microRNAs we identified are conserved in additional plant species that are infected by other F. oxysporum strains,” Borkovich said. “We are interested, too, in identifying the proteins and genes in the fungus that are important for regulating expression of these microRNAs in one cultivar but not the other.  In other words, what is it about the fungus that the plant is sensing?” The research was supported by seed funding to Borkovich, Kaloshian and Han from the Los Alamos National Laboratory-UC Riverside Collaborative Program in Infectious Disease. The purpose of the seed project was to explore the molecular basis of plant diseases caused by microorganisms.      

Business/Policy

MP Harold Albrecht, Kevin Martin, president of Martin’s Family Fruit Farm, and Peter Katona, marketing and sales manager at Martin’s Family Fruit Farm, at the announcement. Federal government supports food processing technology

  Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Member of Parliament Harold Albrecht (Kitchener-Conestoga), on behalf of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, recently announced an investment of $713,000 to Martin’s Family Fruit Farm to adapt innovative processing equipment for the slicing and dehydration of fresh vegetables into chips. With this support, Martin’s Family Fruit Farm will build on their expertise in producing dehydrated crispy apple chips to include vegetables. The company will use its processing facility in Elmira, Ont., to develop and pilot test drying on four vegetable varieties, including sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots and tomatoes. The company will also design and install processing equipment for large-scale production. This project will help create jobs and increase demand for local vegetables, leading to increased profitability for farmers. “Martin’s Family Fruit Farm is delighted to partner with the Government of Canada’s AgriInnovation Program to research the dehydration of various vegetables into crispy chips,” said Kevin Martin, president of Martin’s Family Fruit Farm. “This research could help launch a new line of all natural, healthy snacks, expanding Martin’s current product offering. The project is a timely support for the innovation required to maintain Martin’s leadership in this new snack category.” Martin’s Family Fruit Farm was incorporated in 1987 and grows, packs, wholesales and processes Ontario apples with more than 700 acres in production. The company had previously received a federal investment of $1.4 million to help create a new processing line for apple crisps and cider and to support the commercialization of apple chips as a new snack food. “When we think about innovation in Waterloo Region, we usually think about computers and digital media,” said MP Albrecht. “Martin’s Family Fruit Farms are a shining example of the innovation occurring at the farm gate. Our government is proud to partner with them, strengthening one our region’s largest sectors of economic activity: agriculture.”      

Equipment

TOMRA Sorting Solutions launches new potato sorter TOMRA Sorting Solutions launches new potato sorter

September 3, 2014 – TOMRA Sorting Solutions recently released its new sensor-based systems to sort and process potato products at Potato Europe. The company demonstrated the Field Potato Sorter (FPS) and displayed the Halo sorter at Potato Europe, in Bockerode, near Hanover, Germany. “This is the first successful high throughput optical sorting solution in the industry for unwashed potatoes. The system enables growers, processors and packer companies to lower labour and potato storage costs significantly while raising product quality and yield,” explained Jim Frost, market unit manager, TOMRA Sorting Food.“ "Utilizing unique biometric signature identification technology, the FPS provides a representation of the visible and near infrared spectral zones, which allows it to analyze and identify organic characteristics and compositions of all objects. It can therefore distinguish clumps of dirt, stones, foreign material and rot from potatoes, even those with substantial soil covering.” Frost said the machine could be used for different varieties and sizes of unwashed potato while process and packer customers can use the data the machine produces for predictive analysis, to achieve purposes such as optimizing production lines. “The FPS is replacing hard-to-find manpower needed to clean the product stream going into and out of potato storage. The robust, weatherproof and user-friendly system is compact and available in various widths to fit all specific capacities up to 70,000 kilos an hour. The sorting machine is compatible with other potato grading equipment, but can also be used on its own to sort harvested potatoes, before or after storage.”