Tufts University engineers have demonstrated fruits can stay fresh for more than a week without refrigeration if they are coated in a silk solution
Grapes (Vitis vinifera) are the most widely cultivated horticultural crops in the world and the viticulture industry is developing rapidly in Canada. Ontario has approximately 17,000 acres of vineyards, and in recent years vineyards have been established in Norfolk County.
If you are looking to diversify your crops, consider okra and sweet potatoes, says Villiam Zvalo, a research scientist in vegetable production with the Vineland Research and Innovation Center in Ontario.
Sweet corn hybrids vary in their tolerance to crowding stress. New research identifies genes related to crowding stress tolerance and yield in sweet corn.
When someone tells you drones are about to revolutionize agriculture, believe them. More and more people in the farming industry believe that use of drone imagery will soon be standard practice on most major farms, helping to manage everything from potatoes to horticulture crops, grapes to field crops.
Honey Bee AirFLEX...
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.
Expert Dr. Susan Watkins discusses Water Sanitatio...
Expert Dr. Susan Watkins discusses Water Sanitation
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.
May 24, 2016, Saskatoon, Sask – Haskap berries might be the next new superfood — but most people haven’t heard of them. That’s because the berries, which are higher in antioxidants than blueberries, have traditionally been found only sporadically in the wild across Canada, growing mostly on the edge of wetlands. But Bob Bors aims to change that. READ MORE
May 24, 2016, Hannover, Germany – Sweet cherries are susceptible to a condition called cracking, in which the skin of the fruit is strained, causing fractures or cracks. The condition, which limits marketability of the fruit, may be a result of factors such as excessive water uptake or weak fruit skins. In a new study published in the Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science (March 2016) researchers examined the mechanical properties of different cherry cultivars to determine how these properties impact skin cracking. "Rain-induced cracking imposes a major limitation to (sweet cherry) production," said Moritz Knoche, corresponding author of the study. "Susceptibility to rain cracking differs among cultivars, but the mechanistic basis of differential cracking susceptibility among cultivars is not clear," he said, adding that cracking is likely related to water uptake into the fruit. "Water uptake leads to an increase in volume, causing the fruit surface area to increase. When the limits of extensibility are exceeded, the fruit is expected to crack." To determine why sweet cherry varieties have differing levels of susceptibility to cracking, Knoche and co-author Martin Brüggenwirth tested two sweet cherry cultivars using a biaxial tensile test to quantify key mechanical properties, and then investigated the mechanistic basis of differences between the two cultivars. The researchers designed experiments using Regina (a cultivar less-susceptible to cracking) and Burlat (a more-susceptible cultivar). "Because the fruits vary diurnally in diameter, and hence surface area, and because this may cause the skin to fatigue, we also investigated the effects of repeated loading and unloading cycles on the mechanical properties of the fruit skin of the two cultivars," the authors explained. The results of tensile tests showed that the mechanical properties of the skins of Regina and Burlat fruit differed: the skin of the less cracking-susceptible variety Regina was stiffer and had a higher fracture pressure than that of the more cracking-susceptible Burlat. Tests also revealed that repeated loading and unloading cycles did not cause the skin to fatigue in either cultivar. "The pressures at fracture were of a similar order of magnitude to those reported previously for both cell and fruit turgor. However, the strains at fracture, resulting from surface area increase following water uptake (0.3 to 1.1 per cent), were markedly lower in the cracking assay than in the biaxial tensile tests," the authors said. They noted that the reason for this discrepancy is unknown and should be studied further. "These results suggest that cell wall physical (and possibly also chemical) properties account for the cultivar differences in skin mechanical properties, and hence in cracking susceptibility." The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. electronic journal web site: http://journal.ashspublications.org/content/141/2/162.abstract
Since a blueberry is mostly water, any touch has the potential to bruise it. While most human pickers are gentle enough to pick the berries without bruising them, the same cannot be said for mechanical pickers. Bruising is almost guaranteed when berries drop more than 30 cm onto a hard surface, generally the case on today’s picking machines. As more growers turn to machine picking to offset the increasing cost and decreasing availability of labour, bruising has become more of an issue. Researchers have developed a new BIRD (blueberry impact recording device) sensor to more accurately measure bruising in mechanical pickers and on packing lines. Roughly the size and shape of a blueberry, the BIRD weighs about six grams and can be dropped in a machine just like a blueberry. “It’s very good at measuring impact,” says U.S. Department of Agriculture research horticulturist Fumiomi Takeda, who is based at the Appalachian Fruit Station in West Virginia. The BIRD has shown that no two packing lines are the same and has pinpointed transition points as creating the most impacts. Even if each impact is small, the cumulative effect of multiple impacts is enough to create bruising and reduce overall fruit quality. While the BIRD sensed little damage in hand harvesting, it found severe impacts in picking machines, particularly from the catch plates. Even if bruises aren’t apparent to the naked eye, they exist, Takeda told growers and packers at the recent Pacific Agriculture Show in Abbotsford, B.C. “Ten per cent of the [machine-picked] fruit you put into cold storage is damaged.” Primary ways to lessen bruising are to develop a firmer berry that can stand up to machine picking or to build a picking machine that can handle berries more delicately. Berry breeders, researchers and engineers are working on both options. “Growers have identified machine harvestability and firmer fruit as their highest priority and that’s one trait we’re focusing on,” says B.C. berry breeder Michael Dossett. Success is still a long way away. The commercial release of a new variety can take up to 15 years and the B.C. blueberry breeding program is in its ninth year. Even if Dossett releases a new variety in the next six years, there is no indication his earliest selections have the firmness growers want and need. Takeda says engineers are making some headway, noting they have created a new catcher plate design that “virtually eliminates bruising.” Another promising design picks from the top using angled rotors and drops the berries onto a soft surface. “It has the same fruit quality as hand harvesting,” Takeda says. Researchers have also tried a walk-a-long unit (not much improvement) and a semi-mechanical machine with multiple shakers to eliminate some of the mechanical movement. Last year, Naturipe Farms – one of the world’s leading blueberry growers and marketers – issued the Blue Challenge, inviting “innovators, developers and technology integrators to help transform the way we will harvest blueberries in the future.” It has promised $10,000 and a joint development agreement for up to five semi-finalists, which were selected in January and February. The first person to deliver a working prototype with a demonstrable ability to be a viable commercial automated system will receive a $200,000 prize. While they await a winner, Takeda says one thing growers can do is pad their catch plates so berries don’t drop straight onto hard plastic. Packers should also consider rejigging their lines to reduce the number of transition points.