The search for new fresh grape varieties for Ontario


By Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Vineland – The Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland), driven by demand from nurseries and grape growers, is leading the charge to find new table grape varieties for the Ontario market.

To date, Ontario’s main homegrown fresh table grape is Sovereign Coronation, a semi-seedless blue grape that’s ready for market over a six to eight week period in late summer and early fall.

“It’s challenging to have such a short season with only one variety. That’s what led growers and nurseries to ask if there is anything else out there that could extend their season and provide retailers with different grapes,” explains Michael Kauzlaric, Technology Scout and Grower Outreach at Vineland.

That demand by Ontario grape growers prompted Vineland to begin scouting for varieties that could grow well in Ontario’s climate as well as meet taste, quality and appearance needs. Continue reading

Ontario co-op worldwide leader in edible beans

By Kelly Daynard for AgInnovation Ontario

(Hensall) – When you drive into Hensall, Ontario, just off the shores of Lake Huron, the elevators at Hensall District Co-operative Inc. (HDC) are the first thing you see.

Towering over the small town, they’re an indication of the importance of the business to the rural community – but their significance is much greater than that.

HDC is one of the largest agricultural co-operatives in Ontario and a worldwide leader in the edible dry bean and food grade soybean business.

HDC’s history dates back to 1937 when a group of farmers joined together to form the “South Huron Farmers’ Co-op”. Continue reading

The 10 most popular innovation stories of 2016

By Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Guelph – As we prepare to welcome a new year, here’s a quick look back at our most popular news stories of 2016, based on you, our readers.AgInnovation Ontario logo

(By the way, our French-speaking readers have slightly different preferences – click here for our most popular French language stories)

    1. Ontario company launches made-for-farming drone technology – https://www.aginnovationontario.ca/en/ontario-company-launches-made-for-farming-drone-technology/
    2. Haskap berry new crop opportunity for northern farmers, communities – https://www.aginnovationontario.ca/en/haskap-berry-new-crop-opportunity-for-northern-farmers-communities/
    3. Ontario’s locally grown citrus – https://www.aginnovationontario.ca/en/ontarios-locally-grown-citrus/

    Continue reading

    Do-it-yourself blueberries coming to a garden centre near you

    By Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

    Vineland – Ontarians will soon be able to easily grow blueberries on their own balconies or patios.

    That’s thanks to an agricultural innovation made possible by Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative, and the Canadian Ornamental Horticulture Alliance.

    Demand for more edible potted plants combined with heightened consumer interest in food production led researchers at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) to work on new technology to allow consumers to more easily grow plants in containers.

    Dr. Youbin Zheng and his team have developed a new organic growing material – known in the plant-growing world as substrate – that is specifically suited to growing plants like blueberries or other small fruits in containers instead of in gardens. Continue reading

    Keeping the crunch in Ontario apples

    By Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

    Simcoe – A newly developed technology could result in longer storage life for apples and better quality fruit when they come out of cold storage.

    Apples have long been stored in low oxygen environments – called controlled atmosphere storage – to keep them fresher longer and allow Ontario apple growers to market fresh fruit all winter long and not just during the fall harvest season.

    But it’s never been possible to determine how low the oxygen levels for a specific variety can go before the fruit’s quality begins to suffer – until now.

    SafePod measures apples’ response to atmospheric stress by monitoring their respiration rate while they are in storage, allowing storage operators to use the lowest safe oxygen concentration possible.

    “Fruit respires using oxygen, just the way people do, and as you lower the oxygen level in their storage environment, they become stressed,” explains Dr. Jennifer DeEll, Fresh Market Quality Specialist – Horticultural Crops with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).

    “At their breaking point when they can’t tolerate the low oxygen level any more, they switch to anaerobic respiration, which is fermentation,” she says. “You want to be able to get that oxygen level as low as possible while still maintaining safe levels because the lower the oxygen, the firmer the fruit and the better the quality.” Continue reading