Category Archives: apples

When the time is ripe: New, natural formula helps farmers manage harvest time

Tree in front with fruit sprayed; trees to the left and right not sprayed

By Lisa McLean

Vineland – Why do the best fruits seem to have the shortest shelf life? It’s a challenge that plagues fresh fruit markets around the world, and has real implications for consumers and fruit growers.

Now, new research from University of Guelph has led to the development of a product that extends the shelf life of fresh fruits by days and even weeks, and it is showing promise in food insecure regions around the world.

“In people and in fruit, skin shrinks with age — it’s part of the life cycle, as the membranes start losing their tightness,” said Jay Subramanian, Professor of Tree Fruit Breeding and Biotechnology at the University of Guelph, who works from the Vineland research station. “Now we know the enzymes responsible for that process can be slowed.”

The secret, according to Subramanian, is in hexanal, a compound that is naturally produced by every plant in the world. His lab has developed a formulation that includes a higher concentration of hexanal to keep fruit fresh for longer.

Subramanian’s research team began experimenting with applying their formula to sweet cherry and peaches in the Niagara region. They found they were able to extend the shelf life of both fruits and spraying the formula directly on the plant prior to harvest worked as well as using it as a dip for newly harvested fruit. Continue reading

Record keeping software helps growers manage all aspects of their business

By Matt McIntosh

Kingston ON – Farming is a complex business, and keeping track of everything can sometimes be troublesome, if not a bit overwhelming.

With this in mind, Kingston-based software company Dragonfly IT developed Croptracker – a multi-faceted, cloud-based monitoring system designed to give fruit and vegetable growers real-time updates on their businesses.

“Croptracker offers an easy-to-use software package that monitors growing practices throughout the season,” said Matthew Deir, company founder. “Growers sign up for our system and can access all of their daily inputs from one central hub. It helps both traceability and cost saving.” Continue reading

Seed fund investment helps local gourmet food processor double sales in only one year

This week’s story comes to us from Bioenterprise.

By Lilian Schaer

Guelph, Ontario-based Rootham Gourmet Preserves has a long history of sourcing locally grown fruits and vegetables and partnering with local farms and businesses.

As the local food movement took hold, owner Will Rootham-Roberts started seeing increased interest in locally made and sourced small-batch gourmet condiments. He recognized an opportunity for the family-owned company to expand and offer Ontario farmers the possibility of creating and selling shelf-stable jams, jellies and sauces from their own locally grown produce.

But he needed help turning that vision into reality – help he received from Bioenterprise in the form of a grant from the Bioenterprise Seed Fund.

“Thanks to Bioenterprise, we were able to expand our processing capabilities and undertake a direct marketing campaign to promote our services to potential customers,” said Rootham-Roberts. 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

Keeping an invasive new fruit pest under control

Spotted Wing Drosophila under the microscope - webBy Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Click here to watch video

Simcoe, Ontario – A new invasive vinegar fly is threatening Ontario’s soft-skinned berry and tender fruit crops. But thanks to the Ontario Farm Innovation Program (OFIP), researchers and farmers are learning more about Spotted Wing Drosophila and how they can keep the pest from destroying their fruit.

Unlike common vinegar flies that are attracted to spoiled fruit, Spotted Wing Drosophila goes after healthy fruit just before harvest. It lays eggs underneath the skin of intact fruit, and as the larvae feed, the fruit tissue breaks down and becomes soft and leaky, resulting in decreased fruit quality and yield.

“Spotted Wing Drosophila has been on the radar in North America since 2010 and it was first identified in Ontario late that year following identification in other provinces and in the United States,” explains Hannah Fraser, Horticulture Entomology Program Lead with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Continue reading