Category Archives: fruit

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

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

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

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