Category Archives: vegetables

Asian eggplant: one of Ontario’s newest local foods

Asian and Indian eggplant - web
By Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Vineland, Ontario – Chinese long and Indian round eggplant are one of Ontario’s newest locally grown vegetable crops, thanks to ongoing research at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland).

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Some quantities of field-grown Canadian Asian eggplant are already available at retail stores in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec, but researchers at Vineland are also working on developing year-round greenhouse production of the veggies.

Vineland’s World Crops program started in 2008 with a series of projects to evaluate different vegetable crops popular with new Canadians from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Okra and eggplant were ultimately selected as the two most promising crops based on potential volumes and growing ability in Ontario. Continue reading

Meals on Mars: Life in space – and on earth – relies on plants

Mike Dixon with plants growing in a controlled envrionment - webBy Lisa McLean for AgInnovation Ontario

Guelph – Plants are hardier than people. It’s a lesson Dr. Mike Dixon has learned in his lab, where he grows plants under “weird” conditions. Someday, astronauts will apply his research to growing food crops in space, but today his findings are benefiting Earth.

Dixon is Director of the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility at the University of Guelph. The lab is the most advanced facility of its kind in the world, housing equipment such as hypobaric chambers that allow researchers to experiment with unusual growth conditions such as reduced atmospheric pressure. Continue reading

Lighting the way to year-round greenhouse veggie harvest

Supplemental lighting shining on peppers - webBy Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

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Leamington – Ontario’s greenhouse vegetable growers are experimenting with new lighting systems in hopes of being able to harvest locally grown vegetables year round.

There isn’t enough natural sunlight in southern Ontario during the fall and winter months to take a greenhouse pepper crop through to harvest.

This led the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG) to access funding through the Ontario Farm Innovation Program (OFIP) for research to evaluate the effectiveness of supplemental light from overhead High Pressure Sodium (HPS) light bulbs and LED bulbs at plant level. Continue reading

Robots could soon be harvesting Ontario greenhouse veggies

Medhat Moussa and the robotic arm - web
By Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Guelph – A University of Guelph engineering professor has been developing a labour-saving solution for greenhouse vegetables growers that he is now ready to put to the test in a working greenhouse – a human-sized robot that will harvest produce and remove leaves from plants.

The prototype is armed with visioning technology that allows it to identify whether produce is ripe for harvest or not, as well as a special pick up arm that will let it gently yet firmly pluck the vegetables from the vines without damaging them.

“You are dealing with non-rigid objects like tomatoes and you will end up with ketchup if you’re not careful, so you need a very sensitive gripper that is not high cost but is also fast,” explains Dr. Medhat Moussa. Continue reading

More Ontario potatoes on Ontario plates

Varieties being tested - webBy Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario – Watch the video

Elora, Ontario – Ontario’s potato growers have teamed up with researchers at the University of Guelph to identify new potato varieties that grow well in this province and are both tasty and nutritious to consumers.

The early fresh potato market in Ontario – the first potatoes of the season to come to market, generally in early July – is dominated by round, white potatoes. Very few early red or yellow potato varieties, which have more nutritional value-added potential, are currently available to be grown in Ontario.

“The early fresh market is very valuable, worth about $4 million a year, so we are looking to identify and establish red and yellow varieties for this market that are grown in Ontario, and adapted to the Ontario market and climate,” explains Vanessa Currie, a Research Technician in the University of Guelph Department of Plant Agriculture working on the project, which is supported by the Ontario Farm Innovation Program. Continue reading