Category Archives: Vineland

Growing Canada’s emerging sweet potato industry

By Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Vineland – Canada’s first sweet potato variety is expected for release next year. And now work is underway to ensure Canadian farmers can also access sweet potato cuttings – called slips – right here at home.

To help meet booming Canadian demand for sweet potatoes, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) is developing new varieties that grow well in Canada’s cooler climate and shorter growing season.

About 1,700 acres of the healthy tuber are currently grown in Canada – mostly in southern Ontario’s Norfolk County – but they’re all longer season varieties from the southern United States.

That’s also where Canada’s growers are getting their sweet potato slips every spring to plant their crops, but they can be in short supply and quality could be compromised.

“Canadian sweet potato growers use U.S. propagators and breeding programs because we don’t have the infrastructure and varieties here,” said research scientist Viliam Zvalo of Vineland. “Also, slip propagation has to be started in March when the ground could still be frozen in Canada. Our challenge is to figure out how we can produce them here so we can supply Canadian growers with quality slips at a reasonable price.” Continue reading

Canada’s changing face presents opportunity for Ontario flower growers

By Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Vineland – Immigrants coming to Canada bring with them not only their own culture and food, but also distinct floral preferences. As Canada’s demographic makeup changes, this means new opportunity for flower growers in this country.

Researchers at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) in collaboration with Ontario grocery chain Longo’s have identified a particular opportunity for jasmine – Jasminum sambac specifically – and  are now working with flower grower Westbrook Floral to bring the first Ontario-grown jasmine plants to market this spring.

“There is a very different flower culture in Asia compared to the Western tradition, especially with Hindu and Buddhist religions,” said Dr. Alexandra Grygorczyk, a consumer insights researcher at Vineland. “Flowers have very specific meanings and new Canadians are very specific about what they want.” Continue reading

Meeting consumer needs for the perfect Canadian rose

By Lilian Schaer

Vineland – A new, homegrown rose is about to hit the Canadian market and it’s been carefully selected with the consumer in mind.

The Canadian Shield rose is the first variety to be released by Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) and, after in-depth research into consumer wants and needs, meets all of their key “must-haves.”  That’s according to Lana Culley, Director of Business Development at Vineland.

“Canadian Shield is cold-hardy, disease resistant and low maintenance,” she says of the variety originally bred by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada plant breeders. “The bush is large, covered in flowers, and a repeat bloomer from July through to October.”

The vibrant red blossom is a full flower with plenty of petals, and the foliage is dark green and glossy. And, the rose’s name: ‘Canadian Shield,’ is already trademarked. 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