Category Archives: flowers

Finding the right light to grow better plants – on Earth and in space

By Lilian Schaer

Guelph – It’s an unremarkable building from the outside, tucked away on a side street on the University of Guelph campus. What’s inside, though, is most remarkable – and may well be lighting the way for future human life in space, as well as better life here on earth.

Not only are researchers in the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility working on how to best grow food away from Earth, they’re also experimenting with using light to improve the production of medical marijuana and cancer-fighting tobacco plants, helping nurseries reduce water and fertilizer use on their trees and shrubs, and finding low cost solutions to growing more compact bedding plants.

PhD candidate Dave Hawley is using basil and strawberry plants in experiments designed to find the best LED light combination for use in small, low atmosphere growth chambers that will not only simulate but actually improve upon real sunlight – and resulting in better flavour and ultimately helping feed people on long space journeys. Continue reading

Horticultural research centre marks 10-year anniversary

Industry and consumer focused innovation drives Vineland success

Vineland Research and Innovation Centre building

By Lilian Schaer

Vineland – It’s been 10 years since a new horticultural research facility in Niagara Region was launched as the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland).

Since then, Vineland has been turning heads across Canada and internationally with its needs-based innovations. The organization reflects the entire horticulture value chain from farmers to consumers, and they’re not afraid to take big steps to help the industry solve problems.

“We started by understanding what needed to be done and how we needed to work to make a difference, which is real results with real impact from acres in the field to shelf space in the store,” says Vineland’s CEO, Dr. Jim Brandle.

Asian eggplants at Vineland

Addressing the labour intensive nature of horticultural production was a need identified early on. Today, machines designed in Vineland’s robotics program and built in Ontario are coming into use in fruit and vegetable greenhouses, which Brandle says will go a long way in helping to keep growers competitive, as well as boost the local manufacturing and automation sector. 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

Sunny days: New tool helps greenhouses make light of winter

Per Aage Lysaa - webBy Lisa McLean for AgInnovation Ontario

Guelph – Each year, Canadian greenhouse growers face a challenge nearly as old as the sun itself: During the darker days of a Canadian winter, nothing grows.

Greenhouse production enters a mandatory hiatus, because there is not enough sunlight to sustain plant growth. Facilities are cleaned out. Plants are replanted.

And when the first harvest of the new season finally arrives, Canadian growers must battle for space on supermarket shelves, where produce from warmer climates has enjoyed its day in the sun.

Now, a systems integration company with facilities in Norway, China and Canada is offering a solution to Canadian greenhouse growers: LED lighting systems that can augment the sun’s rays, even when sunshine is scarce. Continue reading