Category Archives: fruit

Local grape-drying system helps Canadian winemakers deal with cooler climate

By Lilian Schaer

Vineland – A made-in-Ontario grape-drying system is helping Niagara winemakers work with Canada’s shorter growing season and produce more premium wines in the process.

It was those winemakers who approached researchers at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) in 2011 for solutions to enhance their grapes. The answer lay with a centuries-old grape-drying tradition from Italy called Appassimento that the Vineland team adapted for use in Canada.

“We’ve developed a patented system here at Vineland for drying grapes and reducing their moisture content before making wine,” explains Darren Ward, Vineland’s manager of business planning and commercialization.

The drying process results in less water and more concentrated flavour and sugar in the grapes which, when translated into wine, means greater flavour and aroma complexity. Continue reading

Guelph cider start-up brings local ideas near and far

Revel in a good drink

Revel Cider’s Tariq Ahmed extracts a sample

By Matt McIntosh

Guelph – Revel Cider Company may only be three years old, but its brand already spans the province.

With between 70 and 80 bars and restaurants on the customer list, the company’s hard cider continues to exploit a lucrative market for locally made and sourced craft brews.

“We only sell to bars and restaurants at this point. They’re all over Ontario, from Thunder Bay to Ottawa and London,” said Tariq Ahmed, the company’s founder and sole employee.

The basis for Revel Cider first started fermenting during Ahmed’s time as a farm hand. An old cider press in one of the farm’s outbuildings peaked his interest, so he started brewing as a hobby. That hobby became Revel Cider in March 2013. 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

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