Senior policy thinkers at Agri-Food Economics Systems warn that future worker absenteeism due to COVID-19 illness could dent the agrifood supply chain. Think of truckers, logistics providers, anyone on the front lines of producing and moving food. 

Photo courtesy Michiel Buijsse

United Potato Growers of Canada has released its crop and market report, with the caveat that all numbers were tallied before the COVID-19 virus crisis. 

Photo by PEI Potato Board

The Produce Marketing Association, based in Newark, Delaware, convened members from 21 countries to discuss the industry’s response to COVID-19. The virtual town hall revealed that bananas, potatoes, carrots and onions are in the highest demand.

RELATED NEWS

United Fresh launches LIVE!

A fresh produce virtual platform will replace the in-person event slated for mid-June in San Diego. United Fresh LIVE! Will debut the week of June 15, 2020. 

U.S. Apple Association: guest workers urgently needed

The U.S. embassy has suspended processing of new H-2A worker applications in Mexico City and its offices across the country. The U.S. Apple Association, one of the founders of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition, is asking for a reversal of that position. 

Canada ratifies USMCA

The Canadian Senate gave Royal Assent to the new United States-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement on March 13, 2020. It was an historic event, overshadowed by the global pandemic of COVID-19. 

Coronavirus not spread through food

The European Food Safety Authority is closely monitoring the global outbreak of coronavirus disease. Ironically, its headquarters are based in Parma, in the north of Italy, part of the lockdown by the Italian government.

Strawberry symposium postponed a year

The International Strawberry Symposium has been postponed until 2021 due to the global coronavirus outbreak. It was slated for Rimini, Italy. 

RELATED NEWS

Pyganic insecticide registered for low-growing berries

Pyganic crop protection insecticide controls several insect pests of low-growing berries such as lowbush blueberries. 

Aim herbicide registered for weed control in mint

Weed control in herbs is now improved for mint in particular. 

Frontier Max herbicide registered on transplanted leeks

The Frontier Max herbicide label is expanded for control of specific weeds on transplanted leeks in Canada. 

XenTari WG biological insecticide label extended

This biological insecticide label has been extended for control of additional pests on fruiting vegetables such as eggplant and greenhouse strawberries. 

Ignite SN herbicide label expanded for strawberries in Canada

Choices for weed control in strawberries have expanded with new label for Ignite SN herbicide.

RELATED NEWS

Dr Chris Trobacher at NutriAg talks foliar and soil-applied nutrition in potatoes

Nutrients and micro-nutrients have a huge role to play in keeping potato plants healthy through the season. A strong plant is in a better position to ward off diseases and pests, and stand up to extreme  weather conditions.

Dr. Mary Ruth McDonald forecasts the future of IPM

The state of Integrated Pest Management keeps evolving with new equipment and techniques for identifying diseases and pests.

Kevin Howe offers best tips for on-farm markets

Karen Davidson, editor of The Grower, speaks with Kevin Howe, Howe Family Farm Market near Aylmer, Ontario.

Darci Vetter analyzes current state of global trade relations

Darci Vetter, former chief agricultural negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative, has had a front-row seat to trade relations around the world.

Seasonal agricultural workers such as Jamaican Willy Green are crucial to the 2020 growing season. The federal government is providing exemptions to the travel ban however logistics are still to be announced. 

RELATED NEWS

The future of IPM: something old, something new

Dr. Mary Ruth McDonald has mentored dozens of students as professor of plant agriculture, University of Guelph. Equally at home in the field, she’s working with Master’s student Alexandra Dacey, documenting carrot weevil found in carrot trials at the Muck Crops Research Station in Bradford, Ontario. 

How to tell and sell the origin story

Seedless watermelon is only one of the specialties carried at Howe Family Farm Market near Aylmer, Ontario. Kevin Howe says ground cherries and canary melons also pique the interest of consumers. The on-farm market has been so successful that the family has opened another location south of London Ontario. 

Showing face in the midst of trade wars

Bill George Jr. and his son Will have tasted the promise of Icewine exports to China. With geopolitical tensions in 2019, the risks of diversifying into markets abroad have been amplified. It’s too early to know if the recent U.S-China deal will help or hinder.    

Soil fitness – just do it!

Fourth-generation grower Kyle Horlings is questioning the way things have always been done. Since 2015, he’s taken about 10 acres of carrots and onions out of production every year for restorative cover plantings. His experiments near King, Ontario garnered him the Healthy Soil Award from the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority in November. 

Frequent flyer earns bonus points for good taste

Oleen Smethurst is known for her quest for flavour. As assistant vice-president, general merchandise manager for produce, Costco Canada, she jets all over the world from Berlin to Bogotá, meeting with growers and seed suppliers. While touring southern Ontario in late August 2019, she visited Martin’s Family Fruit Farm near Waterloo, Ontario.

Farm Credit Canada has received an enhancement to its capital base that will allow for an additional $5 billion in lending capacity. Federal ag minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced March 23 that the infusion will help with spring planting. 

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FEATURES

  • Kwik Lok unveils sustainable bag closure

    A new Eco-Lok closure offers the same safety, quality and rigidity as former plastic closures with lower carbon footprint.

  • Latest technology at FutureTEC Zone

    United Fresh 2019 offers a glimpse into the future with a TEC Zone featuring 24 top ag tech start-up companies. One of those is Montreal-based Motorleaf, which uses artificial intelligence to automate harvest yield estimates and disease scouting in tomato and pepper greenhouses. 

  • Tiny package, huge benefit for cherry growers

    Hazel Technologies Inc., based in Salinas, California, has developed a small, biodegradable and food-safe insert to extend the shelf life of a carton of fresh fruit. Now the post-harvest sachet is being launched for one of the most challenging fruits to keep fresh – cherries.

  • Photo courtesy of Eugenia Banks
    Potato common scab research unveils surprising results

    Scabby potatoes are unmarketable. However, molecular technology has determined that the most predominant species in Ontario might be one that could be controlled with cultural practices.

Recent News

Latest guidance to employers

On April 6, the federal government updated guidelines for seasonal and temporary agricultural workers. As rules are clarified, Bill George, chair, Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Growers’ Association, issued an update to all farm employers. 

Farmland prices soften amid uncertainty

The average value of Canadian farmland increased by 5.2 per cent in 2019, the smallest increase over the last decade, according to the latest Farmland Values Report by Farm Credit Canada. The statistics do not reflect any impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ontario sets up portal to attract ag workers

Anticipating a labour crunch, Ontario’s ag ministry has launched an online portal to attract workers to employers in the agri-food sector.

Ontario Food Terminal protocols under COVID-19

One of the critical assets in the food chain is the Ontario Food Terminal. Ken Knox, chair of the board, describes how the crisis team is responding. Look for details in a question-and-answer format with the editor of The Grower. 

Light in the tunnel for re-evaluation program

The current model clearly has some serious deficiencies and that’s led to some poor outcomes for all stakeholders. The future view is looking much brighter writes columnist Chris Duyvelshoff.

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