Events by invitation-only became the norm in 2020 as the pandemic curbed in-person contact. The impacts of COVID-19 on research, new product launches and extension efforts will be felt for years to come.
John Molenhuis, business analysis and cost-of-production specialist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) worked with the grape, tender fruit and apple groups for years, updating baseline measurements every five years that compare the average of the group to the top 25.
Dejected workers gather to tear down the brittle leaves of a cucumber crop that perished after Nature Fresh Farms was shut down by public health authorities on June 30, 2020. In a recent short documentary, the story is told how 199 asymptomatic workers tested positive for COVID-19 but no one was ever hospitalized. The devastating effects of losing 7.8 million pounds of produce aren’t just economic but emotional as guest workers have testified.
Meetups are increasingly scarce. That’s why technology transfer is challenged in the age of COVID-19. Ontario vegetable crop specialist, Travis Cranmer and his colleagues are using new platforms to reach garlic growers Ian and Nathan Teetzel near Exeter, Ontario.
After 45 years of farming, it’s safe to say 2020 has been a year like no other for Ernie Wiens. Due to scant rainfall and high temperatures, grape tonnage volumes are expected to be down by 20 per cent. He’s poised to take a brix test of Chardonnay grapes, one of many varieties grown at the family’s 400 acres of vineyards near Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.
The repetitive task of crop scouting in greenhouses is being replaced by an automated system with artificial intelligence which can detect pests and disease in real time. This bleeding-edge technology is not for everyone. But it’s a new consideration for Jake Neufeld who manages a labour-intensive crop of high-wire cucumbers near Leamington, Ontario.
The Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers are eager to engage the local municipal councils of both Kingsville and Leamington on reasonable and enforceable lighting by-laws for the greenhouse sector in the Windsor-Essex region.
The American Blueberry Growers Alliance has been established to seek relief from rising imports. While Peru and Mexico are said to be the main irritants, Canada is also caught up in the International Trade Commission investigation.
The crossing between Reynosa, Mexico and Pharr, Texas is expanding to accommodate $35 billion in trade and more in the years to come. It’s the number one crossing in the U.S for produce. More than 10 per cent of the crossings are in high-value berries.
In a new twist, some of America’s largest blueberry growers are insisting that there is no injury to the industry when most imports arrive outside the domestic growing season of late April to early September. The coalition went public a week before the U.S. International Trade Commission looks at the case on January 12.
Another tool is available for managing spotted-wing drosophila in blueberries. ADAMA Agricultural Solutions has announced that the crop protection product can be used on both highbush and lowbush blueberries.
The broad-spectrum insecticide has been re-evaluated and approved by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency for continued use in Canada. The product is used in tree fruit, berries, carrots, celery and potatoes.
Robert Van Der Geest becomes general manager for Nature Fresh Farms Mexico leading operations of a 15-acre pepper greenhouse in the central region of the country. Another 15 acres are under construction.
The annual general meeting of CanAgPlus, the not-for-profit corporation that owns and operates the CanadaGAP Program, has elected two new and two returning directors. This is the oversight board for food safety.
Smart algorithms can optimize and steer climate, irrigation and energy in daily operations of greenhouses. A January 28 webinar delves into how artificial intelligence can reduce dependency on human expertise in controlled environments.
Leger’s 10th annual WOW index ranks Longo’s, the family-owned retailer as number one in customer experience, followed by Whole Foods, Farm Boy, Fortinos and Zehrs. The research ranks Ontario grocers on factors such as products, service and quality.
The British Columbia government spent $15 million in 2020 protecting temporary foreign workers in its quarantine program. Having workers self-isolate before going to farms was a successful strategy in preventing further transmission of COVID-19.
Fair trade? Michael Graydon, CEO, Food, Health and Consumer Products of Canada, presents a January 28 webinar on the effects of Canadian grocers shifting costs disproportionately to food manufacturers and farmers.