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OMAFRA Achievements in Crop Technology 2007

Author: Betty Summerhayes - Product Development Specialist/OMAFRA
Creation Date: 06 July 2007
Last Reviewed: 06 July 2007

PDF Format - 1.5 MB


Partnering in a competitive, sustainable and environmentally responsible crop sector.


Table of Contents

  1. Director's Message
  2. Defining Branch Priorities
  3. Innovation Economy
  4. Plant Health and Regulatory Issues
  5. Competitive Production and Handling
  6. Food Safety and Quality
  7. Environment
  8. Putting you in touch with the information you need
  9. Staff Recognition
  10. Agriculture Development Branch -- Crop specialists deliver research, technology and information

Director's Message

I am pleased to present the 2007 "Achievements in Crop Technology." This report highlights the Branch accomplishments over the past year and illustrates how our accomplishments support our Ministry vision. Crop Technology Branch supports a diverse agricultural sector with staff working in the areas of field crops, fruits and vegetables, greenhouse production, agroforestry and specialty crops.

The achievements in this report are organized under the following branch strategic areas:

  • Innovation Economy
  • Plant Health and Regulatory Issues
  • Competitive Production and Handling
  • Food Safety and Quality
  • Environment.

As you may know, the Ministry undertook a review of its structure to examine and redefine our role in fostering a stronger agri-food sector and more prosperous rural communities. Our goal is to align OMAFRA's resources with priorities of our government to ensure that the ministry provides efficient service delivery to our clients.

As part of this review, the Crop Technology Branch, Livestock Technology Branch and
Business and Organizational Management Unit were combined into the Agriculture
Development Branch. You can be assured that this new branch will continue to provide you with the service and programs you expect.

We look forward to continuing to work with you and your organization in the coming year.

Sincerely,

Bill Ingratta, Director
Crop Technology Branch
519-826-3151
bill.ingratta@ontario.ca

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Defining Branch Priorities

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) Vision

A strong agri-food sector that is integral to Ontario's economy and contributes innovative solutions to protect the environment, to provide safe and nutritious food, to promote the bio-economy and to support the health and well-being of Ontarians.

Crop Technology Branch Vision

Partnering in a competitive, sustainable and environmentally responsible crop sector.

Priorities:

  • Innovation Economy …
    Assist crop sectors to respond to new and evolving opportunities in the marketplace such as value chains, functional foods, nutraceuticals, bioenergy, biohealth and bioremediation.
  • Plant Health and Regulatory Issues …
    Assess crop protection issues, support minor use initiatives and develop programs in integrated pest management, plant health and reduced risk strategies. Assist commodity sectors in dealing with regulatory related impacts.
  • Competitive Production and Handling …
    Assess new and/or evolving crop production and management technologies to improve competitiveness in the domestic and global marketplace.
  • Food Safety and Quality …
    Promote sustainable production and postharvest systems and practices that will ensure safe, high-quality agricultural products for the marketplace.
  • Environment …
    Assess and promote environmentally responsible use of new technologies, nutrients, pesticides and water for crop production and assess impacts and opportunities of climate change.

Crop Technology Branch consists of highly trained, technical professionals who are committed to maintaining their leading-edge knowledge of both the research and the field production aspects of their disciplines. By partnering with growers, grower organizations, agri-business and researchers, staff work to improve the economic competitiveness and innovative capacity of the crop production sector of Ontario. This is achieved through validation, knowledge translation and delivery of technical information through print publications, conferences, seminars, workshops and courses, the internet, applied research and demonstration trials, and commodity association and agri-business meetings. Crop Technology Branch staff also use their knowledge and experience behind the scenes to establish research priorities, encourage new markets and technology developments, provide technical input to various policy directives and facilitate communication between all sectors of the industry.

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Innovation Economy


Virtual Greenhouse Helps Producers Capture Energy Opportunities

Energy costs are the largest expense of operating a greenhouse. With energy costs continuing to rise,
finding ways to reduce these costs and improve overall greenhouse design efficiency is a key priority for the industry. Our Greenhouse Vegetable Specialist is working with Integrated Manufacturing Technologies Institute, National Research Council, Industrial Research Assistance Program, Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers and the University of Windsor to establish a virtual greenhouse that will be used to evaluate energy balance in the greenhouse, labour efficiency and greenhouse design. It is anticipated that the virtual greenhouse will allow growers to input information regarding their greenhouse (planned changes) and look at "what if scenarios." The first phase of the project is looking at energy conservation and will allow the user to determine which energy conservation techniques would be beneficial for their operation. In the second phase, the system will allow a greenhouse manufacturer to try "what if scenarios," such as looking at structural modifications and their impact on energy consumption, plant spacing and labour movement.

Grow Pipes Enhancing Fruit Maturity and Quality

Research conducted by our Greenhouse Vegetable Specialist, at the Greenhouse and Processing Crops Research Centre at Harrow with Agriculture and Agri-food Canada (AAFC) and Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG) as well as at a commercial greenhouse facility, has shown the benefits of using a grow pipe in improved micro-climate management, fruit quality and disease management. A grow pipe is a small diameter hot water pipe suspended 30 to 50 cm above the growing media within the crop growing row. This is used as the primary heat source at certain times of the year. The temperature of the water is adjusted to alter the microclimate allowing the greenhouse grower to make adjustments that will create a microclimate that enhances fruit maturity and quality. There are currently 34 hectares of greenhouses using this technique in Ontario.

DNA Barcode Scanning of Insects

Recent advances in the use of molecular technology for identification of organisms to species have been
developed at the University of Guelph, which is home to a project known as the Barcode of Life. Working with researchers at the University of Guelph, Crop Technology Branch staff worked on a major project aimed at developing a database of Ontario agricultural pests as a means of facilitating rapid identification. This project included financial commitments from a number of agricultural crop sectors. One major commitment from the greenhouse industry, took this project a step further by investigating the feasibility of developing a prototype for a portable DNA sequencer that would allow in field identification. The long-term potential of such technology would include its use at the American border, speeding up entry of Ontario grown product into the United States, particularly in situations where insects were found.

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Plant Health and Regulatory Issues

Managing Invasive Alien Species Issues

With increased trade of plants and plant products across borders comes the increased risk of spreading new invasive plants and plant pests. One of the challenges for agriculture is balancing trade issues while recognizing and managing pathways for introduction or spread of invasive alien species (IAS).

Currently, many Crop Technology specialists are involved with IAS issues. Our staff assess crop protection issues, support minor use initiatives including emergency use registrations for IAS and quarantine pests, and assist commodity sectors in dealing with regulatory related impacts. In response to these threats, Crop Technology specialists participate in international-federal-provincial task forces, working directly with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, other governments and ministries, researchers and affected stakeholders to develop action plans and solutions.

In 2006-07, OMAFRA specialists contributed to the prevention, early detection or management of the following invasive pests: downy mildew on cucurbits, apple clearwing moth, soybean rust, emerald ash borer, sudden oak death, soybean cyst nematode, dog strangling vine, giant hogweed, plum pox virus, bois nor, leek moth, swede midge, soybean aphid and cabbage seedpod weevil.

Getting the Word Out About the Asian Long-horned Beetle

Asian Long-horned Beetle (ALHB) was first detected in New York as a serious invasive insect pest of primarily hard maples and other valued forest broadleaf species. It was necessary to get information out to woodlot owners about the potential impact on the maple syrup industry as a food crop and the significance of this pest to forestry wood products. A series of workshops were held to educate maple producers and woodlot owners on the potential threat to our industries by ALHB. Emphasis was placed on learning how to identify the signs and symptoms of ALHB in affected hardwoods and to report any sightings to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency or specialists as soon as possible in order to contain any infestations quickly. Crop Technology's Agroforesty Specialist worked with other government agencies to organize and deliver a series of six workshops held across the province at local meetings of the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association, forest pest research meetings and at other farm woodlot meetings.

Pepper and Tomato Anthracnose Survey Uncovers an Unexpected Species

In 2006, several samples of anthracnose-infected pepper and tomato fruit were collected in southwestern Ontario. In the past, pepper anthracnose (Colletotrichum spp.) was quite rare in Ontario, but the incidence has increased dramatically in the last couple of years. Research from Ohio, where similar observations were noted, indicated that there had been a shift in Colletotrichum populations towards a species that was more virulent on pepper and tomato.

Initial diagnosis ruled out the species thought to be the primary cause of tomato anthracnose in Ontario. Crop Technology provided funding to conduct genetic testing on the samples with a surprising result. All the anthracnose samples were of one species, but this was neither the typical Ontario species, nor the species identified in Ohio.

Now that Crop Technology Branch staff have uncovered this shift in species, work has begun to determine if management practices need to be adjusted. In 2007 a more extensive survey will be conducted to assess control methods.

Soybean Rust (Soybean PIPE - Pest Information Platform for Extension)

The threat of soybean rust has led to unparalleled international co-operation and partnerships. The comprehensive soybean rust "sentinel plot" monitoring program put in place by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) with OMAFRA and the Ontario Soybean Growers (OSG) is one such
example. Ontario's involvement in this innovative network resulted in a series of soybean sentinel plots (38 in 2006 and 44 in 2005) being established across the soybean production area of southern Ontario. The sentinel plot program involves intensive scouting for soybean rust symptoms and field evaluations by the OMAFRA in conjunction with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and industry partners. The establish-ment of these plots allowed OMAFRA also to survey for other soybean pests such as SCN, aphids and other diseases.

Ontario's involvement through OSG funding in this North American early warning system provides Ontario and Canadian soybean producers and industry with access to soybean rust management information and research that otherwise would be cost prohibited.

Investigating the Role of Soil Insects as Pests of Root Crops in Ontario

Soil insects have long been a significant problem for producers of root vegetables in Ontario. In recent years, carrots and sweet potatoes have experienced significant economic losses due to damage from these pests. Historically, wireworms and grubs were thought to be the main soil insects in root crops. However recent investigations by Crop Technology Branch staff revealed high numbers of millipedes in fields where growers had attributed damage to wireworms. Millipedes are important in maintaining soil health, and have not traditionally been considered pests. There is little information available on what impact, if any, they have on yield of root vegetables in Ontario.

In response to these observations, Crop Technology Branch staff, together with researchers from the University of Guelph, are studying the biology of soil pests in Ontario carrots and sweet potatoes in 2007. The goal is to identify the main species of wireworms, millipedes and other arthropods attacking these crops and to determine what factors influence their populations and impact on crop yield. The project will also evaluate various sampling techniques, in the hopes of identifying an effective method that growers can use to monitor their crops for these pests. This information will be critical to the registration of pest control products and the development of integrated pest management strategies aimed at reducing the impact of these pests on root crops in the province.

Leek Moth, an Invasive Alien Species, Attacking Alliums

The leek moth is an invasive alien species of European origin, which damages Allium spp. including onions, leeks, garlic and chives. It was first identified in the Ottawa area in 1993 and recognized as a new introduction by the scientific community in 1997. Since its detection, leek moth has resulted in significant damage to both conventional and organic allium producers in eastern Ontario and southwestern Quebec.

Over the past three years, Crop Technology Branch staff and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada staff worked together to develop a monitoring protocol and management solutions for both conventional and organic allium producers. This work has provided a better understanding of leek moth population dynamics and how to better time pest control applications through the use of a degree day model. Data packages supporting pest control registrations have been prepared and submitted. In 2007, work is on-going to learn the distribution of leek moth in southwestern Ontario.

One of the initial goals of this project was to increase leek moth awareness to allium growers. To this end, field research has been presented at meetings across the province. A poster reporting on the 2006 field season won first place at the annual Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Conference. In addition, the leek moth infosheet has been updated with new information and photos. Through technology transfer, allium growers across Ontario are learning what, where and how to control leek moth.

Swede Midge Biology and Management

The swede midge, an economic pest of cole crops, is native to Europe and Asia and was not known to occur anywhere in North America prior to its identification in Ontario in 2000. Since then, swede midge has been identified as a quarantine pest and its distribution has been recorded in Ontario and Quebec.

Crop Technology Branch staff and researchers from the University of Guelph have worked together to evaluate trapping methods, reduced risk pesticides, and better understand the relationship between trap captures and field damage. Based on this research, Ontario cole crop growers are now equipped with best management practices in the battle against the swede midge. Canadian distributors commercially provide pheromone traps as well as offer site-specific decision-making information. Data generated from field and greenhouse trials are being used to support both emergency use and User Requested Minor Use Label Expansion (URMULE) registrations. Monitoring work in different counties has provided weekly snap shots of flight activity to growers across southwestern Ontario.

In addition to research, Crop Technology Branch staff continue to play a leading role in the International Swede Midge Task Force.

This "Lady" Can Do a Lot of Damage

Multicoloured Asian Lady Beetles, Harmonia axyridis, are normally beneficial insects, but become pests when they are attracted to ripening grapes. If Multicoloured Asian Lady Beetles (MALB) are harvested along with the grapes, they impart an unpleasant taste and aroma to the resulting wine. The attraction of MALB to ripening grapes is not unique to Ontario, but university researchers, private industry, and government agencies in Ontario have taken a lead role in finding solutions to this problem. Since the first major appearances of MALB in grapes in 2001, Crop Technology Branch staff have provided leadership to the grape and wine industry through convening the Multicoloured Asian Lady Beetle Working Group (formerly called the MALB Task Force). Since its inception, the MALB Working Group has been chaired by Crop Technology Branch staff, and includes members from grape and wine industry groups, individual wineries, universities, other government agencies, and private industry service groups. The continuing roles of the Working Group include keeping members and all grape growers and wineries informed of MALB problems, research and solutions, as well as determining current and future research needs and securing funds for research and services related to MALB. Other important activities where Crop Technology Branch staff have assisted with MALB issues include securing pesticide registrations for late season use and exploring alternative pest management options. As an established invasive insect, MALB is now a permanent part of the ecology of Ontario. Despite that, the efforts of the grape and wine industry, assisted by the MALB Working Group, have insured that excellent vintages continue to be produced in Ontario.

Training for CFIA Inspectors Helps Ensure Accurate Pest Identification

Nurseries are considered potential pathways for the introduction of new forestry pests. While pests and diseases do not recognize borders, Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) inspectors play a vital role in keeping pests and diseases out of Ontario through their inspections at border crossings. Ensuring that CFIA inspectors have the knowledge and tools to do their job properly is key to maintaining a healthy nursery industry.

This past year, Crop Technology Branch staff in collaboration with Landscape Ontario and the University of Guelph developed and delivered an applied four-day training program for CFIA inspectors. The course provided CFIA staff with information and tools to correctly identify common pests, diseases and abiotic problems (problems caused by something other than a disease or pest) associated with nursery crops. Modules covered included plant and pest identification, an introduction to insects and diseases of woody plants, and a review of regulated and economic pests as well as beneficial species. Efforts were made to help inspectors understand the production systems used within the industry. New information learned was put into practice through guided tours and an investigation of the University of Guelph's insect collection. Participant feedback was very positive and encouraged the delivery of a similar course in 2007.

Minor Use and Emergency Registrations

For all crops grown in Ontario, minor use crop-pest priorities are developed annually and submitted to the national minor use priority list. Each year numerous projects are conducted at the national level addressing Ontario priorities. Additional provincial minor use priorities are addressed by pulling together the necessary data, research trials, and registrant support to steer these through the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) process.

Crop Technology Branch staff play a pivotal role in prioritizing minor use needs and seeking sustainable ways to address the minor use technology gap over the long term. Staff seek risk reduction strategies and act as a liaison with our American, European and Australian minor use partners.

Crop Technology Branch staff also play a key role when an emergency pest outbreak occurs, as these situations must be addressed rapidly to protect Ontario's vital agricultural interests. Crop Technology Branch has responded quickly in validating the emergency use situation and seeking sustainable ways to address the problem over the long term.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

  • In 2006, approximately 63 minor use submissions were granted full registration status by PMRA. Ontario was the sponsor or key proponent of 50 per cent of these submissions. There are approximately 350 active minor use submissions in the system presently. The federal minor use program, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Pest Management Centre, accounts for about 245 of these projects or 70 per cent of the national total. The remaining 105 projects have been sponsored and submitted by the provinces of which Ontario accounts for about 66 per cent.
  • In 2006, 21 emergency use submissions were brought forward, prepared, reviewed and submitted by Crop Technology Branch in collaboration with grower organizations. Eighteen of these emergency use submissions were approved by PMRA saving over $475 million in potential crop losses in Ontario. Two of the emergency use submissions were withdrawn due to full registration being granted and one was withdrawn by the sponsors.

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Competitive Production and Handling

Soil Fertility Handbook (Publication 611)

A team of Crop Technology Branch staff, with input from agribusiness and academia, have extensively revised and updated the Soil Fertility Handbook. This handy reference brings together into one place the fundamentals of how nutrients behave in the soil and in crops. It is intended for use by farmers and agronomists, but it has also been popular as a textbook in college and university soil management courses. More than 90 tables and figures (25 of them brand new) help to make the concepts understandable.

This book explains the science of soil testing and fertilizer recommendations, and clearly explains the benefits of using the OMAFRA recommended systems. It provides the tools for farmers to tailor their own fertilizer program, right up to designing their own custom fertilizer blends. Helping growers get a better understanding of how nutrients behave should result in more effective fertilizer use, leading to increased profits and reduced environmental impact.

Increasing Ontario's Share of the Market for Golden Apples

The imported Golden Delicious has always reigned supreme on retail shelves in Ontario for consumers with a preference for yellow skinned apples. The mix of yellow skinned varieties has changed significantly with the likes of Gingergold, Earligold, Golden Supreme, and Aurora as well as improved strains of Golden Delicious grown using special techniques. Aurora is considered one of the best eating apples in the world. Crop Technology Branch staff were able to grow Aurora cultivars in a test plot in Lambton County during the 2006 growing season. Results have stimulated a high level of interest in both Ontario and B.C., where Aurora has its origins. The experiment was done in a year that was not considered to be a good year for Golden Delicious types. These cultivar trials and applied research have provided information to growers to improve the look and finish of Ontario grown Goldens. The use of particle films and growth regulators offers promise that these yellow apples will be able to fill the niche demand that the imported Golden Delicious currently holds, increasing marketing opportunities for Ontario growers.

Innovative Greenhouse Research Improves Competitiveness of the Sector

High wire cucumber production is a training method that differs from the traditional umbrella system. It allows the plant to be grown so that the main stem is not terminated resulting in very tall plants that need to be lowered (layered) like tomatoes. This increases production, improves fruit quality and allows easier harvesting of the mature fruit. Crop Technology Branch staff have developed a protocol, based on several years of research to address various issues with this system resulting in 25 to 35 per cent increase in production. This system coupled with supplemental lighting has resulted in doubling the production on a per m2 basis. Several growers are now adopting this system on a trial basis.

Additional research conducted by Crop Technology Branch staff has shown that eggplants can be grown successfully in Ontario greenhouses. Studies on plant density, stem density, nutrition indicate that plants grown at 2.4 plants per m2 and two stems per plant is the optimal density for our conditions. In 2001, no eggplants were grown in Ontario greenhouses. In 2007, approximately five hectares of eggplants are grown.

Drip Irrigation Water Movement in Raised Beds

Many growers have adopted drip irrigation technology to improve water use efficiency and to apply nutrients with the irrigation water. However, field observation suggests that a greater awareness of how water moves on a variety of soil types is needed. Growers have questions about scheduling irrigation and fertigation treatments. Under-application of water can cause plant stress and lead to the buildup of salts. Over-application of water can cause root diseases. The potential for fertilizer leaching is also a concern.

Crop Technology Branch staff and OMAFRA's Irrigation Engineer used a technique successfully developed by researchers at the Dover Experimental Farm in Dover, Florida. The "dye test" involves the injection of a non-toxic dye into the irrigation system to study the movement of water in soil. The objective was to evaluate this technique for its potential as an on-farm management tool that would demonstrate to growers how water moves down and across raised beds and how management practices affect scheduling.

In 2006 the blue dye test was conducted at five sites, including Ridgetown College for Diagnostic Days. Presentations were made on the results of these initial demonstrations at the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Conference, and the Great Lakes Fruit Extension Workers Conference. More demonstrations are planned for 2007.

Ontario Corn Study Helps Direct Future Hybrid Development

One advantage the Ontario seed corn industry possesses is quality. Maintaining our productivity and quality under variable growing conditions in the future is critical to the ongoing viability of the Ontario industry. In 2006, a seed corn disease and insect survey was conducted by Crop Technology Branch staff in the production areas on southwestern Ontario. Results support the observations that certain diseases such as Gray Leaf Spot, Northern Leaf Blight and Anthracnose leaf blight (three economically and potentially destructive seed and commercial corn diseases) are increasing.

The information obtained on disease and insect impacts in Ontario seed corn and commercial corn fields will assist both private and public breeders in hybrid development which will help meet this challenge and potentially reduce loses to diseases and other pests. An enhanced understanding of the barriers to yield and the compensatory management techniques for Ontario seed corn production is the key to a sustainable and dependable Ontario seed corn and commercial corn production industry.

Profit Through Knowledge

The fifth annual Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention, "Profit Through Knowledge", attracted more than 1,400 horticultural producers, marketers and industry representatives. The two-day conference combined educational sessions with a major trade show. More than 120 exhibitors representing all the input, service and information providers to the horticultural industry participated. Crop Technology Branch staff played a major role in the success of this conference as session chairs and through the development of the educational program. Staff used their broad network of contacts to bring international speakers and local experts to the conference to present production information, innovative practices, business management and marketing strategies.

Topics presented took the audience from field to marketplace. Sessions focused on product performance, disease management, food safety in the harvesting and handling of leafy greens, the latest research on controlling corn earworm, new post-harvest technologies and management strategies for downy mildew in cucumbers. Global marketing trends presented addressed issues such as linking food and health, buying locally and opportunities within ethnic markets. Panel discussions involved the audience in creative and innovative marketing to help them profit through knowledge.

The Effect, Timing and Rate of Chemical Thinners on the Incidence and Severity of Black Rot of Apple Fruit

Managing fruit load on apple trees is important to maximize fruit size and quality. Chemical thinners have been developed and registered to reduce crop load since hand thinning is very labour intensive and costly. Application of chemical thinners can result in mummified fruit. Mummified secondary fruit are rapidly colonized by the Black rot fungus, Botryosphaeria obtusa. This provides an important source of inoculum that infects primary fruit later in the season.

To address this issue, Crop Technology Branch staff worked with University of Guelph researchers to investigate methods of using chemical thinner technology to reduce Black rot in apples while optimizing fruit crop load and fruit quality. Results of the research showed that the incidence of Black rot was lower on fruit from trees that received chemical thinners at petal fall than on trees treated when fruit were 11 to 15 mm. Black rot severity on fruit was also significantly lower on fruit from trees when chemical thinners were applied at petal fall than from trees treated when fruit were either 6 to 22 mm or 11 to 15 mm. Preliminary results indicate that trees treated at petal fall or when fruit were 6 to 11 mm produced adequate numbers of fruit per tree with good fruit weight and a low incidence and severity of Black rot at harvest. These results help growers reduce crop load, maximize fruit size and quality.

International Potato Common Scab Conference

Potato growers in Ontario are experiencing more difficulties with common scab, and practical control methods for this disease are sorely needed. In view of the widespread common scab problem, Crop Technology's Potato Specialist organized the First International Potato Common Scab Conference held in North America. The conference was held in Guelph on March 5-6, 2007. The conference brought together 13 scientists from around the world to discuss the practical implications of their research.

This conference addressed many of the challenges and economic implications of the issue. It was attended by approximately 160 people, including researchers, extension personnel and a large number of potato farmers, who comprised approximately 70 per cent of the attendees. This was truly a North American conference with participants from Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Alberta, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. The conference provided an excellent opportunity to share experiences with scab management from a worldwide perspective.

A consistent message from all speakers and growers is that common scab on potatoes continues to increase. The increase in scab symptoms on potato tubers is having an economic impact on growers, packers and processors. Compared to its status 10 to 15 years ago, the disease has moved from a relatively lower importance in potatoes to a major disease issue. While surface scab may render the potatoes non-marketable for seed and table (ware) markets, they may still be used for processing into french fries and chips (crisps). Pitted scab is increasing and makes potatoes unsuitable for use in processing as removal of the potato skin still leaves deep pits in the flesh that reduces the quality of chips and fries. A major challenge now exists to develop effective control and management practices.

An extensive assessment of more than 100 potato varieties/seedlings had been evaluated each year (2005-6) by Crop Technology Branch staff in a naturally infested scab research plot to assess susceptibility/resistance to common scab under conditions at the test site in Alliston, Ontario. Tuber samples were put on display at the conference. Under the conditions tested, some varieties have displayed excellent field resistance to scab and others consistently displayed susceptibility to scab with evidence of surface and pitted symptoms. A summary of the varietal susceptibility to scab evaluations, from the Ontario trials was compiled by Crop Technology Branch staff and was included in the registration package for all attendees. Of the 187 varieties/seedlings tested, the ratings were: 11 very tolerant, 29 good tolerance, 14 some tolerance, 41 susceptible, 44 very susceptible and 48 extremely susceptible. Some of the most heavily used table and processing varieties were in the latter two categories.

Researchers, working on scab, found the conference to be beneficial in sharing their results and discussing their ongoing programs with other scientists. Potato growers had the opportunity to interact with researchers from around the world and exchange ideas on potential scab control methods. A proposal was made to develop an international newsletter on new developments/research on common potato scab.

Corn Ear Moulds and Mycotoxin Survey

A wet fall of 2006 created harvesting difficulties and corn quality concerns. As field corn harvest began, Crop Technology Branch staff, in partnership with the University of Guelph, began sampling corn fields across the province. This survey identified the extent and severity of ear moulds and mycotoxins within the corn crop. Ears and/or harvested grain were assessed for visual mould growth and for deoxynivalenol (DON, vomitoxin) and Zerealenone levels. More than 90 fields were sampled from across southern Ontario. This survey, combined with other Crop Technology extension efforts such as Cropline, articles in newsletters and publications, delivered critical information to the Ontario corn industry.

Regional differences in the severity of infection were identified. Chatham-Kent, Middlesex, and Elgin Counties, for example, had much higher DON levels than the rest of the province, while areas to the east of Guelph were virtually free of corn that tested over two ppm DON. Recommendations for harvesting, drying and storage techniques to mitigate the problem associated with high mycotoxin corn were provided. The project also conducted research relating to mitigation techniques that will improve future recommendations.

Crop Technology and Livestock Technology staff identified feeding concerns for livestock producers, suggested herd health symptoms to watch for, and gave recommendations for sampling and testing for mycotoxins in grain and feed. Human health concerns and safety precautions, particularly for those with prolonged exposure (such as those working in the grain-handling sector), were recommended.

Interactive Workshops Assist Growers in Managing Obliquebanded Leafroller

Obliquebanded Leafroller (OBLR) is a major pest of apples throughout Canada and is considered one of the priorities under the Pest Management Centre risk reduction strategy. Resistance to organophosphate (OP) insecticides and cross resistance to insect growth regulators (IGR) has made managing this pest a challenge. Although new reduced-risk products are available for effective management of this pest, their modes of action and application timings may differ from those of older chemistries. To facilitate the transition, Crop Technology Branch staff organized a series of grower meetings on OBLR across the province in the winter of 2007. The interactive workshops highlighted management issues including biology, monitoring, thresholds, spray coverage, resistance to insecticides, management options (using reduced-risk pesticides), and other practices (thinning, pruning, and sprayer calibration) that contribute to successfully controlling this pest. These workshops were requested by the Ontario apple growers who also sponsored the workshops. Funding in support of these workshops was obtained through the Pesticide Risk Reduction Program. A total of 145 growers received certificates of completion following their attendance and participation.

Monitoring Program for Pests in Herbs and Lavender

One major challenge to the production of herbs and lavender in Ontario is a lack of knowledge about the major insects and diseases attacking these crops. This problem is expected to increase as acreage increases. Providing growers with information that will help them in the accurate identification of pest problems is a key objective of an ongoing survey being conducted by Crop Technology Branch staff at herb farms in southwestern Ontario.

Since 2005, weekly visits were made to commercial herb fields to take samples of insects and diseases from many of the major field grown herbs produced in the province. Major insect pests observed were several leafhopper species, including aster yellow and potato leafhoppers, as well as aphids, leaf miners and tarnished plant bug. Diseases included downy mildew and Alternaria leaf blight. High nematode populations in thyme led to a larger study to determine the effectiveness of nematode suppressive cover crops. More detailed scouting surveys are planned for 2007. One major finding was that pest problems in herb crops are often misdiagnosed or attributed to production concerns. For example, dieback in thyme due to nematode infestation had initially been attributed to the plants being allowed to flower too long.

A key success of this project has been the development of baseline information on major herb pests and when they appear. Results to date have been presented at a number of grower meetings, and it is hoped that, as more data is collected, the information can be included in OMAFRA agriphones and publications. This will aid growers in the accurate diagnosis of problems and timely application of pest management solutions. This is particularly important for herb growers as most producers prefer not to apply chemical control products to these crops, instead relying on alternative pest management solutions, which generally require a more detailed knowledge of the pests and their biology.

Lavender Study Group Promotes Industry Opportunities

Promoting interest and improvement in the production of minor crops, such as lavender, sometimes requires creative approaches and vision. The success of the lavender study group, established by Crop Technology's Ginseng and Medicinal Herbs Specialist, is an excellent example of one such approach. The group, now in its second year, is led by a local lavender grower. The group meets regularly to hear speakers, view demonstrations and share knowledge. Topics covered include pest and weed control, management of cuttings, distillation of lavender flowers, organic protocols, and lavender based agritourism opportunities targeting artists and school tours.

The establishment of the study group has resulted in the building and sharing of information about varieties and growing techniques. The long-term goal of the study group is to have a lavender agritourism industry in Ontario that compliments wine tours and day-trip opportunities. A number of the farms have long-term plans to do value-added processing of oil, hydrosols, bundles of flowers, packets of buds and scented products.

8th Year of Soil Management Workshop Proves Popular

The need to educate agri-business and producers on the many aspects of soil quality has not changed since 2000, when the Soil Management Workshops began. Promoting new advances in technology and knowledge ensures that the workshop content is always relevant and practical. The consistently high attendance and excellent evaluations prove that agribusiness and producers find these workshops valuable. This year almost 60 participants were exposed to practical methods for assessing soil quality. The practical management solutions and new tools will assist consultants in providing better advice to their clients. Growers who manage their soil better increase their competitive edge.

Conference Celebrates 20 Years of Promoting Woodlot Improvement

A well-managed woodlot can provide economic returns to a landowner. Practical options for managing pine resources was the focus of the 20th annual Kemptville Winter Woodlot Conference. Crop Technology's Agroforestry Specialist took a lead role in planning this one-day workshop that attracted almost 250 participants. The workshop is jointly sponsored by the Eastern Ontario Model Forest, OMAFRA, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the South Nation and Raisin Region Conservation Authorities. Participants learned about forest pests, nuisance wildlife control and specific management options for red and white pine plantations.

Screening of Reduced Risk Products for Management of Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is one of the most chronic and serious diseases that afflicts greenhouse vegetables. The problem is compounded by a lack of products or tools that growers can access for management of this disease. Powdery mildew has been identified by the greenhouse vegetable industry as a top priority. Crop Technology Branch's Greenhouse Vegetable IPM Specialist worked with staff of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers to develop a proposal for funding from the Pest Management Reduced Risk Program (PMRRP). The purpose of this project was to find effective reduced and low-risk products that would be registered for management of powdery mildew in greenhouse vegetables. Research has started at the Greenhouse and Processing Crops Research Centre in Harrow to provide data to assist in the registration of low-toxicity products. Having such products assists growers in reducing losses attributed to powdery mildew and in practicing fungicide resistance management by having sufficient products for rotation.

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Food Safety and Quality

Developing a HACCP-based Food Safety Model for Herbs, Spices and Natural Health Products

The number one issue in medicinal plants is fraud, either through misidentification of plants grown/collected or deliberate substitution. Consuming the wrong medicinal plant can be deadly. Consumers need to know that they are getting the health benefit they paid for or expected when they purchase a product. Other industry issues that need to be addressed are bacterial contamination and heavy metals.

In 2002, our Ginseng and Medicinal Herbs Specialist participated in the newly formed National Herb, Spice and Natural Health Product Coalition as a technical resource. This national team representing ten provinces and one territory took on the job of developing a farm food safety model for herbs, spices and natural health products in Canada. This model was based on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP). A plant identification module was developed. This module is recommended by the World Health Organization for use in Third World countries. It is a full-traceability model and is being used as part of access benefit sharing protocols being developed at the United Nations. A Good Agricultural Practices manual for Canadian producers of herbs and spices was also developed. This was done according to protocols establish by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

In 2006, a pilot training exercise with Ontario ginseng growers was conducted. Ten growers participated and supplied feedback which was used to improve the manual. A group of pharmaceutical manufacturers from China has asked that all ginseng growers use this program and that producers mesh our Good Agricultural Practices Program with theirs to develop a global standard for ginseng. This will be developed this summer and fall. Once the technical review is completed and appropriate changes are made, growers will have a CFIA recognized model in Canada for on farm food safety for herbs, spices and natural health products.

Evaluation of SmartFresh (1-MCP) Treatment for Ontario Greenhouse Tomatoes

SmartFresh (1-MCP) has the ability to delay fruit ripening and thus increase product shelf life. This technology has been utilized by the apple industry during the past few years, resulting in more marketing opportunities and increased competitiveness.

Crop Technology's Fresh Market Quality Program Lead, in collaboration with the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers, AgroFresh Inc., Agricultural Adaptation Council, and the University of Guelph, developed a multi-year project to evaluate the potential of SmartFresh to improve quality and extend shelf life of Ontario greenhouse tomatoes.

SmartFresh was shown to slow ripening, maintain vine health, and delay color change in several types of greenhouse tomatoes. Application methods and incorporation into commercial postharvest practices are currently being investigated.

Due in part to the success of this project, SmartFresh was recently registered in Canada for use on tomatoes. As a result, Ontario greenhouse vegetable growers will have the ability to extend marketing windows and avenues for their tomatoes.


Environment

Study on Environmental Effects of Storing and Spreading Waste Sugarbeets on Crop Land

In the winter of 2004, weather and other factors resulted in the rotting of large quantities of sugarbeets in storage piles in Ontario and Michigan. In January 2005, the sugar company requested that their grower/shareholders take loads of sugarbeets for field spreading.

When this situation arose, Crop Technology Branch staff contacted sugarbeet experts in other growing areas to gather information on waste sugarbeet storage and handling. Initial recommendations were developed based on the limited information available. To address this lack of information, a two-year project was proposed by Crop Technology Branch staff and funded by the Ontario Sugarbeet Growers' Association (OSGA), through the CORD program.

The project explored the potential for composting waste sugarbeets, conducted a greenhouse simulation of waste beet spreading, monitored sugarbeet stockpiles, and in 2005-06 sampled and monitored fields where waste beets were spread.

Possible agronomic and environmental considerations relating to waste sugarbeets was reported in an infosheet distributed to growers and posted on our website. Meetings were held with growers and company representatives to discuss management practices for dealing with the waste sugarbeets.

Through this initiative, Crop Technology Branch staff were able to answer questions growers had about waste sugarbeets and help them deal with problems that arose. The information developed will be useful in developing recommendations and management practices for dealing with large quantities of waste sugarbeets or other crop waste if similar situations arise in the future.

Ensuring Accurate Test Results Through Agronomic Accreditation Program

Soil testing services to farmers in Ontario are provided by private laboratories. Both farmers and government need to know that the analytical results are accurate, since soil test results are the basis for fertilizer recommendations and nutrient management. The OMAFRA Agronomic Accreditation Program, administered by Crop Technology Branch staff, provides the assurance that results from accredited labs meet standards.

To produce a program that is both economical for the laboratories and effective, OMAFRA has teamed with the North American Proficiency Testing Program (NAPT), which operates under the Soil Science Society of America, as the source of exchanges samples. Accredited labs must be enrolled, at their own cost, in NAPT, and submit their sample results (five soils and three plant tissues each quarter) to both NAPT and OMAFRA. These results are compared to the average of the Ontario labs, as well as to the larger population of all the labs enrolled in NAPT. This allows any problems in the labs to be quickly identified and corrected.

Currently there are five accredited labs in Ontario, plus one in Ohio that has Ontario clientele. These labs provide accurate results to Ontario farmers, enhancing the profitability and competitiveness of Ontario crop production. This also creates a sound basis for nutrient management planning, minimizing the risk for adverse environmental impact from nutrient application.

Project Helps Producers Address Environmental Issues

Convincing growers that changing cultivation practices can impact climate change requires solid data. Over the past four years, Crop Technology Branch staff have partnered with University of Guelph and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada researchers, industry and a number of local Soil and Crop Improvement Associations on the Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Program. Our staff implemented a number of demonstrations of best management practices (BMPs) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Improved nitrogen use efficiency of field and horticulture crops was demonstrated through nitrogen rate work and with cover crops. A researcher worked with the data collected by many of the projects to determine the reduction in nitrous oxide emissions from the various BMPs. A comparison of different tillage methods and analysis of soil from long term tillage and rotation plots demonstrated the levels of carbon sequestration. An average of 65 demonstration sites per year were established over the first three years.

Climate change and greenhouse gas mitigation practices were communicated to growers by Crop Technology Branch staff through media releases, newsletter articles, meetings, tours and presentations at major conferences. A successful series of soil and nitrogen workshops were held across the province in the first and third years of the program. Presentations were given at a total of 130 meetings and 63 field days and tours. The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association administered the program in Ontario in cooperation with the Innovative Farmers Association of Ontario.

Regular Fertilization Reduces Weeds and Herbicide Use

Many communities and municipalities are concerned about herbicide use on public spaces and lawns. Developing alternative approaches to weed control that helps minimize herbicide use provides alternatives to municipalities, businesses, homeowners, and lawn care companies who want weed free lawns or turf, but don't want to use herbicides. A study conducted by Crop Technology's Turfgrass Specialist found that applying commercial fertilizer regularly to a lawn over a four-year period could reduce weed cover by five to 12 per cent. A combination of two organic fertilizers, corn gluten meal and a beet juice extract, applied over a four-year period also reduced weed cover to just below ten per cent. The study found that using spot spraying only to control weeds on plots that were fertilized regularly, could reduce herbicide use by 96 to 99 per cent. This study concluded that regular fertilizing with conventional fertilizers or organic fertilizers will keep weeds in check. This research offers options for municipalities to maintain public spaces, such municipal parks and sports fields, weed free with minimal herbicide use.

Cover Crops Achieve Effective Plant Nematode Control

Strawberries are very susceptible to both root lesion (Pratylenchus penetrans) and root knot nematodes (Meloidogyne hapla). Chemical fumigation of soil prior to planting strawberries is the preferred method for nematode control. The reliance on this single method of nematode control is costly and often viewed as non-sustainable in agriculture, since beneficial microorganisms are also eliminated in fumigated soil. To address this issue Crop Technology Branch staff conducted a trial in an established commercial strawberry field with a previous history of root lesion and root knot nematodes. The purpose of the study was to evaluate and compare the effectiveness and extent of nematode reduction in strawberries following Mustard cv. Cutlass, Marigold cv. Crackerjack and Canadian Forage Pearl Millet 101. The cover crops were compared to the nematicide Vapam and an untreated fallow plot.

Fallow and all cover crops suppressed root lesion nematode populations. Best suppression was achieved with marigolds. Fallow, marigolds and particularly the oriental mustard cv. Cutlass suppressed rootknot nematode populations. Strawberry transplants were planted across all plots in the spring of 2007 and the soil and root population levels of both root lesion and root knot nematodes will be monitored over the next two years, to determine how long the nematode suppression will last in a perennial crop. Results from this trial demonstrate the effectiveness of nematode suppressing cover crops and may be useful for managing plant parasitic nematodes in organically grown strawberries, offering an alternative to chemical control.

Celebrating 15 Years of IPM Training to Greenhouse Flower Industry

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) workshops are one of the main components supporting the implementation of IPM in Ontario floriculture greenhouses. IPM is a tool that allows growers to reduce the use of chemicals on their crops, reducing costs and potential impacts on the environment. Since 1992, workshops have been held annually during the winter. In 2007 a workshop at the end of January attracted approximately 25 participants. Information on the biology, identification, and management of pests and diseases was presented. Participants also learned about implementation of IPM and biological control. Growers had the opportunity to view first hand insect and mite specimens (both pest and beneficial), and plant disease specimens.

On-Farm Forestry Research Creating Alternative to Transplanting Tree Seedlings

Landowners understand the value of tree coverage to protect marginal land or to act as wind breaks for crop protection. Trees also provide excellent sources of carbon sequestration. However, transplanting tree seedlings is very labour intensive and time consuming. For this reason many landowners don't reforest land that is best suited for trees. Direct seeding of trees is one option being explored by Lakehead University foresters, in cooperation with Ministry of Natural Resources, Conservation Authority and OMAFRA. Crop Technology's Agroforestry Specialist is helping design and set up a project to determine the viability of seeding trees directly. Initial trials have focused on three hardwood species including red oak, bur oak and black cherry. Two sites, each two acres in size on private land, were direct seeded in spring 2006. Germination of seeds in all plots was greater than 80 per cent. A herbicide strategy was developed for the second year of growth to address the weed pressure. This herbicide strategy appears to be working well for 2007. Damage by wild herbivores including deer, voles and squirrels was significant during the first fall and winter. The direct seeding technique may be able to be adapted to a no-till seeder. Landowners could eventually be able to purchase seed for various purposes such as reforestation to hardwoods or conifers, species suited for riparian buffers or suited as shelterbelts. A new demonstration site was seeded in June 2007 at the Canada's Outdoor Farm Show with red oak using a vegetable plastic mulch applicator for weed management. If successful, direct seeding would be a more efficient and less expensive method for landowners to establish tree cover encouraging increased reforestation.

Looking at the Compatibility of Products for a Greenhouse Vegetable IPM Program

Growers aim to minimize the development of pesticide resistance, practice sustainable techniques in managing insect and disease problems, and reduce potential impacts on greenhouse pollinator populations (ie. bumblebees). These techniques are environmentally friendly and help reduce costs. Providing growers with tools and information to
assist in integrating pest control products with the use of biological control agents and pollinator populations in integrated pest management (IPM) programs is the goal of this project.

Crop Technology's Greenhouse Vegetable IPM Specialist worked with researchers from the University of Guelph and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) to develop a proposal and obtain funding for this project from AAFC's Pest Management Program and CORD IV funding from the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers. Information generated will facilitate and promote adoption of IPM techniques that ultimately result in reduced use of pesticides. Growers will be able to reduce or minimize the development of pesticide resistance and practice more sustainable techniques as a result of a better understanding of the deleterious effects on biological control agents and pollinators that are important components of a successful greenhouse vegetable operation.

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Putting you in touch with the information you need through ...

Publications

Crop recommendation publications revised and produced in 2006-2007 include:

These publications provide current production advice to producers to help them make effective crop management decisions so they are competitive in the industry.

Website

Crop Technology Branch is celebrating its 10th anniversary online. The website offers an in-depth collection of crop production relevant information 24 hours per day, seven days per week at ontario.ca/crops. Over 100,000 visits per month are made to the crop website to access technical information, images, publications, agriphones, podcasts, and conference and meeting news. There are more than 1,500 subscribers for new content notices, over 3,500 subscribers for newsletter notices and over 2,000 subscribers for our agriphone/crop update services.

Several major crop publications are available online (in both English and French) as well as in printed form. These include Publication 811, Agronomy Guide; Publication 75, Guide to Weed Control; and Publication 812, Field Crop Protection Guide. These are updated as new versions become available. Each online publication is interlinked to related pages and photos to improve user friendliness and efficiency to find up to date information. These online publications are very popular with clients accounting for 20 to 30 per cent of the visits to the OMAFRA Crops web pages.

A very successful innovation in 2006-07 was the addition of timely crop update information in a podcast audio format that clients can download to their computer or MP3 player for listening. Podcast usage is rapidly growing. The enhanced podcasts include images and website links to assist growers in disease and pest identification.

Newsletters and Factsheets

Crop newsletters account for approximately 20 per cent of the visits to the crop website and over 50 per cent of the visits are to view factsheets and infosheets that give detailed information on specific crop issues or pests.

Minor Use on the Website

OMAFRA plays a key role in prioritizing minor use needs and seeking sustainable ways to address the technology gap over the long term. The internet is a primary method of disseminating information and assisting our stakeholders in priority setting. The long-standing collaboration between Ontario and Quebec on the minor use file is clearly illustrated by our minor use website.

This website is used nationally and internationally by minor use stakeholders as the leading information source for minor use information in Canada. All new minor use registrations, priorities and active projects are listed on a crop-by-crop basis on the OMAFRA minor use webpage and are updated on a regular basis throughout the year. Key links to our provincial, national and international minor use partners are provided.

Minor use file updating is a weekly activity that requires a collaborative effort between Crop Technology Branch staff, Client Services Branch staff, and Ministère de l'Agriculture des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ) staff to ensure that the information is available in both French and English. This project demonstrated how important and strong the relationship is between Ontario and Quebec with regard to the minor use program. Years of collaboration have culminated in an excellent resource available to all of our stakeholders.

Transferring Technology Through Conferences, Seminars and Workshops

Ontario producers, agri-business members and consultants are committed to continuous education and participate in many conferences and extension events during the year. Some of these events are exclusively OMAFRA run, but most are delivered in partnership with provincial and local agricultural organizations. Crop Technology Branch staff contribute their knowledge of production challenges, current research results, and new technological advances to create interesting and interactive sessions that address the needs of Ontario producers. Staff use their large local and international networks to ensure the best possible speakers are brought in to deliver the message. In 2006-07, staff brought in several speakers from outside the province to help deliver the resources of the world to Ontario producers. All events receive good media coverage with articles and interviews from events making it into the popular press.

Crop Technology Branch staff contribute to many annual conferences, seminars and workshops in Ontario. Attendance for these events is well over 30,000 producers, agri-business members, and consultants, which has been stable from year to year, demonstrating their continued value to participants. Crop Technology Branch staff also contribute to the development of courses and workshops on an as-needed basis throughout the year to answer specific industry needs.

The following is a sampling of these conferences, seminars, workshops and courses:

  • Southwest Agricultural Conference
  • Tender Fruit Pruning Demo Days
  • FarmSmart Agricultural Conference
  • Soil Quality Workshop
  • Greenhouse IPM Workshop
  • Crop Diagnostic Days
  • Eastern Ontario Crop Conference
  • FarmSmart Farming Systems Expo
  • Guelph Organic Conference
  • Eastern Ontario Crop Diagnostic Days
  • Processing Vegetable Industry Conference
  • Turf Managers Short Course
  • Ontario Potato Field Day
  • IPM Consultants Workshop
  • Ontario Turfgrass Symposium
  • Grape Tailgate Tour
  • Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention
  • Ontario Nursery Grower IPM Workshop
  • OMAFRA IPM in the Nursery Greenhouse
  • Berry Growers Twilight Tour
  • Canada's Outdoor Farm Show
  • Leamington Tomato Day
  • North American Maple Syrup Council
  • Ontario Potato School
  • Canadian Greenhouse Conference
  • Small Fruit & Vegetable Spring Info Day
  • Essex County Associated Growers
  • Hort IPM Scout Training Workshops
  • Greenhouse Vegetable Short Course
  • Agri-business Breakfast Meetings
  • Poinsettia Variety Trial Day
  • Soil & Crop meetings, tours & updates
  • Woodlot Conferences
  • Landscape Ontario Congress
  • Ontario Weed Inspectors Meeting
  • Nursery Growers Short Course
  • Society of Ontario Nut Growers
  • IPM Workshop for Nursery Crops
  • Millet Sorghum Field Day
  • First National Herb and Spice Conference
  • IPM Workshop for Cut Flowers
  • Greenhouse Environment Night School
  • IPM Workshop for Flower Exporters
  • Utilising the Environmental Computer to Control the Greenhouse Environment
  • North American Strawberry Growers Association Winter Conference
  • Ginseng Garden Walker Training Session
  • Nutrient Management Research Update
  • Drip Irrigation Workshops
  • Soybean Rust Workshops
  • Apple Storage Clinic
  • Let's Discuss It - Bedding Plants
  • Sweet Potato Info Day
  • Fertigation Workshops
  • Hemp Information Day
  • Greenhouse Gas Project Update Meeting
  • Let's Discuss It - Poinsettias
  • Labour Seminar for Prince Edward County Wine Growers Association
  • Specialty Coloured Bean Tour
  • Great Lakes Fruit Workers Meeting
  • Swede Midge ID workshop
  • Mating Disruption Twilight Tour

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Staff Recognition

Finalist BRAVO Innovation Award

Jennifer DeEll, Fresh Market Quality Program Lead, was a finalist in the Innovation category for rising to the challenges faced by Ontario's horticultural industry through development of innovative technical and administrative solutions. The BRAVO Excellence Awards is the formal recognition component of the Ministry's employee recognition program. It's designed to recognize and thank the individuals and teams whose special contributions and accomplishments have set new standards of excellence for OMAFRA.

Canadian Phytopathological Society Award

Mike Celetti, Plant Pathologist-Horticulture Crops was awarded the 2006 Canadian Phytopathological Society Award for Achievements in Plant Disease Management. The award recognizes his work in finding solutions to problems in Plant pathology and his dedicated contribution to the field of plant disease management.

Winner OPS SPIRIT Volunteer Award

Anne Verhallen, Soil Management Specialist-Horticulture was recognized as for an OPS SPIRIT Volunteer award. OPS Spirit is a recognition program for employees of the provincial government to acknowledge the great volunteer work they perform. Anne was recognized for sharing her time as a 4-H volunteer, Chatham-Kent Heritage Days, Thamesville Youth Soccer Association, Youth for Understanding student exchange host and school volunteer.

Greenmaster Editor's Award

Pam Charbonneau, Turfgrass Specialist, was awarded the Editor's Article of the Year Award for 2006. Pam is a frequent contributor to GreenMaster magazine as well as to the Guelph Turfgrass Institute electronic newsletter. Her article on "Mastering the Moss Menace" published in the issue of GreenMaster was chosen by Editor Blair Adams as the 2006 award recipient.

Corn Specialist Named as 2007 T.R. Hilliard Award Winner

Greg Stewart, Corn Industry Program Lead, was awarded the 2007
T.R. Hilliard Award. The Hilliard award was established by the Ontario Agricultural College Alumni Foundation to recognize individuals who are making significant contributions in agricultural extension in the province of Ontario.

Described by his nominators as "a leader among extension specialists", Stewart is responsible for field-scale demonstrations and research and collects corn research from around the world to determine its applicability for Ontario producers. He collaborates with researchers, provides input on project direction and value at the farm level, and liaises with farm organizations. His outreach efforts include the Growing Ontario's Corn website (www.gocorn.net), regular articles in a number of agricultural publications, new releases and presentations. He is a popular speaker at grower meetings.

Seed of the Year Finalist for 2007

Venture processing peach has been named as a finalist in the third annual Seed of the Year competition. The variety has become one of the most popular peach varieties in North America, and accounts for nearly 30 per cent of the new processing peaches planted by Canadian growers in the last five years. This variety was developed by Ken Slingerland, Tender Fruit and Grape Specialist, in partnership with Prof. Jayasankar Subramanian and Prof. Neil Miles of the University of Guelph. Venture processing peach has superior resistance to bacterial spot disease and brown rot, two major diseases in peaches. It produces high and uniform yields, with large fruit that is desired by the processing industry.

The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario Special Award

Ken Slingerland was also part of a team to receive a special award for the establishment of the Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt. The award announced by Gord Miller, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, was given to staff from the Ministries of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Natural Resources, Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Public Infrastructure and Renewal, Transportation, Environment, Culture, Tourism, Economic Development and Trade, Attorney General and the Niagara Escarpment Commission.

Ontario Berry Growers Association Award of Merit

Pam Fisher, Berry Crop Specialist, was awarded the award of merit from the Ontario Berry Growers Association. The award recognizes Pam's commitment to the industry and years of involvement with the Association.


Agriculture Development Branch -- Crop specialists deliver research, technology and information

Publications and Factsheets

The Pick of the Crop brochure lists all major Crop Technology publications and products available for purchase. Factsheets are available free of charge at all OMAFRA Resource Centres and on the OMAFRA website at ontario.ca/crops.

OMAFRA Website - ontario.ca/crops

Through the Crops Index Page you can access:

  • factsheets, infosheets, publications and supplements
  • publications products catalogue
  • conferences, tours, workshops, announcements
  • downloadable audio including podcasts
  • crop and pest updates
  • newsletters
  • on-line subscription service
  • image galleries (herbicide injury, weeds and insects)
Seminars/Workshops/Tours

From farm tours to hands-on workshops, Crop Specialists work with agricultural organizations to deliver crop management information. Check the Crops Conferences and Meetings page on the OMAFRA website.

Conferences and Presentations

Technical Specialists are available to present information on a wide variety of new technologies.

Research and Demonstration Trials

Specialists work with provincial and local agricultural organizations to evaluate new technology and management ideas on-farm.

OMAFRA Newsletters

The following newsletters are available online or through subscription to help you keep current:

  • Crop-Pest Ontario
  • Crop Talk
  • Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Newsletter
  • HortMatters
  • Ontario Berry Grower
  • Orchard Network
  • The Tender Fruit Grapevine
  • Vegetable Viewpoint
Crop and Pest Updates

Various types of Crop and Pest Updates provide timely information and recommendations on insects, diseases and production management throughout the growing season. Updates can be accessed 24/7 and are available in a variety of formats - toll-free telephone service (formerly known as Agriphone), downloadable audio, podcasts, and text files on the OMAFRA website. Crop and Pest Updates include:

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For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
Local: (519) 826-4047
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca