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Fruit News 2019

By Forrest Scharf (PAg) Provincial Specialist, Fruit Crops

The 2018 and 2019 fruit production seasons have been extremely challenging for some crops, but highly productive for others. In regard to native fruits (like Saskatoon berry), they have been highly productive despite the dry and cold conditions. On the other hand; many of the domestic crops like dwarf sour cherry have experienced very poor productivity for various reasons. Information pertaining to the conditions that fruit species were exposed to and how they performed under those circumstances, can be found in the 2018-2019 Disease and Insect Report.

In regard to research, there was a Strategic Field Program project initiated in 2019 at the Conservation Learning Centre located roughly 20 km south of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. The Haskap project is funded for four years and will attempt to answer agronomic questions regarding how best to manage this crop and collect data to bolster development of economic models that will be useful for industry development. Different types of mulch, irrigation, fertilization and cultivars are being tested. So far, growth differences in various treatment types and cultivars are evident, but no fruit production has occurred.

A high-profile get-together was held in April 2019, at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Agriculture and BioResources in Saskatoon. The First Nations Fruit Industry Development Workshop was well attended, and included First Nations representatives, industry representatives, fruit processing businesses, researchers and Government staff. Initiatives stemming from this meeting could lead to significant industry development and there were many valuable messages provided.

In May 2019, the annual Agri-Value Workshop was held at the Sheraton Cavalier in Saskatoon. This year’s event had a number of expert speakers that intrigued the audience with valuable insights about the status of the food industry and projections about where we are headed in the sector’s future. An outline of the event, and notes from the speaker’s presentations are available by email to Forrest Scharf, provincial fruit crops specialist.

Industry associations have been busy this past year. I have included updates regarding Canadian Cherry Producers Inc., Haskap Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Fruit Growers Association (SFGA). You can find more information about these organizations on their websites.

The intrinsic importance of pollination and bees is included within this edition. The article Sustaining Healthy Pollinator Populations provides insight about why pollination is important and guidance to cultivate habitats that support pollinators. Information about an industry supported initiative developed to ensure the sustainability of bee populations is also provided in the National Bee Farm-level Biosecurity article. Please note the links in these articles that will direct you to valuable resources related to these topics.

For Strawberry growers, an article has been included titled The History, Genetics, and Sustainability of Strawberries. A recent webinar offered via Cornell University’s Horticulture Department prompted this article. It was impressive to hear the breadth of knowledge it provided, so I felt compelled to share the link to the video and provide a bit of context for things happening within the strawberry sector in Saskatchewan.

Finally, due to a number of recent information requests, trials and tribulations experienced (by the author) when attempting to import plant material and the recent launch of the My CFIA online tool, the Plant Import Permit Requests Now Online article is provided to familiarize readers with the new Canada Food Inspection Agency system, and hopefully it will make importing plants a less stressful exercise.

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