Tuesday, July 31

Are trees the next canola

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

At Prince Albert’s Saskatchewan Forest Centre, the future is one in which we can see the forest, and the trees. The centre is working on research that may one day create an agroforestry industry that parallels our current conventional agriculture sector.

“We are optimistic that there will be new developments which will make trees a viable choice among the options in the farming system,” says SFC Business Development Manager Doug Currie. “It is reminiscent of the evolution of canola or pulse crops. When you look at the acreages in production of those crops today versus where we started, and how long it took, 20 years doesn’t seem like a long time.”

The 20 years Currie refers to is the current production horizon for hybrid poplar, the most common farmed tree species.

“If we could get the 20-year horizon on poplar down to 18 or 15 years, there would be a substantial change in the economics,” says Currie. “The economics we’ve studied suggest that, looking back at the past 25 years, a producer could make more money in poplars than in wheat.”

The Saskatchewan Forest Centre was created as a non-profit corporation in 2001. Its mandate is to promote the acquisition, creation and dissemination of knowledge to expand Saskatchewan’s forest industry in a sustainable fashion.

The centre’s core approach is to create partnerships that allow knowledge and technology to be brought to Saskatchewan and made available to companies and producers in the agroforestry sector. The SFC recently received a $100,000 sustaining grant from Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food.

“We are an organization that is partner-based, and we have leveraged the partner expertise to improve our ability to bring technology here for producers,” says Doug Currie. “Our focus is growing trees on farms, to make money.”

Currie cites partnerships with groups like the University of Saskatchewan, the PFRA, the Saskatchewan Research Council and Ducks Unlimited as the kind of relationships that allow the SFC to foster scientific co-operation and information exchange on agroforestry to the benefit of Saskatchewan.

“We jointly released a strategy on agroforestry with the university,” says Currie. “It outlines the steps we believe have to happen to move the industry forward, including more dedicated research and development programs focused on the commercial aspects of tree production.”

Currie says Saskatchewan enjoys one huge advantage over most jurisdictions looking at commercial tree production: available land mass.

“You’ve got relatively low land costs, and competition for land is less,” says Currie. “Around any given point where a production facility is located, if, within a hour’s drive you plant two per cent of the land to trees, you can support an engineered wood plant. That might mean an industry creating 100 to 200 local jobs.”

In addition to farming trees for wood, new markets are opening up to use agroforestry for the production of biomass to create energy, and as a highly efficient carbon sink for the emerging world trade in carbon credits.

“Trees will sequester the equivalent of as much as five to eight tons of carbon dioxide per acre per year,” says Currie. “The value of that carbon sink could make the difference in the early years of a tree operation by providing some cash flow.”

The Saskatchewan Forestry Centre is currently associated with approximately 50 demonstration sites of tree farming throughout the province.

For more information, contact:
Doug Currie, Business Development Manager
Saskatchewan Forest Centre
Phone: (306) 765-2840

Canola powers Saskatoon transit system

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

After a two-year test project, the Saskatoon Transit System has decided to convert all of its buses to biodiesel fuel created with Saskatchewan canola oil. Effective this summer, all 112 buses in the fleet are running on a one percent blend of canola oil and diesel. Saskatoon Transit Manager Jeff Balon says they began exploring the conversion out of concern for the environment.

“At Saskatoon Transit, we pride ourselves on being stewards of the environment,” says Balon. “We realize that conventional diesel is not a renewable resource. There are some products out there that were worthwhile exploring.”

The initial study was funded by Western Economic Diversification Canada, the Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission and the Canadian Canola Growers Association. Over a two-year period, a team headed by University of Saskatchewan engineering professor Barry Hertz studied the impact of using biodiesel in four City of Saskatoon buses.

The study concluded that, over the two-year period, using biodiesel instead of conventional diesel had reduced fuel consumption by three per cent, reduced engine wear on the test buses by 20 per cent, and provided a seven percent decrease in the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the buses.

Transit buses are very long-running vehicles, expected to log close to 1,000,000 kilometres during their operating life. A major overhaul of a bus motor costs an estimated $30,000, so the engine wear reduction is seen as an important means to reduce maintenance.

“The biodiesel provides extra lubricity for the engines and reduces engine wear, a major cost item for us,” says Jeff Balon. “All around, it’s a no-brainer; it’s a big winner for us.”

Saskatoon becomes the first jurisdiction in North America to convert its entire transit bus fleet to biodiesel, and they’ve sparked the interest of transit systems in Regina and Edmonton, as well as the Canadian Urban Transit Association, the national group representing all transit systems in Canada.

It’s no accident that the biodiesel being used in Saskatoon buses is supplied by Milligan Bio-Tech, based in Foam Lake.

“We always look for local suppliers,” says Jeff Balon. “Why wouldn’t we support our own farmers and industry?”

With the initial study in the books and the decision made to go one percent biodiesel, what’s next?

A further study to test a five-per-cent blend in four new buses.

“We’ve ordered two hybrid diesel-electric buses and two brand new conventional 40-foot diesel buses, to compare the use of the five-per-cent blend,” says Balon.

The latest study will take about a year, before a decision is made about increasing the biodiesel blend for the entire fleet.

For more information, contact:
Jeff Balon, Manager
Saskatoon Transit
Phone: (306)975-2630
E-mail: jeff.balon@saskatoon.ca
Website: www.saskatoon.ca

New leader in place for Saskatchewan meat processing industry

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Thomson Meats, the home of the Saskatchewan Toll Processing Centre, now has a new CEO in place to help advance its operations and build the province’s meat processing industry.

Paul Kowdrysh has been hired to lead the Melfort-based organization. Kowdrysh has had an active 20-year career developing and leading companies to profitability and success.

“Paul has worked nationally and internationally, really as a turnaround specialist helping organizations develop profitable ventures,” said Catherine Folkersen, the Food Industry Unit Manager with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food. “He’s done that in Asia; he’s done that in North America; he has a terrific resumé in this area, and we’re feeling extremely fortunate to have him here.”

Folkersen says it was more than just an exciting challenge that attracted Kowdrysh to Saskatchewan from Ontario. “He looked at Saskatchewan as a positive lifestyle change for his family, and decided that this was an opportunity he was interested in.”

As the new CEO of Thomson Meats, part of Kowdrysh’s responsibilities will be to increase the client base for the Toll Processing Centre, expanding the province’s value-added meat industry at the same time.

The centre was established at Thomson Meats as part of the Government of Saskatchewan’s $3.3 million Meat Processing Strategy, announced in 2005.

Folkersen says the centre complements other services that are available to individuals and businesses with an idea for a new food product.

“Getting into the food processing industry can be very expensive,” she noted. “Our goal has been to help make that process a lot easier, a lot cheaper and a lot more feasible for people who want to take a raw commodity—grown or raised here in Saskatchewan—and turn it into a value-added product they can then market on the world stage.”

Folkersen says the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre in Saskatoon, established to help companies develop products and test them on the marketplace, is the first step in that effort.

If their idea is for a value-added meat product, the Saskatchewan Toll Processing Centre then provides them with the opportunity to have it processed into its final state without having to construct their own facility.

“It’s a federally registered plant, where entrepreneurs can get their products processed at commercial rates. So, rather than having to build your own plant, you can have it done here and instead focus your energy on further developing your markets,” Folkersen said.

“In this manner, you don’t have to make the major infrastructure investment required to set up your own facility until you’re absolutely ready.”

Clients enter into a contract with the centre to have their products processed for a charge. Clients can provide the raw product to the centre if it comes from a federally registered facility, or the centre can simply procure it on their behalf. The client then arranges for the final product to be picked up when processing is complete.

Folkersen feels that Kowdrysh’s hiring is the boost the centre needs to take it to the next level. “I think this is a great opportunity for Saskatchewan people interested in getting into the meat processing industry, because there’s a very capable leader there,” she stated.

For more information on the services of the Saskatchewan Toll Processing Centre, contact Thomson Meats in Melfort at (306) 752-2802.

For more information, contact:
Catherine Folkersen, Manager – Food Industry Unit
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 933-5768
E-mail: cfolkersen@agr.gov.sk.ca

A snapshot in time: assessing your pasture mid-season

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The health of your pasture is determined by its ability to perform important ecologic functions. The production of forage for livestock, the protection of the site from soil and water erosion, the cycling of nutrients and energy, and the capture and release of water are examples of the benefits a healthy pasture provides for society.

Maintaining a healthy pasture means sustainable grazing opportunities for producers. But it’s not something producers can simply take for granted. They will want to monitor their pastures from time to time and conduct health assessments to ensure they are properly managing the land to achieve its full potential.

According to Jodie Horvath, a livestock development specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF), conducting a health assessment is like taking a snapshot of your pasture. It can help identify problem areas, such as patches of invasive weeds, uneven distribution of cattle throughout a paddock and damage to sensitive water sites.

“The first step in improving management is being aware of the issues,” Horvath said. “This allows a producer to make changes while it is still manageable. A quick survey of your pasture tells how your management has impacted a particular site.”

Take a closer look at your pasture. Are the types of grass you seeded present? In a tame pasture, you want the species you have introduced to be dominant. However, you can expect composition to change over time and with variable weather conditions. The SAF publication, Field Guide: Identification of Common Seeded Forage Plants of Saskatchewan, can help you identify the forage species that are in your pasture.

Take note of the weeds. What are they and how are they distributed around the pasture? Do you remember seeing them last year? Are they in solid patches or scattered throughout the field? Thriving weeds may be a sign that your seeded forage lacks the vigour to compete effectively against the weeds. Weeds are invasive by nature, so any bare ground provides opportunities for them to establish. Two SAF publications, FAQ: Identifying Weeds (Broad-leafed) and FAQ: Control of Selected Weeds on Pastures and Hay Land in Saskatchewan, can be found on the SAF website at www.agr.gov.sk.ca.

What do you see when you look down at the ground? The dead and decaying plant material from last year is litter. Litter performs an important function in your pasture by enhancing forage production through water, mineral and nutrient cycling. It protects the soil against wind and water erosion, and buffers against dry conditions by aiding moisture retention and reducing soil moisture loss.

It is important to monitor your pasture throughout the season, as well as from year to year. Identifying trends and patterns lets you know if the management decisions you made are working, or if you need to make some changes. For more information regarding the condition of your pasture, contact SAF’s Livestock Development Branch at 306-787-9112 or your nearest SAF Regional Office, or visit the SAF website. You can also contact the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377.

For more information, contact:
Jodie Horvath, Livestock Development Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 786-1509
E-mail: jhorvath@agr.gov.sk.ca

Grant ensures testing of newest grain crop varieties

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Saskatchewan producers will again have the opportunity to evaluate and compare the newest grain varieties for production on their farms.

This opportunity is made possible by an industry/government partnership. For the third year, Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF) has provided the partnership with a $100,000 grant.
An entry fee system is then used in which variety owners or companies with the distribution rights to a particular variety pay a portion of the cost of having the variety tested. The Saskatchewan Seed Growers Association (SSGA) also makes a financial contribution to the program.

The committee that administers the program is the Saskatchewan Variety Performance Group (SVPG). The committee is composed of representatives from organizations with an interest in providing variety testing information. Public and private research institutions conduct the testing and compile the data.

“The program creates a database providing producers with independent, comparative information on the varieties they grow,” says Blaine Recksiedler, the Cereal and Organic Crops Specialist with SAF. “The published results, including data from the co-op trials (pre-registration), present information on yield and agronomics and on certain market-related traits valuable to producers. Comparisons are made to a commonly grown check variety.”

“It has been indicated that producers value third-party variety testing as an important source of information when making cropping decisions,” added Recksiedler.

Testing requires several steps. First, trials are conducted using uniform protocols and standard check varieties. Second, data are collected from as many sites as are available and statistically analyzed. Third, results are aggregated over a number of years and on an area basis.

Variety trials are designed to measure the yield differences that are due to genetic causes while minimizing variability due to non-genetic factors such as moisture, temperature, transpiration, weeds, diseases and pests.

SeCan Association will administer the funding for SVPG. As well, crop co-ordinators will manage the data and provide expertise in their respective crops.

The results of the testing are then reviewed by the Council on Grain Crops, which also updates disease and other agronomic information, and approves the data prior to publication.

Producers will be able to access this information in early January during Crop Production Week in the Varieties of Grain Crops publication, which is also found in SaskSeed, the SSGA’s seed guide.

Crops in the SVPG program include wheat, barley, oats and flax; however, the SAF grant also provides support to organizations that are testing other crop varieties, including canola, pulses, winter wheat, sunflowers and canary seed. Variety information for these crops is also provided in the Varieties of Grain Crops.

For more information, contact:
Blaine Recksiedler, Cereal and Organic Crops Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 787-4664
E-mail: brecksiedler@agr.gov.sk.ca

Vision succeeding for Prairie Berries

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

With the addition of 100,000 new trees presently underway, Saskatchewan’s own Prairie Berries Inc. is on it’s way to becoming the largest saskatoon orchard in the world.

Currently, the orchard founded and operated by Sandy Purdy near Keeler has 10 acres of saskatoons; however, with an investment from an Alberta business partner, the operation will expand by some 120 acres.

“It has always been the company’s plan to expand,” Purdy said. “Our vision statement from the day we started Prairie Berries was to be recognized worldwide for the supply of saskatoons in the international market.” This expansion is certainly a step in the right direction.

Purdy outlined several factors that played a role in the decision to increase the company’s size at this point in time. “The market opportunities that are being presented to us by customers, both in the domestic and the international marketplace, have had a major impact in our decision,” she stated.

“With that in mind, these opportunities require a guarantee on our part to ensure an adequate supply to our clients year over year. The expansion was a strategy that we undertook to make sure we had a certain volume of supply that we knew we could count on every year.”

Prairie Berries currently pulls its supply from 27 growers across all three Prairie provinces. But Purdy says they needed to increase that in order to hit their targets throughout the next five years. The risk was that many of these operations were established as u-pick orchards, so the supply numbers were small and could fluctuate quite a bit from year to year.

“This situation was somewhat threatening to our supply guarantee,” she said. “By expanding, we are able to guarantee 40 per cent of our total supply using our own orchard. This brings the risk down considerably.”

Purdy feels that saskatoons have become more popular over the years for several reasons. First is an increased awareness brought about by the marketing initiatives of Saskatoon Berry Partners Inc., an organization Purdy formed in 2003 which amalgamates the efforts of over a dozen growers to increase supply and provide added value, both to the market and for the individual growers. Using a value chain management system, the growers are able to work together towards common goals.

Second, saskatoons hold health properties that are very attractive to consumers. Eating three-quarters of a cup (around 100 grams) of saskatoons provides 24 per cent of the recommended daily intake of fibre. “With trends in the marketplace for more nutritional foods, and demographics looking to change the way people eat, a diet high in fibre can have significant positive health benefits,” Purdy suggested.

Third, the antioxidant properties of saskatoons also contribute to improved health. “Research studies that we have done in the past couple of years have proved that saskatoons are about two to three times higher in antioxidants than blueberries,” she stated. Although there are several ways to measure antioxidants, the study was done using the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) scalar value.

Fourth, Purdy feels that proactive strategies aimed at changing people’s lifestyles and eating habits have helped to create an increased demand for saskatoons.

Purdy says she wants to see Saskatchewan become more self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables. She says that Prairie Berries hopes to contribute to that vision by being recognized as a major player in the overall Saskatoon market with respect to both supply and processing.

Prairie Berries currently has a primary and a secondary processing plant. However, given the projected demand, Purdy says these plants are not big enough to handle the required supply. The company’s ideal vision is to consolidate the primary and secondary plants into a single, centralized operation which can handle larger volumes.

With this centralized location, they will not only be able to support their own berries, but other growers who may have market opportunities if they are able to get their berries handled and processed in a federally inspected facility.

For more information, contact:

Sandy Purdy
Prairie Berries Inc.
E-mail: prairieberries@sasktel.net
Website: www.prairieberries.com

Clarence Peters
Fruit Development Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 788-2018
Phone: 306-787-4666

Low tech could mean big savings for hog producers

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Managing the escalating cost of building hog barns to finish pigs is a real challenge for the pork industry. Construction of a swine barn in Saskatchewan costs $350 to $370 per pig-space compared to $300 to $320 in the United States. As a result, more weanling pigs are shipped to the U.S. for finishing, which has a negative effect on the profitability and long-term stability of the provincial industry.

Sask Pork and the Prairie Swine Centre are looking into low-cost swine housing, based on locally available low-cost building material, as a potential solution.

One promising approach they are investigating is building barns out of bales.

“We undertook a project looking at the possibilities of using contract finishing as a way to increase hog production in Saskatchewan. Through that project, we found that the cost of building a new barn is quite high, and we wanted to look at low-cost methods of producing a structure to house swine,” said Mark Ferguson, the Manager of Industry and Policy Analysis with Sask Pork.

“We were approached by a company called C and C Feeders that had a novel idea of using a hybrid structure consisting of flax bale walls and a regular barn roof.”

With funding from the Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food Saskatchewan (ACAAFS) program, Sask Pork is now testing the hybrid barn concept with a prototype building erected near Humboldt.

“The key is to find a structure that provides the same benefits as modern hog barns,” Ferguson said. “But you need to be able to maintain the feed efficiency and the feed conversions to be cost-effective. Instead of liquid manure, this barn uses a straw-based system.”

The critical factors that must be controlled in a finishing barn are temperature and humidity, according to Ferguson. With the bale structure, air flow is managed by opening and closing tarp covers at the entrances, and through the flax bale walls, instead by high-priced mechanical ventilation.

“The primary variable we are testing here is the temperature in the barn throughout the summer and winter, in terms of productivity, and how the hogs coming out of the facility measure up,” Ferguson stated. “The bales provide pretty good insulation. The question is the management of humidity, especially in the winter. Our theory is that moisture may be able to pass through the bales, which could be a very large advantage.”

The design of the flax bale structure suggests that its cost efficiency would be a substantial improvement over traditional hog barns. It has been estimated that , instead of $350 per pig-space, the cost of this new concept could come in as low as $150 per pig-space.

The Prairie Swine Centre is providing technical expertise and helping to measure the outcomes of the project. Funding allows for a two-year time frame, with the final report on the flax bale barn expected to be filed in 2009.

Ferguson says the hog sector has been growing steadily over the past few years. At last count, 2.6 million pigs were being raised each year in an estimated 430 Saskatchewan barns.

Sask Pork is aiming to find innovative approaches that will allow producers to finish more of their pigs here, rather than shipping them to out-of-province destinations. If the bale structure proves feasible, it could help reduce the capital costs of the barns, thereby reducing total production costs.

For more information, contact:
Mark Ferguson, Manager, Industry and Policy Analysis
Sask Pork
Phone: (306) 244-7752
E-mail: mferguson@saskpork.com
Website: www.saskpork.com

Agriculture still a key part of Saskatoon Exhibition

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Residents of Saskatoon and surrounding area are in for a treat the week of August 7 to 12. The annual Saskatoon Exhibition hosted by Prairieland Park will be in full swing all week long, with the promise of a pleasurable, fun-filled experience for all ages.

Mark Regier, the CEO of Prairieland Park Corporation, says the fair has been an institution in the city since 1886, even though it has grown and changed in many ways over its lifetime.

“It started out as a summer fair with a lot of different events focused around agriculture,” Regier stated. “Through the years, it has evolved to include many different types of attractions. Plus, we have a lot of exciting shows, showcases and activities, on top of the carnival and the midway. We always try to bring out the latest in entertainment.”

But Regier is quick to add that the exhibition has stayed true to its roots with a number of agricultural and prairie attractions. One of its most popular traditions is the Canadian Professional Chuckwagon Races, a world-class competition that will be back again at this year’s event. “It’s a Saskatchewan favourite, and a very popular draw to our event,” he said.

Horse enthusiasts will also enjoy the Graham Sisters trick riding performance, a new feature for 2007. The Ken Jen Racing Pigs are another attraction that always provides audiences with a lot of laughs.

“We feel that we have programming for kids, teenagers and young adults, right through to seniors, so we are hoping that all ages will attend,” Regier noted.

“The fair is primarily a community celebration. It’s a chance to come out and see your friends and neighbours, and to celebrate your community.”

This year’s event features a cross-section of entertainment. Nickelback, a band with over 23 million records sold worldwide and numerous album, radio and video accolades, will headline opening night.

Country recording artist Corb Lund, as well as Kim Mitchell, Hedley, and the Doodlebops, a pop band for pre-school kids, are also set to perform over the course of the exhibition.

Other popular attractions include a first-class midway, a Saskatchewan youth talent competition, a strongman challenge, a demolition derby, a comedic hypnotist and the “Super Dogs” show.

Those who enjoy the arts and crafts will find entertainment at the Showcase of Arts, which features works of fine art, photography and creative home art.

“Plus, there are fireworks every night. We try to have a little bit for everybody here to see and do,” Regier stated.

To get in on the fun and excitement, Superpass tickets can be purchased before and during the exhibition. These include gate admission and midway rides for any one day, and can be purchased at any Safeway or Mac’s convenience store. Prices vary depending on the date purchased.

For more information regarding this year’s fun-filled event, visit the fair’s website at www.saskatoonexhibition.ca.

For more information, contact:
Mark Regier, CEO
Saskatoon Prairieland Park Corporation
Phone: (306) 931-7149
Website: www.saskatoonexhibition.ca

Grazing crop residue a good way to cut feed costs

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

It’s only mid-summer, but it’s not too early for beef producers to plan ahead for fall grazing with their cattle herds.

In Saskatchewan, we produce massive amounts of straw and chaff each year after combining. Field grazing of these residues can provide very economical nutrition for beef cows during the fall and winter months.

When annual crops are grown and harvested for seed, the crop residue is essentially a by-product generated at no extra cost. The cheapest and easiest method of using these residues as cattle feed is field piling or field collection with an attachment on the combine, followed by field grazing.

A manufacturer in Alberta has taken the concept of crop residue bunching to a new level by inventing a tool called the “Whole Buncher.” The device looks somewhat like a giant pitchfork attached to the back of a combine. It collects the chaff and straw and dumps the material in piles approximately three feet high, four feet wide, and five feet long. The unit trips automatically and resets back into place with a counter balance weight.

Lorne Klein, a Forage Development Specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF), says the device offers a unique spin on the idea of using harvest remnants for feeding cattle. “Instead of the crop residue being baled and hauled to the cattle, the piles are left in the field for the livestock to graze on during fall and winter,” Klein explained.

“This reduces the amount of fuel that would ordinarily need to be burned in the feed production process. As a result, it’s a much ‘greener’ approach, and it reduces the input costs to the farmer.”

Klein points out that a producer in Saskatchewan has taken the same concept and built a unit to collect the chaff only. The chaff piles are approximately one foot high, four feet wide, and three feet long.

During fall and winter, the crop residue piles can be grazed exclusively or supplemented depending on the feed quality and the nutritional requirements of the cows. If the piles are properly managed and cleaned up, there is no problem with any residual field trash causing difficulties during seeding the following spring.

But Klein says there are a few considerations that farmers need to take into account before moving to a feeding system that includes crop residue grazing.

First, since cattle will be turned out to graze, the fields will need to be fenced, at least temporarily. “An electric fence is usually a low-cost option,” he noted.

Second, the field will require a water source. However, Klein says that, under the right conditions, snow can serve as an alternative source of water on fields without a creek, dugout or well. “It’s been scientifically proven that cows that have been properly conditioned can survive on snow, provided you have at least three to four inches of it and it’s relatively soft.”

Third, some form of shelter will be needed to protect the animals from high winds if they are to graze there through cold weather. Shelter can take the form of natural barriers like bushes, trees or a creek area, or a portable windbreak that the farmer puts up for protection.

Producers interested in obtaining more information on the Whole Buncher crop residue collector or on other approaches to field grazing can contact Lorne Klein at (306) 848-2382 or lklein@agr.gov.sk.ca.

For further information, contact:
Lorne Klein, Forage Development Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 848-2382
E-mail: lklein@agr.gov.sk.ca

Fruit tour to discuss new markets and techniques

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The Irrigation Development Branch of Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF) will be hosting a Fruit Tour in Outlook during the afternoon of July 31.

The event will outline potential markets and irrigation techniques to aid current fruit growers and recruit new growers to the expanding sector.

The tour comes at a time when new markets are emerging in the fruit industry and growers require knowledge in various areas to maximize their potential.

The tour is open to anyone with an interest in fruit. However, as Lana Shaw, an irrigation agrologist with SAF, explained, “The focus is on potential commercial growers and individuals who want to be in the business of producing or processing fruit.”

Many aspects of the fruit industry will be highlighted at the event. “The main purpose is to provide individuals who might be interested in becoming fruit producers with the information, tools and services that they need to do the job,” Shaw stated.

One of the foci is on commercial production, which entails using large-scale fruit production to make a commercial impact on the economy.

The event begins with a tour of the Canada-Saskatchewan Irrigation Diversification Centre orchard, which will feature strawberry crowns, saskatoon rejuvenation, sour cherries, haskap (blue honeysuckle), a fruit harvester demonstration, and research on fruit dehydration.

Growers will then tour the J.W.D. Market Garden, receive information on orchard irrigation, and view an agroforestry demonstration project.

“We will have information from a number of different production associations. The Canadian Cherry Producers and Haskap Canada will be represented, so growers will be able to get a snapshot of what is happening in the industry and where they might fit in,” Shaw noted.

“We are also going to be highlighting some of the government services that are available, both provincially and federally, to help people make the business plans and come up with the financing to start a new venture like this.”

A couple of important industry individuals will serve as guest speakers at the event. Larry White with the Saskatchewan Forestry Centre is involved in agroforestry using orchards. He will be providing an update on a trade mission that recently returned from Japan, where promising potential new markets for haskaps have been located.

Bruce Hill from the Canadian Cherry Producers Inc. will also discuss a study conducted for cherry primary processing plants and outline plans that are being considered for the industry’s future based on the findings.

The tour is expected to give current and potential fruit growers the opportunity to discover the latest developments in the industry, including new fruit markets and updated irrigation techniques.

More information is available at the Saskatchewan Fruit Growers website at www.saskfruit.com, or by calling the Irrigation Development Branch of SAF at (306) 867-5500.

For more information, contact:
Lana Shaw, Irrigation Agrologist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 867-5512