Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

February 19, 2009 13:21 ET

Federal Investment Will Make Atlantic Apple Industry More Competitive

KENTVILLE, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwire - Feb. 19, 2009) - The Government of Canada will invest in research to expand market opportunities and help make the Atlantic apple industry more competitive.

"This Government supports research and innovation that delivers real results to Canadian farmers, especially during these difficult economic times," said Gerald Keddy, Member of Parliament for South Shore - St. Margaret's, who announced the funding on behalf of Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. "By investing in the apple industry, we are helping growers seize the increasing consumer demand for local and high-quality nutrition."

This four-year project with a federal investment of just over $218,000 will plant or graft between 30 and 50 existing apple varieties on to existing apple trees. They will then be evaluated on their taste, yield and their hardiness to weather, insects, disease and storage. The apples will be grown at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Atlantic Food and Horticulture Research Centre in Kentville, Nova Scotia, and at grower test sites across the Maritimes.

Of all the apples produced in Canada, close to 11 per cent come from the Maritime provinces with most of those coming from Nova Scotia. In 2006, Maritime apples generated more than $1.3 billion in sales and that was multiplied by value-added processing. More than 45,000 tonnes of apples were produced in the Maritime provinces in 2007. The farm gate value from the three provinces was close to $14 million for that year.

"Nova Scotia's apple industry has been a mainstay of the agricultural sector since the early settlers arrived and it continues to contribute significantly to our provincial economy," said Mark Parent, Minister of Agriculture for Nova Scotia. "One way to ensure that the industry remains competitive is through the identification and development of new apple varieties for consumers and markets."

Federal funding for this project is being provided through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food (ACAAF) program. Through initiatives like ACAAF, the Government encourages agricultural industries to explore new opportunities that will improve the economy and environment. While the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Association will be the lead on the four-year project, the agricultural consulting company AgraPoint and the Nova Scotia apple producer cooperative, Scotian Gold, will be partners.

"Before planting new apple cultivars it is important that they be evaluated for growth and production potential in the region," said Brian Boates, President of the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Association. "Cultivar evaluation is very important to the future progress of this industry."

For more information on ACAAF, please visit www.agr.gc.ca/acaaf.

BACKGROUNDER

The apple industry in the region is experiencing a revitalization based on the uniqueness and success of a new variety, Honey Crisp. Growers want to continue this revitalization with additional new varieties that will grow well in the Maritimes and satisfy a growing demand for local, unique and nutritious apples.

Currently, close to 11 per cent of Canada's apples are produced in the Maritimes, with most coming from Nova Scotia. The region produced more than 47,000 tonnes of apples in 2007 with a value of $14 million.

This project will expand on cultivar evaluation trials started about a decade ago under a memorandum between the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture, the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Association and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.



The apple trials will be conducted in two ways:

- First, cuttings from international apple varieties will be grafted onto
Maritime apple trees, allowing fruit to be produced in the first year of
the trial.
- Secondly, in the search for new varieties, apple trees that are four to
five feet in height will be planted and observed for development over
four years.


The trees and the fruit will be evaluated for their hardiness to weather, insects, disease and apple qualities like taste and texture. Fruit is generally produced in the third year.

Project Contribution Breakdown - $263,000



- Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Advancing Canadian Agriculture and
Agri-Food program (ACAAF) program (just over $218,000), to be delivered
by:
- Agri-Futures Nova Scotia ($189,500)
- New Brunswick Agricultural Council ($26,000)
- PEI ADAPT Council ($3,400)
- The Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Association ($44,000)

Contact Information

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Media Relations
    613-759-7972
    1-866-345-7972
    or
    The Office of the Honourable Gerry Ritz
    Meagan Murdoch
    Press Secretary
    613-759-1059