Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

February 19, 2009 10:01 ET

Government of Canada Announces Three New Berries at 7th Annual Agri-Food Industry Gala

ABBOTSFORD, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Feb. 19, 2009) - Ed Fast, Member of Parliament (Abbotsford), today announced the release of Nisga'a, a new early strawberry, and two new raspberries: Ukee and Rudyberry. These promising new plants will be available to growers starting this spring.

"The release of these new berry varieties is good news for both industry and consumers," said Mr. Fast, who made the announcement on behalf of Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. "This Government is working continually for farmers and Canadians by promoting innovation and advancement that will grow more opportunities for our farmers."

These new berries will translate into increased profits for farmers because they are high-yield, early ripening, naturally resistant to disease, harvestable by machine and suitable for the fresh and processed food markets. In 2007 more than 80% of Canada's red raspberries were grown in B.C., generating $12.8 million at the farm gate. Strawberries generated another $4.2 million for B.C. farmers.

"Science and innovation play an important role in helping farmers succeed," said Minister Ritz, who addressed the Pacific Agriculture Show's Agri-Food Industry Gala by video conference. "These berries will create new market opportunities for farmers because as you know, farmers want to make their money in the marketplace, not the mailbox."

"Growers need new varieties to help us get ahead of problems like root rot," says Rudy Janzen, an Abbotsford raspberry farmer after whom the Rudyberry is named. "I became involved in testing because I think it's very important for growers to have a chance to say which varieties will work for them."

BACKGROUNDER

Developing new berry varieties

New berry varieties undergo 8 to 15 years of rigorous testing and selection before they are offered to the industry. They are tested for yield, size, colour, taste, cooking and processing quality, and natural resistance to diseases and pests. Selecting for natural resistance is an effective and economical approach to controlling pests and diseases and lowers the impact on the environment by reducing the need for chemical sprays.

New varieties developed by the Small Fruit Breeding Program at PARC-Agassiz are traditionally named using local First Nation words. The program has produced several varieties of strawberries, including Totem, a popular variety in the Pacific Northwest. The program also developed Chemainus, the most planted raspberry variety in B.C., and Tulameen, a raspberry which is very sought after in the fresh market.

To develop new raspberry varieties, PARC-Agassiz research staff collaborate with the University of the Fraser Valley and the B.C. Raspberry Industry Development Council.

To develop new strawberry varieties, PARC-Agassiz research staff collaborate with the University of the Fraser Valley, the Fraser Valley Strawberry Growers Association, and the Washington Strawberry Commission. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada also has strawberry breeding programs in Kentville, Nova Scotia, and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.

Three new berries

Nisga'a is a high-yielding, early-ripening strawberry variety producing large medium-dark red, firm and glossy fruit with a pleasant and sweet flavour. Nisga'a was named after the First Nations people residing in the Nass River Valley of northwestern British Columbia. The name refers to the abundance food in the Nass river, where a multitude of creatures go to feed.

Ukee is a high-yielding raspberry variety producing firm large-sized fruit suited for both the fresh and processing markets. It has excellent resistance to root rot and also resists the large raspberry aphid, Amphorophora agathonica, a pest which transmits the raspberry mosaic virus complex. Ukee is short for Ucluelet, which translates as "the people with the safe landing place."

Rudyberry is a high-yielding raspberry variety producing firm large-sized fruit suited for both the fresh and processing markets. It is highly machine harvestable with its harvest season coming earlier than the industry standard variety "Meeker." Rudyberry has shown resistance to root rot and also resists the large raspberry aphid, Amphorophora agathonica, a pest which transmits the raspberry mosaic virus complex. Rudyberry was named after Rudy Janzen, an Abbotsford farmer who was the first to plant it on his farm and played an important role in testing it.

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