Researcher breeding vegetables for Ontario conditions

02/02/2012 05:01:00 PM
Coral Beach

Courtesy Vineland ResearchValerio Primomo, a new scientist on staff at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Ontario, has begun a program to breed vegetable varieties adapted for conditions in Canada, especially for its greenhouses. A new scientist on staff at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Ontario has begun a program to breed vegetable varieties adapted for conditions in Canada, especially for its greenhouses.

Valerio Primomo’s work is in line with Vineland’s World Crops research, according to Isabel Dopta, director of the center’s communications and stakeholder relations.

Members of the fresh produce industry will have the opportunity to analyze the project and consult with Primomo to help identify which crops to target.

Different climate

Primomo said most seeds used for vegetable production in Canada were developed in the Netherlands and California.

Consequently they were not bred for optimum growth in Canada. He is working to produce varieties suited to low light and colder weather.

The temperature sensitivity is not as much of an issue for Ontario’s greenhouse growers, but low light does sometimes reduce yields, even along Lake Erie’s north shore in southwest Ontario, which gets more hours of sunlight annually than any other region in Canada.

“The flowers are the key,” said Sandra Dick, assistant director of marketing for Pure Hot House Foods in Leamington, Ontario.

“If there’s not enough sun, there won’t be enough flowers and yields will be down.”

Lighting

Low light is also the reason for the off-season for greenhouse growers.

They can’t produce during the shortest days of the year and rely on buy-sell relationships with greenhouse growers in warmer climates such as Mexico and Spain to provide their customers with year-round tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers.

Primomo believes he can also help the greenhouse growers improve their bottom lines with plants that can tolerate slightly lower temperatures.

He said lowering greenhouse temperatures just one degree could provide a savings of thousands of dollars for the growers.

His research will also include pursuit of Canada-hardy strains of exotic fruits and vegetables that are popular with Canada’s growing immigrant populations.



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