Good Fruit Grower

June 2016

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Page 38 of 47 Good Fruit Grower JUNE 2016 39 more effective breeding program. "You're making much better use of your acreage," Somers said. "If you stick with the same acreage, and you increase your chances of success, you're simply more likely to produce a more marketable, high-quality apple at the end of the pipe when you're all finished." Somers hopes to eventually plant 22,000 trees in the test orchard at Vineland, a former provincial research station that was long managed by the University of Guelph in Ontario and now operates as a public-private partnership. The apple breeding program was launched in 2009 with the goal of revitalizing the Ontario apple industry. "We asked our growers how we go about refreshing the variety mix in Ontario and in Canada, and everything pointed toward plant breeding," Somers explained. While federal apple breeding activities were con- solidated at the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre in Summerland, British Columbia, climatic conditions in Ontario demanded local research. While everyone wants an appealing, good-tasting apple, how to get that in the humid environment of Ontario was another matter. Traditionally, McIntosh, Gala, Empire and Red Delicious have dominated local orchards, but newer varieties, such as Ambrosia, Honeycrisp and others, have entered the market. "Our focus is really just on apple quality, the taste experience," Somers said. "You've got to come up with other properties such as storage and disease resistance, but at the outset, it's really to generate a differentiated, high-quality apple." This is where he hopes the current research program, supported with three years' worth of funding from indus- try, the province and the University of Guelph totaling Can.$220,000, makes a difference. The new set of DNA fingerprints Somers has devel- oped is already drawing attention, even though he expects it to be at least a year before he gets a taste of what the new seedlings yield on the palate. A collaboration with Summerland fruit breeder Cheryl Hampson is on the horizon, and Somers hopes the national cooperation will yield international benefits. "It's a point of trying to unify some of the apple breeding in Canada," he said. "We're looking outside our borders, too, not just within Canada. You never know how marketable certain genetics might be in other jurisdictions." • All dollar amounts are in Canadian dollars; a Canadian dollar is worth approximately 78 U.S. cents as of May 2016. Peter Mitham is a freelance writer based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Photos by Peter MithaM Young trees stand in the seven-acre test orchard at the Vineland and Innovation Research Centre in Vineland, Ontario. "One year after I watched my neighbor save most of his apple crop with Orchard-Rite ®wind machines (while I lost three quarters of mine), I decided I should do something on my farm to help ensure that I have fruit to sell every year. I purchased three Orchard-Rite ® wind machines and placed them where I had good trees but couldn't set good crops because of frost. One year the tart cherry orchard where I have a machine that covers the lower two-thirds of the orchard yielded 3 times more cherries than the one-third of the orchard that was not covered. That one machine in that one year paid for itself and half of another.We were able to raise the temperature 4 to 5 degrees (Fahrenheit). We have since added four more machines. With Orchard-Rite ® wind machines we are able to have a more consistent crop from the top of the tree to bottom every year on both apples and cherries. We are very pleased with the service we get on the wind machines. The Superior Wind Machine Service guys give them the once-over every year, keeping them in top-notch condition for the upcoming season!" -- Bob Bush Bush's Apples New Era, MI "With Orchard-Rite® wind machines we are able to have a more consistent crop from the top of the tree to bottom every year on both apples and cherries." 6919 Kra Avenue Caledonia, MI 49316 Phone: 616-971-8177 Fax: 616-971-8178

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