Industry Support

Summerland Varieties Corp. plays a leading role in industry intiatives and funding of ground-breaking research and development projects that contribute to the ongoing success of the Canadian tree fruit industry domestically and internationally.

BC Tree Fruit Replant Program

SVC makes significant financial contributions to the BC Tree Fruit Replant Program, providing support for growers to replace fruit trees with varieties that will meet consumer demand for high-value, high-quality BC fruit. The province has committed $9.4 million to replace 1,600 acres of low-value tree fruits with new varieties that result in better profits for BC growers. SVC manages many of these new varieties including the Ambrosia apple, as well as the late-season StaccatoTM and SentennialTM branded cherries.

BC Fruit Growers’ Association (BCFGA) Food Safety Program

BCFGA promotes food safety that starts in the orchard. BCFGA growers follow environmentally and ecologically friendly growing methods as outlined by the Integrated Fruit Production Guide, developed by the BCFGA and industry partners. BC growers also certify their food safety practices through a variety of recognized programs including Safe Quality Foods, GlobalGAP and CanadaGAP.

SVC paid out dividends to support BCFGA’s Food Safety program, covering the cost of BC growers’ certification fees in 2016.

Canadian Tree Fruits Product Development, AgriInnovation Program (AIP)

SVC financially supports and manages BCGA’s “Canadian Tree Fruits Produce Development” project which receives $4.3 million from industry and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) to fund five-year studies.

This project is part of the Agrilnnovation Program (AIP), which falls under Growing Forward 2, the federal government’s policy framework for investing $3 billion in Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector.

As part of AIP, SVC collaborates with Ontario Apple Growers, Reseau d’essai de cultivars et port-greffes de pommier (RECUPOM), and growers in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to test new tree fruit selections in commercial orchards.

The objective of these grower tests is to identify new varieties with potential economic benefits to the Canadian apple industry and BC cherry growers.

The AIP industry contributions from SVC, BC Cherry Association and New Tree Fruit Varieties Development Council also fund research at AAFC’s Summerland Research and Development Centre:

  • Breeding and late-stage testing of apple and sweet cherry cultivars
  • Tree fruit health and horticultural practices
  • Postharvest storage and quality characterization of apples and sweet cherries
  • Sensory evaluation of apples
  • Genetic fingerprinting of high-value tree fruit cultivars

Canadian Agri-Science Cluster for Horticulture 2 – Apple Projects

SVC contributes funding for the Canadian Horticulture Council’s Apple Project Cluster, another project under AIP and Growing Forward 2. The $1.5 million project is designed to address key challenges in the apple industry including:

  • Improved storage technologies for Canadian apples
  • Predicting storage quality based on weather conditions
  • Performance on Honeycrisp on new size-controlling rootstocks
  • Biological control agents for postharvest diseases

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Virus Indexing

Though virus testing of imported plant material is vital to maintaining the integrity of Canada’s  tree fruit supply, the long time frames for testing can put Canadian growers at a competitive disadvantage. New varieties are delayed in quarantine for more than three years, which can have a significant impact on the industry’s profit margins when introducing the latest high-value variety to the marketplace.

SVC provides financial support for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Vineland Research and Innovation Centre research on the use of next generation genetic sequencing to more quickly and efficiently identify viruses and viroids in imported plant material. The technology allows more rapid introduction of new and valuable tree fruit varieties into Canada and eases the financial burden on Canadian growers.

Apple Clearwing Moth

SVC, BCFGA Research and Development Orchard Ltd. and Investment Agriculture Foundation are providing three years of funding to study control of Apple Clearwing Moth in the Okanagan Valley. This study is conducted in partnership with Okanagan-Kootney Sterile Insect Release Program (SIR) whose mandate is to reduce the use of chemical pesticides.

Apple Clearwing Moth is a wood-boring insect that was first found in Cawston in 2005 and has continued spreading to new areas of the Similkameen and Okanagan Valleys. The insect is a serious problem in high-density apple orchards, making it a high priority pest for the development of control treatments that are cost-effective, innovative, and successful for area-wide pest management.

The project includes:

  • Testing of new control techniques in very low population areas
  • A proof of concept for area-wide mating disruption in moderate to high population areas
  • Population monitoring and mapping in 2016 and 2018

Remote Sensing

SVC and Investment Agriculture Foundation are funding a project to investigate remote sensing of tree fruit orchards using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

The goal is to determine whether a UAV with remote sensing capabilities can provide quick and cost effective mapping of tree fruit orchards in the Okanagan Valley, and if those maps are useful for planning differential management practices that maximize fruit quality and yields especially for the most valuable tree fruit varieties.

Dynamic Controlled Atmosphere Storage of Organic Ambrosia Apples

SVC and the Ambrosia Council are supporting research at Cawston Cold Storage investigating the use of dynamic controlled atmosphere (DCA) for long-term storage of organic Ambrosia apples.

DCA storage is a recent innovation for the long-term storage of apples, allowing for the gradual reduction of oxygen to ultra-low levels while preventing fruit stress and the build-up of off-flavours. Currently, organic Ambrosia apples can be stored for only a maximum of five months, but DCA may allow for up to eight months storage, an important innovation given the expected increase in organic Ambrosia production in the coming years.