© Copyright AgMedia Inc
by SUSAN MANN
Once a census of tender fruit trees is completed early next year, marketing board and government officials will have an accurate snapshot of what’s being grown in Ontario.
The last tree fruit census, done in 1999, is out of date. Ten years of normal annual changes coupled with tree removals and replanting due to Plum Pox virus and the closure of CanGro means “we really don’t know what we’ve got anymore,” says Len Troup, chairman of the Ontario Tender Fruit Producers’ Marketing Board.
The board needs accurate information to help it market the overall crop, he adds. “Not only will we know what our marketers have to offer to the retailers, but we also will be able to have an overview of what is in the ground, what is here now, and what is coming. We hope to give some advice to our growers on what they should be planting so we balance out our supply of fruit going to market.”
Information from the census can also be used to advise nurseries on what they should be propagating for the future.
Collaborating on the census are: the marketing board, OMAFRA and the Vineland Research Innovation Centre.
Ken Slingerland, OMAFRA’s tender fruit and grape specialist, says farmers have already been sent forms. They have to list all their tender fruit varieties, plus tree numbers and ages. “It’s kind of like an inventory of the industry.”
Officials are aiming for a survey return rate of 90 per cent. They’re confident they’ll get that number because they’ve reached it in the past. So far, 40 per cent of the completed surveys have been returned.
Usually the census is done every five years but it didn’t make sense to do it when the industry was going through so much transition during the past six to seven years. Plum Pox virus seems to be getting under control, he says. “We feel confident a tree survey at this time will be a great value to the industry.”
The goal is to finish the census by early March with results being published by the beginning of April. BF