OMAFRA/OSCIA Alternative & Specialty Crop Demonstration at the COFS


Job’s tears (Coix lacryma-jobi) is one of ten gluten free grain crops featured in the Alternative and Specialty Crop Demonstration at the 2014 COFS.

There is only one day left to explore the OMAFRA/OSCIA Alternative and Specialty Crop Demonstration site at the Canada Outdoor Farm Show (COFS). This year the alternative crop demonstration site focuses on gluten free grain crops and industrial oilseed crops. Other OMAFRA/OSCIA demonstrations at the show include woodlot and tree-crop opportunities, cover crops and organic amendments, dribble bar technology, strategies to maintain continuous 30% soil cover, edible beans, a manure spill and clean-up demo and much more!

For more information, visit the COFS website at and learn more about specialty crops on the OMAFRA Specialty Cropportunties website at

Posted in Grain Amaranth, Oil Crops, Other Industrial Crops, Other Specialty Grains, Quinoa, Specialty Grains, Teff | Tagged | Leave a comment

Powdery mildew detected in Ontario hops

From Alison Grant, OMAFRA/University of Guelph Undergraduate Student Experiential Learning Program Student and Melanie Filotas, OMAFRA IPM Specialist:

While downy  mildew is likely the most problematic disease of hops in Ontario, growers should be aware that another well known pathogen of hops, powdery  mildew, can also occur here.  Powdery mildew was observed in the last few weeks on hops in the Simcoe area. Symptoms were quite isolated and harvest was almost complete, thus it was not likely to have a significant impact on cones this year.  However, it is still important for Ontario growers to be aware that this disease can occur in their crops, and to be able to distinguish between it and downy mildew, as they have different management strategies.

Continue reading

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Not All Mildews Are Created Equal!

By Sean Westerveld and Melanie Filotas, OMAFRA

Over the last few weeks we have had a number of questions about “mildew”.  Mildew can refer to either downy or powdery mildew, and it seems that some growers have been confusing the two.  While both cause fuzzy growth on plant leaves, that is where the similarities end.  Downy and powdery mildew are actually very different diseases with different management strategies, and mistaking the two can be costly.

Downy and powdery mildew are common to a wide variety of fruit, vegetable and even some field crops.  They tend to be relatively specific, attacking only one or a few closely related crops.  So, for example, the downy mildew of basil will not affect cucurbits, and vice versa.  Some crops are affected by both a powdery mildew and a downy mildew disease (e.g. hops and cucurbits). Continue reading

Posted in Herbs, Hops, Industrial and Misc. Crops, Specialty Fruit and Nuts, Specialty Grains, Specialty Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Notes on Pruning Winter-Damaged Lavender

Previous articles on this blog have focused on the best methods of pruning in a typical year. With the winter damage this year, pruning techniques may need to be modified to get plants back to a rounded shape. To complicate pruning, many damaged plants are sending up new flower stalks, resulting in a late and staggered harvest. Here are some thoughts on pruning affected plants: Continue reading

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Ginseng Crop Update – August 22, 2014

We have been finding a significant amount of aphids in ginseng fields over the past few weeks. They have been found on all ages of ginseng and several areas of the ginseng growing region. Look for aphids on the underside of the leaves and along the petioles of the leaflets (Figure 1). They can often be found clustering on the midrib of the leaflet or along a vein. Aphids are sucking insects that stay relatively stationary on the leaves. The sucking removes sugars from the plant and can reduce energy needed for root growth if populations reach sufficient levels. Aphids can be best identified by their two cornicles that look like tail pipes extending from the rear of their body (Figure 2). This species is completely green with brownish legs. Winged aphids will have the wings folded straight back from their bodies. They cannot be easily confused with any other pest of ginseng. Continue reading

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Spotted wing drosophila and specialty berries

Spotted wing drosophila (SWD) is an invasive vinegar fly that has rapidly spread across much of North America.  First observed in Ontario in 2010 and now widespread in all fruit growing regions of the province, this insect has become quite familiar to most growers of conventional soft skinned fruit, such as cherries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries.  Unfortunately, specialty berries are not immune to this pest.

SWD damage to goji

SWD damage to goji

SWD were isolated from goji and sea buckthorn berries beginning in 2012, but had not yet been detected in Ontario haskap.  In mid-July of this year, spotted wing drosophila were detected in haskap berries left on plants after harvest.  Haskap growers should be aware that their berries can be a host of SWD but likely escapes significant damage because haskap harvest is typically completed before SWD populations peak in late July.  Haskap and other specialty berry growers should be looking for this pest, particularly if later harvests are planned. Continue reading

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Basil Update – Downy Mildew Now Widespread

Over the last few weeks, we have had numerous calls from homeowners and growers wondering why their basil is turning yellow and defoliating.  The reason in most cases is downy mildew.  Basil downy mildew seems to be particularly common this summer, likely due to the rainy weather and the fact that the disease first appeared in the field in mid-July rather than August which has been more typical.

In Ontario, the fungicides cyazofamid (Ranman and Torrent), mandipropamid (Revus) and phosphorous acid (Confine) are registered for control of downy mildew in commercial field basil.   All of these products are preventative, and will have limited effect on the disease once symptoms are widespread in the field.  It is important for growers to also be aware that once leaves are infected with downy mildew, it takes at least a week for symptoms to develop. Consequently, seemingly healthy leaves at harvest may develop symptoms post-harvest. This is not an issue for dried basil, as long as drying occurs as soon as possible after harvest.  Research to date has not identified any organically acceptable products that are effective against this disease, nor are any currently registered in Canada. Continue reading

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