Lavender Crop Update – June 23, 2017

The first lavender cultivars are close to bloom in some areas and the harvest season will begin shortly (Fig. 1). For bundles and buds, it is best to harvest near the time the first buds begin to open. This is when the buds have reached full colour but before dead petals begin to appear on the flower clusters. For oil production, harvest should wait until at least peak bloom. From then on, oil quality will very gradually decline, although many growers harvest several weeks after peak bloom to extend the agri-tourism season, and still have good quality oil.

Figure 1. ‘Hidcote’ and other earlier blooming lavender cultivars are at full bud and ready to bloom in many areas. Bloom usually last about 4 weeks per cultivar depending on the weather, with peak appearance in the first 2 weeks of that period.

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Ginseng Crop Update – June 23, 2017

While the amount of rainfall has been highly variable across the ginseng growing area, all areas have received periodic showers this week that has resulted in long periods of leaf wetness. Foliar Phytophthora is still active in several farms and this wet weather will continue to allow for spread of the disease. Downpours will then result in new areas of root infection. Continue reading

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Summer/Fall Student Position Available at the Simcoe Research Station

Job Ad:     Student – Horticulture Assistant
Organization: Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
Division/Branch: Economic Development Division / Agriculture Development Branch
Position Title: Student – Summer Research Assistant
Job Term: Temporary (1 position) for up to 18 weeks
Location:  OMAFRA Simcoe Resource Centre, Simcoe, Ontario (Norfolk County, on the north shore of Lake Erie, 2 hours southwest of Toronto)
Salary: $12.25 / hour, based on a 36.25 hour work week

Are you serious about making your mark, getting hands-on work experience and learning more about careers in the Ontario Public Service?  This position at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ Simcoe Resource Centre will provide an excellent opportunity for those interested in a career in horticulture production, research or the agricultural service sector. This position will provide the opportunity to learn about diseases, insects, and agronomy of the specialty crops grown in the province.


  • Assist with summer/fall research and demonstration projects conducted by Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) Specialty Crops Staff.
  • Activities will include the maintenance (weeding etc.) and harvest of research plots focused on production practices, pest management, fertility, new crop development etc., collection/entering of data and preparation of written reports. Training will be provided on research methods, technology transfer, and working in the public sector
  • Collecting, archiving and organizing digital photos of key growth stages and major pests of specialty crops such as tree fruit, hops, lavender, ginseng, sweet potatoes and industrial crops
  • Field work may include farm tours, field scouting, identification and monitoring of insects, weeds and crop diseases.
  • Assist staff with the collection and analysis of on-farm samples and data for research projects.
  • Assist staff to conduct literature reviews and develop written reports and presentation materials on key initiatives and industry issues.
  • Assist in the coordination of events and programs (e.g. workshops, demonstrations, field days etc.) working with key stakeholders and clients in delivery of programs and information.
  • Office work may include assisting with the production of technical information such as newsletters, updating web pages, blogs, scanning images, etc.

Please review the qualifications for this position. What we are looking for: 

  • You apply your interpersonal skills to work within a multi-disciplinary team
  • You apply your observational skills and attention to detail to conduct research, field monitoring and data entry
  • You apply your written communication skills to prepare a variety of documents (e.g. reports, factsheets, and articles).
  • You are familiar with computer based software applications including MS Word, MS Excel and database management software to perform data entry, conduct analysis, prepare reports, track and compile information
  • You can work in an outdoor environment with physical activity involved
  • You work independently or as part of a team; you plan, organize and prioritize your work to meet competing deadlines
  • You are familiar with farming and crop production
  • You are willing to travel to rural locations (frequently not accessible by public transportation)
  • You must have a minimum Ontario G2 Driver’s Licence

How to Apply:

  • You must demonstrate how you meet the eligibility criteria, skills and experience we are looking for clearly, completely and concisely. We rely on the information you provide to us.
  • You must be a resident of Ontario on the first day of employment.
  • You must be legally entitled to work in Canada.
  • You must be between 15-24 years of age (up to 29 with disability) on the first day of employment.
  • You must be currently enrolled in a secondary or post-secondary school, or have completed all academic requirements for graduation within 6 months of first day of employment (approx. mid-July 2017).
  • You must provide your cover letter and resume electronically in one file to in any of the following formats: PDF, WORD, plain or rich-text format (.pdf, .doc, .docx, .txt and .rtf).  Or you could provide your cover letter and resume on paper to:

Jacquie De Fields
Simcoe Resource Centre
1283 Blueline Road,
Box 587 Simcoe, Ontario N3Y 4N5
Tel: 519-426-7122
Fax: 519-428-1142

You should receive confirmation within 2 business days if your application was received. If you do not receive a confirmation in that time, please call Jacquie De Fields.

If you have a disability and require accommodation to apply please contact

Posting Date: June 23, 2017
Closing Date: July 7, 2017

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

An Overview of Haskap Cultivar Characteristics

Indigo Gem Simcoe 2

In 2007 the first University of Saskatchewan (USask) haskap (Lonicera caerulea) cultivars were released.  Since then, this specialty berry (also known as honeyberry or edible blue honeysuckle) has been of interest by commercial growers and home gardeners alike.

Below is an overview of general characteristics of the source material used in various breeding programs followed by production vs. pollinizer cultivar recommendations that may assist growers in selecting appropriate cultivars  for their operation. Continue reading

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Patience Pays for Haskap Flavour

Indigo Treat - Simcoe

Haskap harvest is underway in Ontario.  For new growers of the crop, a reminder that berry colour is a poor indicator of berry ripeness in this crop.  Being patient and waiting to harvest the crop will pay dividends in flavour…and hopefully returning customers.

In southern Ontario, the ‘Indigo’ series haskaps are showing signs of readiness with a sweet tangy flavour in the majority of fruit. ‘Tundra’s’ ripeness is variable at this point but the most mature berries are ready for picking.  If ripening continues at the current rate, ‘Tundra’ harvest will be fully underway next week. ‘Borealis’ is the latest of the cultivars sampled this year, and still requires time for flavour development.

I have not come across anyone growing ‘Honeybee’, ‘Aurora’,  ‘Boreal Blizzard’, ‘Boreal Beauty’ or any non-University of Saskatchewan cultivars.  If you have information on how the season is progressing with any these cultivars, please comment below.

A current topic of discussion is the trade-off between dropped fruit (lost fruit) and flavour development.  In other words, is it worth it to wait for full flavour development in haskap berries if it means losing the earliest fruit due to heavy wind or rain knocking them off the plants.  In most situations I would suggest that marketability (flavour) should  take priority over some yield loss.  That said, the end use of the particular berries may be a determining factor on the decision to harvest early or not.  For example, if early harvested berries will be used for processing with other ingredients, less ripe berries may not be an issue.  However, if the berries will be consumed fresh, customers will most likely be expecting sweet or tangy fruit flavour and may take offence to the tartness or bitterness of haskap berries that have been harvested too early.

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Lavender Crop Update – June 9, 2017

Finally it is warming up and lavender should progress very quickly over the next week. The earliest cultivars are starting to show bud colour (Fig. 1), which suggests the beginning of bloom is about 2 weeks away. It is looking like bloom will be slightly later than normal this year, despite the early start to spring.

Figure 1. Folgate lavender buds are beginning to turn purple as of June 9 in Norfolk County.

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Ginseng Crop Update – June 8, 2017

Over the past week there have been confirmations of both foliar and root Phytophthora, Alternaria on stems and leaves, active grub feeding, leafrollers, and slugs. Many of these issues are not too surprising for this time of year. Foliar Phytophthora is the most concerning of these considering the rapid spread of the disease this can cause. Foliar Phytophthora was found in an area with no root infection, which suggests it was spread on the wind at least a week ago. This can be a source of new root infections in areas that you wouldn’t normally expect disease. Drier weather will limit further spread of the disease, but protection is necessary to stop disease development where it is already active. Continue reading

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