Oleen Smethurst, Costco Wholesale Canada, visits with grape grower John Thwaites, (L) and Mike Ecker, Vineland Growers’ Cooperative at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

It’s not too early to mark 2019 calendars. Canada Agriculture Day is February 12. Oleen Smethurst, assistant vice-president for produce procurement at Costco, is one of the headline speakers. 

The Ontario Potato Board held its annual general meeting on December 5. It represents 130 growers of 34,000 acres. The new 2019 chair is Shawn Brenn, Brenn-B Farms, Waterdown, Ontario. 

(L-R) Alex and Jordan McKay, Willowtree Farms, Port Perry, Ontario and Jinel and Craig Ference, Double F Farms, Kirriemuir, Alberta are the 2018 Outstanding Young Farmers for Canada.

This year’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ national recognition event culminated with awards on November 30 in Winnipeg.  Fruit and vegetable growers. brothers Alex and Jordan McKay, were honoured for their diversification at Willowtree Farms, Port Perry. Ontario. Jinel and Craig Ference, Double F Farms, Kirriemuir, Alberta got the Western Canadian nod for cropping 10,000 acres, managing an8,000-head feedlot and overseeing 4,000 mother cows. 

Retiring Ken Linington is surrounded by appreciative growers. L-R: Barb Hipple, Brett Schuyler, Ken Linington, Kai Wiens, Kyle Ardiel

Last day in a long career was November 30, 2018 for Ken Linington, policy advisor for Labour Issues Coordinating Committee. True to form, he attended a seminar “Labour Resources for Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers” on his second-last day and shared his extensive experience with growers. 

Carl Atkinson, research committee chair, Ontario Ginseng Growers’ Association.

Ontario’s ginseng crop earns a surprising $250 million in farmgate receipts. At this time of year, the sand-plains growers are receiving bids from Hong Kong buyers who are assessing volume and quality. One of those growers is Carl Atkinson, chair of the research committee of the Ontario Ginseng Growers’ Association. He’s looking forward to solving the soil health issue of replant disease that may temper the long-term future.  

For the second time in a year, romaine lettuce is the target of a public health investigation as consumers in both the U.S. and Canada have been sickened by E.coli.  Public health officials are conducting an exhaustive traceback through the entire growing, packing and distribution system focusing on California. 

Kristen Obeid

Fortunately for horticulture, Kristen Obeid is OMAFRA’s weed management specialist based in Harrow, Ontario. The Canadian Weed Science Society has honoured her with the 2018 Excellence in Weed Extension Award. 

A record number of delegates – 413 – attended the recent annual general meeting of the Potato Growers of Alberta. Despite a wintry September, they were celebrating end of harvest.