The Canadian and Nova Scotia governments have announced up to $2.69 million to fruit tree growers under the Agri-Recovery program. The initiative will help apple and pear growers recoup the costs from managing a severe outbreak of fire blight after tropical storm Arthur in 2014. The industry estimates about 100,000 trees were lost. The five-year plan covers 60 per cent of the cost with Nova Scotia’s government partnering for the remainder.
All pome fruit growers fear fire blight. About 95 per cent of the Nova Scotia orchards were affected after the 2014 storm. The disease results in the loss of tree branches and tree structure. If severe, the bacterial disease can move into the trunk, infect rootstock and kill entire trees.
The news was timely on the eve of the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers’ Association (NSFGA) annual general meeting, January 27, where 200 attended. “We are very pleased with the announcement and look forward to seeing the details, said Andrew Parker, NSFGA president. “The industry is excited about where we are going, especially with the export market of Honeycrisp apples to the United States. Our December storage holdings show we have the highest volume of Honeycrisp apples on record.”
According to Agriculture Canada’s Infohort website (infohort.agr.gc.ca), the Maritimes had storage of more than 10 million pounds of Honeycrisp as of December 2015. This is the first time that the Honeycrisp variety has tallied more holdings than McIntosh.
The Canada-Nova Scotia Fire Blight Initiative will help bring fire blight under control and minimize the potential for damage in the future. Farm cash receipts in Nova Scotia for the tree fruit industry are close to $16 million annually.