Feds pledge $218K for Atlantic apple varieties

The federal government is putting up funds for a four-year project to develop new apple varieties for Atlantic Canada.

Under the project, backed by Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food (ACAAF), staff at the Atlantic Food and Horticulture Research Centre in Kentville, N.S., and growers at test sites across the Maritimes will plant or graft 30 to 50 existing international apple varieties onto existing trees.

The resulting apples will then be evaluated on their taste, yield and their hardiness to weather, insects, disease and storage.

The Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Association will be the lead on the four-year project, partnering with the agricultural consulting company AgraPoint and the Nova Scotia apple producer co-operative, Scotian Gold.

Ottawa’s investment will be $218,000, flowed through the Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food (ACAAF) program.

“Before planting new apple cultivars it is important that they be evaluated for growth and production potential in the region,” NSFGA president Brian Boates said Thursday in the government’s release. “Cultivar evaluation is very important to the future progress of this industry.”

The Maritime provinces yield almost 11 per cent of Canada’s apple production, primarily in Nova Scotia. The Maritime provinces produced over 45,000 tonnes of apples in 2007, for a farm gate value of nearly $14 million.

“Nova Scotia’s apple industry has been a mainstay of the agricultural sector since the early settlers arrived and it continues to contribute significantly to our provincial economy,” Nova Scotia Agriculture Minister Mark Parent said in the federal government’s release.

“One way to ensure that the industry remains competitive is through the identification and development of new apple varieties for consumers and markets.”

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