|International Society for Horticultural Science|
Horticulture Research International
Canada, due to its size, has many different climates. In December southern Canada receives 8 hours of daylight while the northern tip receives none. Northern Canada in the winter receives very little solar radiation, therefore temperature differences from North to South are extensive.
The average maximum January temperature at the tip of Ellesmere Island in the north is -28 ?C, that of Windsor, Ontario is -0.7 ?C. The long summer days in northern Canada produce a much smaller difference, with maximum temperatures in July of 6.8 ?C for the north and 27.8 ?C for the south. The annual precipitation ranges from 100 mm in the Arctic to over 1500 mm on the windward side of British Columbia's mountains.
The Northwest Territories have an average temperature of -10 ?C for 6 (or more) months of the year, the northern tundra is permanently frozen approximately a half km deep.
British Columbia's major contrast is between the coast and the interior, but there are also significant variations between valley and upland and between the north and south. The average January mean temperature is 0 ?C at most coastal regions with July recording an average mean temperature of 15 ?C. The interior of British Columbia has an average daily mean January temperature ranging from -10 ?C to -15 ?C while the northeastern plains are a cold -20 ?C or more. The southern interior in the summer records a July average monthly temperature of more than 20 ?C, but farther north on the central interior plateau an average of about 15 ?C. The west facing mountains receive more than 2500 mm of annual precipitation, whereas the east-coast lowland records about 700 to 1000 mm. The western side of the interior mountains accumulate 1000 to 2000 mm annually, of which a large amount is snowfall. The Okanagan Valley receives a mere 250 mm of annual precipitation. The coast records an average of more than 200 frost-free days annually with central Interior Plateau having only 75 to 100 frost-free days. British Columbia holds the following Canadian climate records: highest yearly average temperature (Vancouver 9.9 ?C), longest annual frost free period (Vancouver 233 days) and least annual average snowfall (Victoria 47 cm). The mild weather provided by the warm ocean current brings rain. An average 6.6 m of rain falls annually at Henderson Lake.
Prairie Provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba)
Alberta experiences cold winters and fairly short, cool summers. Precipitation is low with annual readings of 300 mm in the southeast to 400-450 mm in the north. Annual hours of sunshine from 1900 in the north and 2300 in the south make Alberta Canada's sunniest province. Alberta records January mean temperatures of -8 ?C in the south to -24 ?C in the north and July mean temperatures ranging from 20 ?C in the south to 16 ?C in the north. The climate of Saskatchewan ranges from cold and snowy with brief summers in the north to a moderate climate to semi-arid in the southwest. Temperatures of -50 ?C in January and 35 ?C in July have been recorded, as have January temperatures of well above freezing and July temperatures well below. Annual frost-free days range from 60 to over 100. Manitoba's winters are very cold with moderately warm summers. Nearly two-thirds of Manitoba's annual precipitation falls during the summer months. Frost-free days range from 100-120.
Central Canada (Ontario, Quebec)
In the north, near Hudson Bay, the mean daily temperature ranges from 15 ?C in July to -25 ?C in January. Southwestern Ontario records mean daily temperatures of -6 ?C in January and 22 ?C in July. The meeting of cold, dry air from the north and west with the warm, humid currents from the south causes a great deal of snow to fall in the winter months. In summer, humidity and heavy rain take the place of snow.
Atlantic Provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador)
This region enjoys a relatively temperate climate, although not as mild as the west coast. There is a relatively high snowfall and adequate summer rainfall. New Brunswick's northwest region receives more than one-third of its precipitation as snow. The coastal region is several degrees warmer with only 15 to 20% of annual precipitation being snow. The average frost-free period ranges from about 100 days in the northwest to 170 along the Fundy coast. Average January temperature in Nova Scotia is about -4 ?C with the summer mean temperatures in the high teens Celsius. The coastal areas are milder and wetter than the interior. Nova Scotia averages 160 frost-free days along the coast and 100 in parts of the interior. Prince Edward Island's winters are long but mild with an average mean temperature of -7 ?C in January and 18 ?C in July. The annual precipitation averages 1120 mm. Winter in Newfoundland is very cold with mean temperatures averaging -20 ?C, and summers are cool with a July mean temperature of 5-10 ?C. Precipitation is low with an annual average of 460 mm, of which 50% falls as snow. Labrador's mean temperatures in January are -18 ?C to -23 ?C with July recording mean temperatures of 13 ?C to 17 ?C. Newfoundland receives the most fog, freezing rain and wind of any Canadian province. Argentia, on the southwest coast of Newfoundland averages 206 foggy days per year.
Canada spans 5,500 km from west (Yukon-Alaska border) to east (Cape Spear, Newfoundland) and 4,600 km from north (Ellesmere Island in the High Arctic) to south (Middle Island in Lake Erie) for a total of 10 million km2.
The Northwest Territories have little potential for farming since most of the soil was scraped away during the ice age leaving a sheet of rock covering more than half of this region. The southern portion also houses low-lying swamps, countless lakes and forests of fir, pine, spruce, cedar, tamarack, birch and aspen. The northern portion is a vast plain of mosses, lichens and hardy dwarf willows.
The Rocky mountains, with their picturesque high, sharp, snow-covered peaks, stretch along the eastern edge of British Columbia. The Coast Range extends the entire Pacific coast and is 160 km wide. Between the Rocky mountains and the Coast Range, cut by rivers, is a belt of low mountains, rolling hills and plateaus. The former beds of glacial lakes produced the flat plains.
Prairie Provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba)
The Rocky Mountains form the southern portion of Alberta's western boundary with British Columbia. Southern Alberta's prairie region consists of dry, mostly treeless, gently rolling grassland. The parkland region of central Alberta varies from the flatland of old lake bottoms to rolling landscape with numerous lakes and depressions. In the boreal-forest region, covering the northern half of the province, great rivers and lakes abound the landscape. Saskatchewan measures 1,225 km long, 630 km wide across the south and 445 km across the north for a total area of 651,900 km². Covering the northern third of Saskatchewan is the Precambrian Shield characterized by rugged rock exposures and many lakes. South of the Shield is an area of level or gently rolling plains. To the west and across the southwest corner is another plain region of rolling and hilly terrain distinct from that of the north. In the extreme southwest is the Cypress Hills, the highest point of land in Canada east of the Rocky Mountains. Saskatchewan's landscape consists of undulating slopes, unlike the flat horizons often associated with the prairies. Manitoba's minor terrain features were formed during the close of the last ice age. The shield rocks were severely eroded, leaving a marshy surface with numerous lakes, streams and bogs.
Central Canada (Ontario, Quebec)
Central Canada stretches 1,000 km west (shores of Lake Huron) to east (Quebec City). Roughly one-fifth of Ontario's total area is occupied by lakes and rivers. Much of the soil scraped from the Northwest Territories during the ice age settled here resulting in one of Canada's most favourable belts of agriculture land.
Atlantic Provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador)
The Atlantic region, excluding Labrador, measures 1,300 km from east to west, and 900 km from south to north. Newfoundland is physically divided into two units of area, the larger unit being the mainland of Labrador in the north and the smaller unit being the island of Newfoundland. Labrador's northern coast is ruggedly mountainous and deeply fjorded, the southern coastal region is rugged, barren foreshore and forested hinterland. The vast interior is a well-forested, dissected plateau. The rain, wind and glaciers have worn Newfoundland's interior mountainous area down to rolling hills from 150 to 800 m high. These highlands have poor soil and rough terrain. The lowlands, however, are good for farming. Prince Edward Island has an area of only 5,660 km2. The western region of the island is fairly level and becomes hilly as you travel east. Nova Scotia has a serrated, 10,427 km shoreline. The southern and central part of the province is marked by many inlets, islands, coves and bays. The North Mountain runs parallel to the South Mountain for 190 km along the Bay of Fundy. Between the mountains is the fertile valley of the Annapolis and Cornwallis rivers. Its southern border constitutes the South Mountain. Northern Cape Breton Island is a wild, wooded plateau, which rises to a height of more than 520 m above sea level. In contrast, the southern part of Cape Breton is largely lowland. New Brunswick's northern uplands rise to 820 m and are mountainous in appearance, the central and eastern area display gently rolling hills while the southern coast's sharp hills slope down to tidal marshes and a lowland plain in the southeast.
The potato is the most important vegetable crop in Canada, accounting for about 60% of all vegetable farm cash receipts or $608 million in 1998. Farm cash receipts rose by 17% in 1998 due to increased production and slightly improved prices. Canadian production at 4 million tonnes was concentrated in PEI (31%), Manitoba (19%), and New Brunswick (16%) and Alberta , Québec, Ontario all about 10%. In 1998, 158,900 ha were planted, a new record, and yields averaged 27.5 tonnes ha-1. Cultivars of potatoes vary from province to province with Russet Burbank and Shepody being the main frying cultivars; Snowden, Atlantic, Norchip, and Superior the main chipping cultivars; and various Russet types, Superior, Norland, Kennebec and Yukon Gold are some of the leading table cultivars. Over 150 cultivars of seed are grown for sale in Canada by 887 seed potato growers on 34,868 ha. In keeping with historic tendencies, sweet corn and green peas remain the next two most intensively planted vegetable crops in Canada this year. Although these two crops hold their rank as the most prolifically cultivated of the vegetable crops surveyed, their area under cultivation continues to drop. Indications are that the area dedicated to the production of green peas will fall to 15,279 ha this year from the 18,616 ha planted in 1998. This decrease follows a 1% decline in area planted observed between 1997 and 1998. Over the same three-year period, sweet corn area under cultivation has decreased by 5%. Total area being seeded for sweet corn production fell from 34,803 ha in 1997 to 33,184 ha planted in the current year. In contrast, survey results indicate that dry onion area will increase by 17% this year, rising from 4,047 ha to 4,856 ha. Cucumber and gherkin area is also expected to increase by an impressive 10%. An additional 340 ha will be added to the 3,369 ha planted in 1998. The area cultivated for field tomatoes rose by 7.3% to 8,738 ha in 1999, ending four years of decline. In Ontario, which accounts for 89% of planted tomato acreage, processing area remained constant while land reserved for the fresh market rose by 72% to 1,619 ha.
The 73,167 ha under cultivation for blueberry [highbush and lowbush], apple and grape production represents 78% of the total fruit area under cultivation this year. [Lowbush] blueberries are by far the most intensively cultivated fruit crop in Canada, with 36,760 ha being tended. The area dedicated to apple production has fallen continuously over the last five years to a current level of 28,882 ha. Apple area has diminished by an average of 3% in each of the last five years.
The 7,525 ha allocated to grape production represents a modest decrease to the area cultivated last year. Consistent increases in area being cultivated for grape production was witnessed in each of the four previous years. Grapes grown for wine production are by far the most dominant cultivar of grapes being cultivated, representing 77% of the total grape area under cultivation.
Total greenhouse sales continued the annual growth experienced by the industry over the past two decades. In 1998, total sales increased 7.7% to reach $1,189 million. However, the total area used for greenhouse production increased by only 0.2%, to encompass 1,292 ha under glass or plastic. Revenues generated from the sale of flowers and plants increased by 7.3% to $904 million from $834 million in 1997. Ontario continues to account for the largest proportion of these sales at 51.7% followed by British Columbia with 22.7% and Quebec with 11.8%. Sales to wholesalers and those direct to the public continued to be the preferred channel for marketing flowers and plants, representing 25.4% and 21.4% respectively of total flower and plant sales.
For the first time in several years, sales of greenhouse vegetables declined slightly in proportion to the sales of flowers and plants. In 1997, sales of greenhouse vegetables accounted for 24.5% of the total greenhouse sales, however, in 1998 the vegetable share of total greenhouse sales decreased to 24.0%. Interestingly, the production of vegetable bedding plants for sale has increased dramatically by 37.2% from 254 million plants in 1997 to 348 million plant in 1998.
Distribution of Horticulture
The coastal region of British Columbia is the mildest production area. The mid-Fraser Valley is one of the world's most favourable areas for raspberry production. Blueberries (highbush) and cranberries are grown in the delta region, as well as vegetable crops. Most of British Columbia is very mountainous with less than 5% arable land. In the interior the mountain valleys are suited to fruit production.
The principal fruit is the apple or crabapple. Amelanchier is a popular wild shrub that is now being grown domestically for its berry-like fruits. Some wild Prunus species, such as chokecherry are also of interest for the processing industry. Strawberries do well where there is adequate snow cover. Vegetable crops must be suited to the relatively short growing season, 110 to 125 frost-free days. Such crops as sweet corn and tomatoes require the earliest cultivars. Most horticultural crops require supplementary irrigation, especially in the southwestern Prairies.
Southern Ontario is an important horticultural area in Canada. The Niagara Peninsula region is well-suited for the production of peaches, cherries, grapes and other tender fruit. The extreme southwestern part of Ontario is especially suited for vegetable crops including processing tomatoes and sweet corn. Limited deposits of organic soils are used for fresh vegetable production, especially carrots, lettuce, celery and radishes.
Southern Quebec is also a suitable horticultural area, though the only tree fruit that will survive is the apple. Processing vegetables are important in Quebec, especially peas, beans, corn and some tomatoes. The province is the major Canadian producer of canned green and wax beans. This area is the site of major organic soil deposits and such vegetables as lettuce, carrots and cole crops are important.
Small fruits are important, especially strawberries with a number of cultivars being developed in Kentville, NS. Blueberries are principally in "managed" plantations of the wild lowbush blueberry. Potato production takes place in most regions of Canada, but here in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, there is an extensive processing industry with emphasis on frozen "french fries" and seed potatoes. Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley is famous for its fruit and vegetable production, particularly apples.
The focus is on research of national significance that is valuable to the country by developing and transferring new technology to improve the on-going competitiveness of Canadian horticulture. The research creates new scientific knowledge and contributes to the quality of life by supporting competitiveness through reducing the cost of producing and processing food and non-food products, improving the quality and safety of food products, advancing environmental practices that sustain horticulture production in the long term and transferring technology. Farmers, food processors, agri-businesses, consumers, consultants, federal departments, provincial departments and universities use the concepts, data, products and processes developed.
Nature of Institutes
Eight universities undertake teaching and research in horticulture across Canada. There is one in each of the five western provinces, three in Quebec and one in the Atlantic province of Nova Scotia. Post graduate training to the Master's and Doctorate level is available at eight and seven of these universities respectively. Laval University, offering post-graduate training in horticulture, is the only French-speaking institution.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
The Research Branch of the federal Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is the largest research organisation in Canada with 18 centres of excellence across the country, 12 which conduct horticulture research. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada also undertakes horticultural research at the Sidney Centre for Plant Health in British Columbia as well as The Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration in Saskatchewan.
The provinces of Alberta, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia undertake horticultural research in response to regional needs. The main Centre for provincial horticultural research in Ontario is the University of Guelph, Department of Plant Agriculture. Although the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food supports research at two establishments in the province, almost all research activities have been privatized with most of the research scientists in horticulture being transferred to IRDA (Institut de Recherche et de Developpement en Agroenvironnement), a private corporation.
Private and Commercial Institutions
A few private and commercial institutions and botanical gardens conduct independent horticultural research for specific purposes in such fields as ornamental displays and nursery stocks, fruit and vegetable crops for processing and chemicals for pest control. In addition, a small number of amateur and professional horticulturists conduct specialized breeding work with certain ornamental, vegetable and fruit species.
The Agricultural Institute of Canada is a professional organisation engaged in all aspects of agriculture in Canada. Affiliated with it is the Canadian Society for Horticultural Science (CSHS). The CSHS is a society of professional horticulturists which exists to promote and foster the science of horticulture in Canada. The present membership is about 200. Annual and regional meetings are held each year. Horticultural research findings and technical information are published in a wide variety of scientific journals and trade magazines.
Organisations / Institutes:
Niagara Parks Commission - School of Horticulture
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Research Branch
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration
University of British Columbia
University of Alberta
University of Saskatchewan
University of Manitoba
University of Guelph, Ontario Agricultural College
University of Laval
University of Montreal
Nova Scotia Agriculture College
Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
Quebec Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ)
New Brunswick Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
Institute of Research and Development in Agroenvironment