FROM THE EDITOR: May 2006

January 29, 2008
Written by
If it were a stock listed on the exchange, Flowers Canada (Ontario) would be one of the hottest properties available. People would be lining up to invest. It’s a leader in R&D, has excellent relations with governments at all levels, and has earned the respect of regulatory departments on both sides of the border. It has helped develop forward-thinking human resources strategies, and has a number of market development initiatives to its credit. What it needs are more ‘investors.’

If it were a stock listed on the exchange, Flowers Canada (Ontario) would be one of the hottest properties available. People would be lining up to invest.

It’s a leader in R&D, has excellent relations with governments at all levels, and has earned the respect of regulatory departments on both sides of the border. It has helped develop forward-thinking human resources strategies, and has a number of market development initiatives to its credit.

The ‘investment’ FCO needs is through increased membership. The association has embarked on a major recruitment campaign. It is seeking designation under Section 12 of the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Act. It has to prove to the Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs that it has the support of the industry. Once approved, it would have stable funding in place to support its many programs.

Agricultural groups have to constantly remind politicians of their needs. Those most organized seem to have no trouble talking to cabinet ministers. Flower growers are about the only agriculture sector in the province not yet recognized under Section 12. FCO membership is currently voluntary. Members are bearing the financial load of financing FCO efforts, most of which benefit the industry as a whole.

One striking example of the effectiveness of FCO is its research program. It is currently involved with 21 projects with a total investment from all sources of $3.1 million. Every dollar of grower levy translates into about $10 – in some cases more than that – of key research. There aren’t too many stocks boasting a similar rate of return.

Pascale Harster, of Harster Greenhouses near Hamilton, is chairperson of the FCO research committee.“We are building a vision, a road map of where we want to stand in a couple of years, and of the scope of research we intend to undertake that will benefit the whole floriculture industry,” she said during this year’s research symposium.  Growers have to reinforce links with the scientific community “to identify our goals and strategic priorities.”  Research, she noted, will lead to improved products, more efficiency and lower production costs.

Those attending the symposium, an annual event open to growers, were treated to a broad sampling of leading edge research. A sampling of projects included:

•    The relationship between high temperatures, plant growth regulators and photoperiod on the flowering of potted chrysanthemums.

•    Lighting studies with campanula.

•    Improved rooting of chrysanthemums.

•    Year-round production of ornamentals via screening for energy-efficient cultivars.

•     An update on minor uses pesticide tools.

•     Endophyte technology for enhanced vigour, fitness and productivity of greenhouse flowers.

•    An evaluation of the parasitic nematode Steinernema feltiae for the control of western flower thrips.

•    Optimal nutrient solution concentrations for miniature rose crops.

•    The use of aqueous ozone to dramatically extend the shelf life of cut roses.

•    Bedding plant evaluations for the Ontario market.

•    Developing new floriculture crops using native Canadian species.

If you’re not already a member, visit their website (www.flowerscanadagrowers.com) or call for more information (800-698-0113 or 519-836-5495).

FCO membership is an investment in the industry. It makes your work easier, by having a strong association working on your behalf. It clears hurdles, anticipates problems and opens doors. The dividends are as many as they are constant.

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