Kelowna, BC – The Okanagan Plant Improvement Corporation is receiving up to $2.3 million from the federal government to enhance and accelerate the commercialization of new high-quality varieties of apples and sweet cherries.
The funding will support the development of new varieties, tree fruit breeding and refining horticultural practices.
The majority of fruit grown in Canada comes from British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. Through the intermediary of the Réseau d’essais de cultivars et de porte-greffes de pommiers (RECUPOM), Quebec will also contribute $140,000 to the project, $80,000 of which will come from the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ). The RECUPOM brings together many players of Quebec’s apple growing sector, namely those affiliated with the Federation of Quebec Apple Growers, MAPAQ, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, technical support clubs and various Quebec businesses.
“This exciting collaborative partnership with the Canadian government will build on the long-standing and successful relationship that our company has enjoyed in representing the tree fruit breeding programs in Canada,” said John Kingsmill, CEO of Okanagan Plant Improvement Corporation. “With this project PICO enters into a new phase that will benefit Canadian growers and consumers alike by enabling us to better manage the development, selection, testing, evaluation and uptake of new high quality apple and cherry varieties.”
Canada is a leader in developing and bringing new tree fruit varieties to market. In 2008, apple and sweet cherry varieties accounted for 77% of the farm gate value of tree fruits grown in Canada, with sweet cherry production valued at $25 million and the farm gate value of apples at $178 million.