Asparagus Development Program Gets $1 Million from Farmers, Government

February 04, 2014 - News Release

More than $1 million will be invested by farmers and the federal government into the University of Guelph’s long-standing asparagus breeding program to develop improved cultivars.

The program, led by Prof. David Wolyn of the Department of Plant Agriculture, is credited with having developed one of the University’s most successful plant varieties, Guelph Millennium. The Asparagus Farmers of Ontario will contribute $512,700 to the program for further cultivar development, with matching funds provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) through its Growing Forward 2’s AgriInnovation Program.

”This funding is critical to bring our promising experimental hybrids to commercialization and further develop even better cultivars to help the industry in the future,” said Wolyn. “It also allows us to conduct research projects in tissue culture, seed production and winter hardiness that support and enhance the breeding effort.”

With increased demand for local Ontario asparagus, and proximity to large markets in the eastern United States, these new seed varieties will help to meet the needs of an expanding industry, lower production costs, and boost competitiveness in the region and beyond. The breeding program seeks to develop hybrids adapted not only to Ontario but to other provinces as well.

“Asparagus is an extremely important crop for us in southwestern Ontario, and this investment will help increase our competitiveness both here in Canada and abroad,” said Diane Finley, MP for Haldimand-Norfolk, minister responsible for Southwestern Ontario, and minister of public works and government services.

Bernie Solymar, executive director of the Asparagus Farmers of Ontario, said the partnership between asparagus farmers and U of G has been long-standing and productive.

“We have supported Dr. Wolyn’s asparagus breeding program for almost two decades, and the industry has benefited greatly from the release of Millennium, a superior cold-weather variety,” he said. “The funding announced through AAFC’s AgriInnovation investment will allow the breeding program to continue to support a competitive Ontario asparagus industry into the future.”

Rob Gordon, dean of the Ontario Agricultural College, said, “We are extremely proud of the leadership role that Professor Wolyn plays in supporting Ontario’s valuable asparagus industry. We are also committed to continue this role and believe that this funding will help to support new innovations for the industry in the future.”

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or; or Kevin Gonsalves, Ext. 56982, or

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