Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

August 16, 2006

U of G's Vineland Research Station Celebrates 100 Years

The University of Guelph’s Vineland research station, which has provided the world with more than 150 new varieties of fruits, vegetables and ornamental plants, is holding an open house to celebrate its 100th anniversary August 26.

The event begins at 2 p.m. at 4890 Victoria Avenue North, Vineland Station, located just off the QEW at exit 57 between Grimsby and St. Catharines.

“If it wasn’t for the Vineland research station, we wouldn’t have a tender fruit industry today,” said Ray Kaczmarski, manager of the research station. Vineland developed and released 77 varieties of peaches, apricots, cherries and plums.

About 70 per cent of the peaches grown in the Niagara Peninsula can trace their ancestry back to the station, added plant agriculture professor Jay Subramanian. “There’s no other research centre that has come up with so many varieties of perennial fruits in 100 years. Those varieties have made a significant contribution to growers.”

This year, the station will release two peach cultivars and three plums. Subramanian said he has recently received calls from European growers looking for new varieties. His goal is to lengthen the harvest season. Normally trees imported from elsewhere yield fruit from early August to mid-September, but that's no longer good enough for retailers looking for fresh peaches from late July through October.

“For growers to run continuously and to make decent money, they want varieties that fit in different time slots,” he said. “The challenge for the breeding program here is to find varieties to stretch the window. That's our main job.”

Besides fruit varieties, the station has released cultivars of vegetables, including sweet corn, English (seedless) cucumber, sweet pepper and tomato. Vineland introductions of mould-resistant greenhouse tomatoes constituted 90 per cent of the fall crop in Ontario and British Columbia in the 1950s. These tomato lines have been extensively used as breeding material in Western Europe and the United States.

U of G’s Vineland research station has also played a major role in Ontario’s wine industry. The grape research program produced the widely-used microclimate zone map, which outlines frost and cold risk areas throughout the Niagara Peninsula.

Vineland is also home to the only commercial mushroom research facility in the country. The station developed management approaches for combating green mould, a fungal disease that once threatened to wipe out Ontario’s $161 million mushroom industry.

Open house highlights will include self-guided walking tours of the heritage apple orchard and heritage vegetable, flower and fruit gardens, historical displays, a formal ceremony including local, provincial and federal government dignitaries, and celebratory cake. For more information, go online or contact Danny Rinker 905 562-4141, Ext. 132 or Deborah Hilborn 905 562-4141, Ext. 124.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt 519 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rebecca Kendall, Ext. 56039.

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