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prunings T

he B.C. Ministry of Agriculture reports that agrifood exports from the province grew by 11

percent in 2014, reaching the highest total ever, just short of $3 billion. The top three export markets for

B.C. agriculture and seafood products in 2014 were: •United States— $2.04 billion (up 12 percent from $1.8 billion).

• China — $264 million (up 16 percent from $228 million).

• Japan — $199 million (up 17 percent from $170 million). B.C. exported about $453 million worth of products elsewhere, resulting in total agrifood exports of $2.96 billion to 150 countries. Seafood exports rose 10 percent to $981 million, with salmon and crabs the top products. Food preparations for manufacturing ($235 million), blueberries ($169 million) and baked goods ($122 million) led agriculture exports, which rose 12 percent to $2 billion...

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada predicts farm incomes will continue high in the year ahead. Its latest Agricultural Outlook report points to a strong future for the agricultural sector. The report says increasing demand, which has strengthened prices for some berry crops, plus higher prices for other major commodities, will continue to sustain the agricultural economy in 2015. Average net worth per farm is expected to set records of $2.1 million this year. For 2015, preliminary forecasts suggest that overall farm incomes will remain historically high, at an estimated $13 billion. The exceptional market incomes over the past several years have contributed to lower program payments.

“The future for Canadian agriculture remains positive,” says federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz. His remarks included a reference to strengthening agriculture research and development, something the berry industries in B.C. are already doing... A dispute over intellectual property that dated back to October 2013 has been settled between the California Strawberry Commission and the University of California at Davis. The commission has channeled millions of dollars to the university’s strawberry research program, which supplies half

of the world’s strawberry varieties. U- C Davis has hired a plant geneticist, Steven Knapp, to lead the strawberry breeding program. During the next five years, U-C Davis will release new varieties to all farmers and start identifying new ones. As part of the legal settlement, a strawberry advisory committee will be formed, comprising university

representatives, strawberry growers, and commission representatives... Meanwhile, still with new varieties and still south of the line, two new berries have been developed at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS)

Horticultural Crops Research Unit in Corvallis, OR. Sweet Sunrise is a

comparable to Totem for commercial processors. “Sweet Sunrise was selected in 2000 from a cross made in 1998 between Puget Reliance and B 754,” Finn explains. “Puget Reliance is a standard in the Pacific Northwest, especially for the fresh-market strawberry industry, because it is high yielding, large fruited, and well

adapted to the region's climate and disease complexes.” Finn has also developed Columbia Star (U.S. patent applied for), a thornless, trailing


Harvested Sweet Sunrise, a high-yield, June-bearing cultivar developed by the Oregon State University breeding program at Corvallis.

strawberry cultivar from the Corvallis breeding program, led by plant geneticist Chad Finn. It was released in cooperation with the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station (OAES) and Washington State University's Agricultural Research Center. According to Finn, Sweet Sunrise was high yielding in every trial and location. Yields were comparable to, or higher than, those of other recent releases such as Charm, Valley Red, and Sweet Bliss or the industry standards Tillamook, Totem, and Hood. In all evaluations, Sweet Sunrise was rated excellent and

blackberry cultivar from the same breeding program as Sweet Sunrise. Columbia Star was released in 2013 in


with OAES. The new blackberry is a very high-quality, high-yielding, machine-harvestable blackberry with firm, sweet fruit that, when processed, is similar in quality to or better than fruit from the industry standards Marion and Black Diamond. Columbia Star can be adapted to areas where other trailing blackberries can be grown successfully. “Columbia Star's background is extremely diverse,” says Finn. Marion accounts for 20 percent of its pedigree. The two immediate parents represented elite selections from New Zealand and the Oregon breeding programs...

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22 British Columbia Berry Grower • Summer 2015

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