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									Nov. Dec., 2006                  Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development
Nov. Dec., 2006
Volume 5, Issue 6
Volume 5, Issue 6

     The Greenhouse Business
                                                      M. Mirza

  Like any other business, end of the year is the time to    Here is the list of projects:
  analyze, reflect and plan for the future. Planning for
  the future is always hard and difficult to predict. Just   ♦   Fusarium root and stem rot of cucumbers. Three years
  look at the case where I was expecting that some               of research completed and information made available
  growers would achieve very high cucumber and to-               to growers.
  mato yields. By late August, my prediction was that a      ♦   Internal Fruit Rot of Peppers. It is the third year of
  few cucumber growers would hit over 170 cucum-                 this research and we have found that it is very likely
  bers per sq.m., and then one week of cloudy weather,           seed born and bumblebees are spreading it in the
  production dropped, and diseases like Fusarium and             greenhouse. Don’t blame bumblebees for this. They
  Botrytis came in, and production was most likely go-           just visit the flowers and collect the pollen and collect
  ing to be around 150 cucumbers. Isn’t it interesting           Fusarium spores as well. Check out a progress report
  that cucumber fruit filling is more sensitive to low           on this research in this issue of the newsletter.
  light, and tomatoes are not that sensitive? So, to-
                                                             ♦   Application of inovapure on disease control of green-
  mato production should be around 60 kg/m2 and I
                                                                 house vegetables and post-harvest fruits. We were in-
  wonder why we have not been able to achieve yields
                                                                 vited to submit a full research proposal after our letter
  around 70-80 kg/m2 as reported by some growers in
                                                                 of intent was accepted. Information from this project
  Europe and B.C.? And there is no single reason for
                                                                 will add another tool for greenhouse crop disease con-
                                                                 trol.                          (Continued on Pg 2)

  In spite of the fact that we have been working with
  diseases for 30 years, they still come in and cause                                What’s In this Issue?

  economic losses. That is why we have to continue               ♦   Alberta Greenhouse Crops Industry 2006      Pg 1-2-3
  doing research with old diseases and any new dis-              ♦   Some Pointers on Handling Seedlings        Pg 4
  eases. Old diseases mean Pyhtium which causes root
  rots, Fusarium which causes wilt, Gummy Stem                   ♦   Highlights from 28th Annual Greenhouse
  Blight and of course, Botrytis. Newer diseases would               Conference                                 Pg 4-10
  be Powdery Mildews. It was interesting to note that            ♦   Internal Fruit Rot of Greenhouse Peppers   Pg 11-16
  we got great support from the Funding Consortium               ♦   Announcements                              Pg 17
  and at this time, following greenhouse related pro-
  jects are being researched. Research data was pre-             ♦   Making Bedding Plant Business more
  sented at the Green Industry Show and Conference                   Profitable Workshop                        Pg 18-19
  in November.
                                                                                                                    Page 2
Nov. Dec., 2006                 Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

Volume 5, Issue 6

      The Greenhouse Business
  (Continued from Pg 1)
  ♦   Evaluation of greenhouse substrates containing
      zeolite and secondary use of spent substrates.
      Excellent work on comparing different substrates
      for greenhouse vegetable production and the use
      of spent material. Already some growers are tak-
      ing advantage of this research. A final report is
      available from Dr. Nick Savidov, at email:
  ♦   Aquaponics systems for production of green-
      house crops and fish. It appears that this research
      information is being taken up by organic produc-
      ers and new investment possibilities are emerging.
  ♦   Evaluation of the risks and benefits of products
      commonly used in greenhouse sanitation.
  Besides these projects we are getting a lot of help
  from entomologists like Dr. Ken Fry from Olds Col-
  lege and Dr. Andy Keddie from the University of Al-
  berta. Just a few days ago, Dr. Keddie was mention-
  ing that he has a predator for loopers in the green-
  house. I took the following picture from Dr. Nick
  Savidov trials at CDCS, Brooks.

                                                            Olds College is constantly positioning itself to cater to
                                                            the needs of the industry. There are other projects
                                                            which should be of interest to you as well:
  It was fascinating to see this predator sucking juices    ♦   A profitability prediction model system was devel-
  out of cabbage loopers on cucumbers. I am gradually           oped for greenhouse vegetables, and already two
  seeing more and more of these loopers causing prob-           workshops were held to demonstrate this system to
  lems in cucumbers. If you have forgotten how the              growers. It is called COBRA-GREEN
  damage looks, here are three pictures:                        (Commercial Business Return Analyzer for Green-
                                                                houses).              (Continued on Pg. 3)
Nov. Dec., 2006                     Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

                                                                                                                         Page 3
Volume 5, Issue 6

       The Greenhouse Business
  (Continued from Pg. 2)                                              So, at the end of 2006 you think about the industry
              The program is interactive and the data gener-          and your own business and see what direction you are
              ated helps with the annual review process. Act-         proceeding Don’t forget the role which Alberta
              ually, you can plug in figures any time and see         Greenhouse Growers Association is playing in the
              how you are doing in your business. It also             development of the industry. Your association cele-
              helps you present your business expansion               brated its silver jubilee in 2006 (25 years). In its meet-
              plan to a financial institution in a format they        ings, the focus always is, how the members could
              understand. We plan to expand it to other sectors       benefit more and increase their profitability. Check
              the industry.                                           out their newly updated website
  ♦     A project is being worked on for the development of
        decision making tools for investing in the use of alter-      I always want to acknowledge the contribution of al-
        native fuels and energy conservation. Many requests           lied trade staff who are always supplying good quality
        were coming in, asking if one should invest in coal,          information on new products and are willing to work
        wood, biogas, or co-generation systems. This infor-           with us on any issues. Their cooperation and help is
        mation should help you make decisions.                        greatly appreciated and acknowledged.
  ♦     An excellent study has been completed on the feasibil-
        ity of a large scale vegetable greenhouse in Alberta.
                                                                      We have an excellent team of people in place, working
        The purpose was to find out details about markets,
                                                                      with the Alberta Greenhouse Industry. I am excited
        imports and driving forces, and see if a large scale
                                                                      to see that there is a commitment from our managers
        greenhouse investment is feasible.
                                                                      to see this industry grow. The challenge for 2007 and
  ♦     A lot of work has been done with labor availability           beyond is to position ourselves to take advantage of
        issues and many of the greenhouse growers are taking          population growth in Alberta. Our customers have
        advantage of different programs.                              more disposable income to invest in horticulture.
  ♦     Gathering costs of production information every two           People want healthier, home grown vegetables which
        or three years is vital to gage the financial health of the   are safe and nutritious, and are demanding diversified
        industry. Nabi Chaudhary and his team have been               products. So, let us get ready for 2007. I am so
        doing a great job for the past 25 years. A recent re-         thankful to all of the industry for their cooperation
        port on the economics of production and marketing             and help, which they extend any time I want.
        of greenhouse crops in Alberta has been completed
        and made available at the Green Industry Show and
        Conference. Contact me if you need a copy:
  ♦     Another study was completed on Dutch Greenhouse
                                                                                      Merry Christmas
        Industry by Ava Dureing. You will find very useful
        information about how the Dutch Industry is organ-                         & Happy New Year!
        ized in marketing and promoting their product.
Nov. Dec., 2006                 Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

                                                                                                                  Page 4
Volume 5, Issue 6

       The Greenhouse Business
                           SOME POINTERS ON HANDLING SEEDLINGS

   Seedlings will be arriving in December and January. Here are some management tips on handling them under
   low winter light conditions:
   ♦   Check out for any signs of insects and diseases. Although suppliers do a good job to send you clean plants,
       insects like fungus gnats and diseases like Pythium may be there.
   ♦   Most important practice is to irrigate the rockwool blocks with a higher E.C. fertilizer solutions. Simply add
       extra potassium sulfate (0-0-52) to your regular feed, to make an E.C. of 3.5 mmhos for cucumbers, 5.0 for
       tomatoes and 3.0 for peppers. The purpose is to create water stress situation for the seedlings. In media like
       rockwool, it is difficult to withhold water to avoid stretching, so by raising the E.C. water stress is created.
   ♦   Monitor the E.C. in the block and maintain it around 4.0 for cucumbers, 6.0 for tomatoes and 3.5 for pep-
   ♦   Avoid overcrowding of seedlings. Place them on the slabs on the plastic and don’t put them in the growing
       medium until flowers are fully open on the first cluster in the case of tomatoes, there are 7-10 leaves on cu-
       cumbers and first flower is open in case of peppers at the first branching level.
   ♦   Once the seedlings are in the growing medium, drop the E.C. level in the feed by one unit spread over a
       week. On cloudy days, maintain higher E.C. by one unit.
   ♦   In order to establish more roots, you can cluster prune flowers. Entire cluster can be removed in case of to-
       matoes. Remove tendrils from cucumbers as early as possible.
   ♦   Pay close attention to copper and molybdenum levels in the feed, especially when you are using coir as the
       growing medium.
   ♦   Also, pay attention to adequate leaching.

   Mohyuddin Mirza, Processed Foods Branch, Agri-Business Expansion Division and Nabi Chaudhary, Economics
   and Competitiveness Division.
   We attended the 28th annual Canadian Greenhouse Conference, held in Toronto, from October 3 - 5th, 2006. The
   theme of the conference was “working together to keep the industry strong”, and had a great focus on energy re-
   lated issues for the greenhouse industry. There was a good blend of information transfer, marketing and new tech-
Nov. Dec., 2006                    Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

                                                                                                                     Page 5
Volume 5, Issue 6

          The Greenhouse Business
 (Continued from Pg. 4)

 Pre-Conference Tour: The tour took us through four commercial greenhouses and Greenhouse & Processing Crops
 Research Station, Harrow. One aspect, which we noticed, was the large size of greenhouses when compared to Alberta,
 and consequently energy demands were also handled differently. The greenhouse managers were frank and open and
 shared the information readily.
 Ontario Plants in St. Thomas, was the first stop of the tour, which is a vegetable seedling propagation facility, spread
 over a 14 acre modern glass structure.

                                               The facility grows cucumbers, tomatoes and pepper seedlings with 80% of
                                               the supply going to Ontario, 10% to Quebec and 10% to US markets. The
                                               seedlings are primarily grown from February to April and then spring ann-
                                               uals are grown to use the space.
                                               Noteworthy management practices were a very great focus on sanitation so
                                               that clean, healthy seedlings are supplied water recycling by using UV disin-
                                               fection system, use of artificial lights and excellent labor management.
                                               All tomato seedlings are grafted using Maxi Fort and Big Power as rootstock.
 Disease and insect control is 100% biological in winter with emphasis on preventative measures. Average price per seed-
 lings is $1.00 + seed costs. Rockwool is the primary growing medium. (

                                                               Their motto is seen in this picture. A question was asked
                                                               what was meant by “honor the majesty of God”. The owner
                                                               replied, “that it is a commitment of honesty and integrity.”
                                                               Respecting the dignity of our co-workers and produce the
                                                               best plant possible, was a great statement of objectives.
                                                               Greenhouse & Processing Crops Research Station,
                                                               Harrow: This is a federal research facility in Harrow doing
                                                               research with greenhouse crops. Some of the projects in-

 ♦     Evaluation of organic growing systems using rockwool, coir and perlite as growing media. Four liquid feeds are being
       compared with standard inorganic fertilizers.
 ♦     Effect of nutrient solution oxygen enrichment from 20 to 75 ppm on yields of seedless cucumbers
                                                                                                                (Continued on Pg. 6)
Nov. Dec., 2006                   Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

                                                                                                                   Page 6
Volume 5, Issue 6

          The Greenhouse Business
 (Continued from Pg 5)

 ♦     High wire cucumber production with artificial lights. A 4 months yield of 380 cucumbers/sq.m has been reported
       in this experiment.
 There were many other research experiments being conducted. One of the most interesting and of importance to Al-
 berta growers, appeared to be where liquid foam was being injected between two layers of greenhouse poly. This is
 done at night time, with considerable heat saving.

                                                   This picture shows how liquid foam is injected in between two
                                                   layers of poly and is constantly replenished as it disintegrates. The
                                                   foam injection system can be retrofitted. Later on at the trade show
                                                   it was found that there is a company, which is marketing this tech-
                                                   nology on a commercial basis. Contact Sunarc of Canada Inc.
                                                   Other research projects can be checked out at:
 Agriville: This greenhouse facility is in Kingsville and comprises 20 acres under glass and 20 acres of double poly.
 Crops produced are Beefstake and Tomatoes on the Vine (TOV) and Peppers.

                                                 Investing into new glass greenhouses in this part of Ontario is becom-
                                                 ing more common and the reason is to capture more natural light.
                                                 Higher production as compared to double poly were reported by
                                                 Tomatoes produced in this greenhouse are marketed under the name
                                                 Muccipac. Two large wood burning Vyncke boilers were being in-
                                                 stalled. It was mentioned that one of the most important factors to
                                                 consider when investing in such wood-waste boilers is to have enough
                                                 storage capacity.
                                              This is the picture of a Vyncke boiler being installed. You need a mini-
                                              mum greenhouse size of at least 20 acres to install such heating systems.
                                              Agriville greenhouses also use oil and natural gas for heating. The com-
                                              ments were “don’t depend on one type of heating fuel”, Keep heating
                                              systems diversified.
                                              Water recycling is practiced and UV disinfection is used. Irrigation prac-
                                              tices are adjusted for more light in glass greenhouses and similarly the
                                              Electrical Conductivity (E.C.) is adjusted with light. (Continued on Pg. 7)
Nov. Dec., 2006                   Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

                                                                                                                  Page 7
Volume 5, Issue 6

          The Greenhouse Business
 (Continued from Pg. 6)

 Golden Jem, Ruthven: This greenhouse is involved in the production and marketing of peppers with 8 acres under
 glass and 6 acres under poly. Natural gas and oil are used for heating the greenhouses. It was mentioned that they
 have increased their pepper production from 21 kg/m2 in 2005 to 25-26 kg/m2 in 2006 under glass.

 Excellent fruit load was evident. Crop is grown on raised troughs,
 water is recycled and Ozone is used for disinfection. There was good
 discussion on differences in watering practices between glass and poly
 greenhouses. It was mentioned that more attention is paid to crops
 under glass as compared to poly. Due to more light under glass, water
 is delivered more frequently and E.C. adjusted to light conditions.

                                        The fruit is picked and moved to these trolleys and brought to a
                                                packing station.

 Great Lakes Greenhouses, Leamington: This was our last stop. It is a 23-acre double poly and 2 acres of glass
 facility, growing cucumbers. A winter crop is also produced.

                                                         The seedlings were being planted on October 3rd. There were
                                                         4 acres of mini cucumbers for wholesale market and packed in
                                                         dozens. The spacing was 1.8 plants/m2. Liquid CO2 is used.
                                                         Coir is the growing medium and after one year of use it is sold
                                                         to the landscape industry. Water is recycled and leach is heat
                                                         pasteurized at 90C and then one third is mixed with fresh nu-
                                                         trient solution.

                                                                                          (Continued on Pg. 8)
Nov. Dec., 2006                   Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

                                                                                                                     Page 8
Volume 5, Issue 6

          The Greenhouse Business
 (Continued from Page 7)

                                                    A commercial pack of 12 mini cucumbers is shown here. They were
                                                    packaged in bulk without wrapping and it appears the popularity for
                                                    snacking is increasing.

 Information from Energy Session: There were four very informative presentations on energy issues. First talk was by
 Fernando Preto, CANMET Energy Technology Centre, Ottawa. He presented an overview of bioenergy and economics
 for smaller growers. After highlighting the “attraction” of bioenergy as an economic alternative to the use of natural gas,
 he said that actual fuel cost is just the tip of the iceberg. In his words, “In many cases biomass appears to be a viable al-
 ternative with significantly lower fuel cost. However, total cost must include other considerations including: fur-
 nace/boiler costs, fuel handling systems, fuel storage requirements, long term secure contracts, manpower and other op-
 erating costs, emission control and carbon di oxide requirements.”
 He provided very useful information on costs and savings. For example, once the capital cost is paid (5 years @ 6%),
 then the annual costs drop considerably. In year 6, cost for wood pellet is $7.1/GJ for 4 acres greenhouse, and year 6
 costs (for wood chips) is $3.2/GJ for a 20 acre greenhouse.
 He also pointed out that potential competition might come from power generating stations, which use the same fuel as
 greenhouses. He also provided information on biomass and carbon di oxide stating that biomass can be CO2 neutral.
 The second presentation was by three growers who talked about their own systems and how they are utilizing bioenergy
 sources. One of the presenters from Enniskillen Pepper company, Pertrolia, Ontario, emphasized that largest costs
 should be attacked first and then have some benchmarks to compare with. For example, a benchmark of 8500 GJ per
 acre, which is $18.25 per sq. m., should be $71,500 per acre, while their cost was $93,000 per acre. $8.40 per GJ burner
 tip is benchmark. During 2005 - $10.8 GJ natural gas at burner tip and target is $7.00/GJ or $60,000 per acre.
 It was mentioned that in making any decision to switch over to alternative fuels, “happy neighbors syndromes” should
 always be kept in mind. You don’t want to start fights with your neighbors when they see thick smoke coming out of the
 chimney. They finally settled with a biomass boiler, which could burn oat hulls, wheat made into short pellet size and
 edible bean by products. His take home message was that natural gas is clean, easy, efficient and predictable. Biomass is
 dirty, not easy, less efficient and unpredictable. It is a risk management tool that does work and more management is re-
 Henry Eising, Eising Greenhouses and Garden Centre, Simcoe, ON, mentioned in his presentation that he used a 260 x
 32 foot wide greenhouse structure for wood waste storage. A conveyor takes the wood waste to the boiler and then au-
 gured in. They use kiln dried, soft wood waste. Natural gas system is used as a back up and they have a heat storage sys-
 tem. They have a 300 hp boiler for 2 acres of greenhouses.                          (Continued on Pg. 9)
Nov. Dec., 2006                    Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

                                                                                                                      Page 9
Volume 5, Issue 6

         The Greenhouse Business
  (Continued from Pg. 8)

  Demand Side Management “Lessons Learned” Energy Program for Greenhouses, was a very useful presentation
  by Mike Bouk, Ag. Energy Co-operative, Ron MacDonald, Agviro, Jeff Chambers, Geomatrix Consultants and Engi-
  neers. This was a report of a project where the purpose was to identify opportunities to decrease consumption by 20%
  or more through conservation and efficiency - over $50 million annually. The project did not address alternative fuel
  In this study they monitored and collected data on energy use and flow from 4 intensive audit sites and 16 regular audit
  sites. In this way they developed a database which has over 4,000 records and one is able to query and compare energy
  use between growers. In a table they showed a comparison of general heating, ventilation and electrical system capaci-
  ties. Electrical services were reported as Amps/m2, heating as GJ/m2, passive ventilation as m2 of vents/m2 of floor
  and mechanical ventilation as hp/m2. Based on this data they identified 27 energy saving technologies under 4 main
  categories: Boiler Opportunities, Insulation Opportunities, Electrical Opportunities and Heat Recovery and Conserva-
  tion Opportunities.

  Other Talks of Interest:
  ♦     Peter Stradiot, Innogreen Consulting, Herent Belgium gave two talks on plant steering to improve yields and plant
        vigour - balancing vegetative and generative models. He identified several environmental and cultural practices
        which can be used to steer the plant towards the desired direction and obtain better yields. His conclusions were:
        identify last year’s bottlenecks in your crop, visual or measurable, determine the date of the first symptoms, look
        back to the climate or irrigation data of - 3 weeks before the first symptoms, re-define your limits to have an optimal
        crop, make a crop plan for the 6 phases and evaluate your crop plan weekly.
  ♦     Xiuming Hao, Greenhouse and Processing Crops, Research Centre, Harrow, presented information on the influ-
        ence of light and carbon di oxide on plant growth of greenhouse vegetables. In case of cucumbers, he mentioned
        that light source was 400 Watts HPS lamps with an installed capacity of 170 watts/m2, a photoperiod of 12-20
        hours and light supplied when outside global radiation was below 300 Wayys/ms. His summary was that supple-
        mental lighting increased cucumber fruit yields from October to March (for 6 months). Supplemental lighting in-
        creased light use efficiency in December and January and energy use efficiency from November to February. Fruit
        yield linearly increased with supplemental light intensity (0 to 16 klx). High plant density (3 plants/m2) is needed
        for fully achieving the yield potential with supplemental lighting.
  ♦     Peter Konjoian of Konjoian’s Floriculture Education Services gave a talk on meeting your customer’s needs. In a
        climate where more large stores are offering lower prices, he said that quality is the key to attract customers and give
        them a good service. Satisfying the customer needs is the key.
  ♦     Creative Merchandising and Market Planning was another interesting presentation by Andy Buyting of GreenVillage
        Home and Garden. His focus was on starting with a Market Plan. He also highlighted that one needs a plan for
        spring and also for Fall and Christmas Marketing and don’t forget about the yearly marketing budget. Once the
        plan is set, one must stick to it very closely.                                              (Continued on Pg. 10)
Nov. Dec., 2006                      Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

                                                                                                                    Page 10
Volume 5, Issue 6

          The Greenhouse Business
 (Continued from Pg 9)
                                             From The Trade Show:
                                            This company manufactures what is called high efficiency, mini boilers. A 50%
                                            fuel saving is claimed and they can manufacture boilers up to 4 million BTU cap-

                                            UV disinfection systems for recycled
                                            water with pre-filtration system.

                                                  High intensity LED light source. Check out some details at this website.

 New Plant Material:

             There were several newer varieties on display, which growers can check with their seeding suppliers.
 Summary: Overall very good conference. Tour was very informative. Picked up several technologies of interest and
 information has been passed on to growers. Focus on alternative fuels is more in Ontario at this time because of their
 large greenhouse size.
Nov. Dec., 2006                      Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

                                                                                                                              Page 11
Volume 5, Issue 6

      The Greenhouse Business
                                 BY FUSARIUM LACTIS. - A NEW DISEASE
                                  P. Kharbanda (1), J. Yang,(1), R. Howard (2), and M. Mirza (3)
           (1)   Alberta Research Council, Vegreville, (2) Alberta Agriculture Food and Rural Development, CDC
                 South, Brooks. (3) Alberta Agriculture Food and Rural Development, CDC North, Edmonton

  In 2003, several greenhouse growers reported infection of pepper fruits showing a fungus inside the fruit without show-
  ing any obvious outside symptoms rendering the infected fruits unsaleable and unusable (Figure 1). Growers tried to
  screen the fruit based on external observation but were not successful, and a significant amount of fruit had to be de-
  stroyed. The disease became a serious marketing issue. Therefore, a research project was launched by scientists at the
  Alberta Research Council (ARC) and Alberta Agriculture Food and Rural Development in 2004, to determine the cause
  of the disease, how it spreads, and how to control it. Financial supports were obtained from ACIDF, AGGA, ARC,
  Pik-N-Pak and Red Hat Coop. This report gives the results achieved so far.
  Main objectives of the study were to determine:
  ♦   The cause of the disease
  ♦   Are there any varieties resistant to the causal fungus
  ♦   How the fungus spreads in a greenhouse
  ♦   How serious is the disease in Alberta greenhouses
  ♦   How to control and avoid the disease

  Figure 1. Pepper fruits showing internal fruit rot caused by Fusarium sp. Apparently, healthy fruits (left) show the fun-
  gus when split open (right).
                                                                                                      (Continued on Pg. 12)
Nov. Dec., 2006                   Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

                                                                                                                        Page 12
Volume 5, Issue 6

        The Greenhouse Business
  (Continued from Pg. 11)

  The Cause:
  Infected red, yellow and orange pepper fruits and stems were collected from commercial greenhouses in Alberta and
  processed for fungal isolation during the summer of 2004. More than 40 Fusarium isolates were recovered; these iso-
  lates mainly belonged to two species, Fusarium solani and Fusarium lactis (previously identified as Fusarium proliferatum)
  based on their morphological characteristics (Figure 2).
  Fusarium solani caused rapid infection and showed external fruit and stem infections in 14 days, while Fusarium lactis
  caused internal infection of inoculated fruits and developed slowly and showed symptoms in about 40 days after inocu-
  It was observed that orange pepper (‘Sympathy’) had the greatest amount of internal fruit rot (Figure 3) while the red
  variety had less internal infection but had most outer infection which started at the blossom and/or penduncle end.
  Stem infection became severe in June and July.
  A similar disease, caused by Fusarium subglutinans was reported in B.C. in 2002. However, the pepper fruit disease in Al-
  berta exhibiting internal fruit symptoms is a new disease and is caused by Fusarium lactis.
  Research on DNA sequencing is being carried out to classify the Fusarium isolates correctly and to develop molecular
  diagnostic tools. (Figure 4).

  Figure 2. Morphology of Fusarium isolated from infected pepper fruit: microconidia (spores) in short chains is one of
  the distinguishing characteristics.
                                                                                                (Continued on Pg. 13)
Nov. Dec., 2006                  Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

                                                                                                                        Page 13
Volume 5, Issue 6

    The Greenhouse Business
     (Continued from Pg. 12)

                                                         a                                       b

                                                          c                                       d

     Figure 3: Pathogenicity test showed that internal infection of a red pepper fruit (‘Early California Wonder’, a and
     b) and an orange pepper fruit (‘Sympathy’, c and d) inoculated with Fusarium lactis in a greenhouse in Vegreville.
     The mature fruit appeared healthy externally (a and c) but was infected internally (b and d).

        M 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 M 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 M 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 M

     Figure 4. DNA pattern of 40 Fusarium isolates amplified with primers VER1/VER2 in a polymerase chain reac-
     tion. M = 1 kb DNA marker.                                                           (Continued on Pg. 14)
Nov. Dec., 2006                   Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

                                                                                                                    Page 14
Volume 5, Issue 6

    The Greenhouse Business
     (Continued from Pg. 13)

     Disease Survey:
     In the fall of 2004, an extensive disease survey was conducted in Alberta. Special emphasis was placed on detect-
     ing internal fruit rot, the new disease. Eight commercial greenhouses and one experimental greenhouse growing
     sweet peppers were surveyed. Information on cultural practices, disease history and disease management practices
     was gathered from growers. Approximately 25% of the plants in each greenhouse were visually examined for
     symptoms of stem and fruit rot diseases that were present. Samples of diseased plants and fruits were collected
     and taken to the laboratory for microscopic observation, pathogen isolation and/or tissue testing. Samples of raw
     water, as well as feed, leachate and/or return (recirculation) solution, were taken for pathogen testing. Structural
     components, walls, walkways, worktables, pipes etc that could harbour pathogens were checked for the presence of
     fungus. Petri plates of potato dextrose agar were exposed to the air in various areas of each greenhouse for one
     minute to assess the airborne microbial load. Mature fruits were randomly picked up, cut open and checked for
     internal infection.
     Results showed that the major causal agent of internal fruit rot on pepper in Alberta greenhouses was F. lactis that
     has never been reported in greenhouse peppers in Canada. Internal fruit rot was about 3 percent on orange pepper.
     Other serious disease was Fusarium stem rot which ranged from 5 percent (yellow pepper) to 12 percent (orange
     Disease Spread in Greenhouses:
     Spore trapping using a special spore trap and culturing techniques has been in progress in several commercial
     greenhouses in Alberta over the past year. Results obtained so far indicate that Fusarium spores are present in the
     air in infested greenhouses (Table 1). Pollinator bees, captured and processed, were found to carry Fusarium spores
     on their mouth parts and legs.
     Pollen grains associated with the bees were infected with fungal mycelia; hyphae grew on the pollen and came out
     from an infected pollen grain (Figure 5). It is a strong possibility that pollinator bees transport fungal spores along
     with pollens from flower to flower and help spread the disease in the greenhouse.
                 Table 1. Number of Fusarium-like spores/colonies on slides/plates
                 from spore trapping test in 2005.
                  Month                    Slide                   Plate
       April                      0.75*                    0**
       May                        5.0                      2
       June                       0.5                      2
       July                       75.0                     16
       Aug                        -                        10
       Sept                       -                        19
       Oct                        -                        350

     * Mean number of spores of 4 slides ** Total Fusarium-like colonies of 8 plates.               (Continued on Pg. 15)
Nov. Dec., 2006                           Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

                                                                                                                  Page 15
Volume 5, Issue 6

    The Greenhouse Business
     (Continued from Pg. 14)


     Figure 5. Scanning electron microscopic images showing pepper pollen grains on hind legs of pollinator bees (left)
     infected by fungus. Fungal mycelia were visible (arrow, right).
     Varietal Resistance:
      Experiments are in progress in Vegreville to determine if there are any varieties resistant to the disease. A total of
     11 varieties have been tested; based on the tests so far, all varieties are susceptible but white and orange peppers
     were more susceptible to the pathogen than brown and yellow peppers (Table 2). The mechanism of differential
     susceptibility is not known. It was noticed that internal infection could also occur on seeds. Perhaps the initial in-
     fection was introduced into Canada on infected seeds.
     Table 2. Disease incidence and severity of 10 pepper varieties in a variety susceptibility trial in Vegreville in 2005.

                               Variety           Disease Incidence (%)             Disease Severity
                           Sympathy                      65 a*                           1.43 a**
                               Captain                   47 ab                            1.29 ab
                           Zamboni                       44 ab                            0.80 ab
                               Triple 4                  48 ab                            0.96 ab
                           For Ever                      51 ab                            0.88 ab
                               Gretsky                   40 ab                            0.68 ab
                               Marona                    20 b                             0.48 b
                               Bianca                    44 ab                            1.28 ab
                               Mavras                    36 ab                            0.60 ab
                               Tequila                   52 ab                            1.12 ab
Nov. Dec., 2006                     Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

                                                                                                                   Page 16
Volume 5, Issue 6

       The Greenhouse Business
  (Continued from Pg. 16)

  Disease Management:
  An integrated disease management program is being developed in collaboration with the greenhouse industry. At the
  Alberta Research Council, we are testing several experimental fungicides along-with biocontrol agents. We found 8
  bacterial isolates that showed certain level of inhibition of Fusarium isolates. Further testing to develop a disease con-
  trol program is underway.
  Until we understand the complete process of disease development, it is difficult to formulate a complete disease
  management program. In the meanwhile, greenhouse growers can take the following steps to reduce the adverse
  impact of the disease:
        ♦     Follow good sanitation practices
        ♦     Carefully dispose of infected fruits and plants
        ♦     Maintain good air circulation in the greenhouse
        ♦     Keeping relative humidity below 85%
        ♦     Prevent excessive wounding to the stem and fruit
  Future Studies Planned:
  1. Disease process needs to be studied to reveal insight of the disease development. Information on how the dis-
   ease starts, how it enters the fruit, source of primary inoculum, the disease cycle and the host range of the pathogen
   is needed to fully understand the relationship of the pathogen and the host, and finally to develop disease control
  2. Epidemiology study needs to be done to determine effects of environmental factors, such as temperature and
   relative humidity, on the disease development. Information will help to develop integrated greenhouse manage-
   ment strategies to prevent the disease.
  3. Attempts are also being made to determine if the fungus Fusarium lactis produces any mycotoxins in the infected
   fruits. The influence of environmental conditions on toxin production needs to be determined.
  We would like to thank Alberta Crop Industry Development Fund, Agriculture and Food Council of Alberta, Al-
  berta Research Council, Alberta Agriculture Food and Rural Development, Alberta Greenhouse Growers Associa-
  tion, Pik-N-Pak Produce Ltd. And Red Hat Coop, for financial support and in-kind support. We also appreciate
  cooperation of several greenhouse crop producers in southern and central Alberta for their kind support and permis-
  sion to use their greenhouses for research.
Nov. Dec., 2006                     Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

                                                                                                                         Page 17
Volume 5, Issue 6

       The Greenhouse Business

 This could be the most idea-packed event you attend all winter. Don’t miss it!
 AgChoices 2007
 February 21, 2007 at the Harvest Centre, Westerner Park, Red Deer
 World Class Speakers:
 ♦   Dr. Richard Loreto - demographic trends and their implications for Alberta
 ♦   Darrell Toma - “Future of Farming and Best Management Practices - What do you need to do?”
 ♦   Alberta’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development
 ♦   Catherine Samson - Seeing Change in a Humorous Light
 AgInfo Market:
 Small interactive groups where producers find out about projects/programs from Alberta Agriculture project managers.
 Three $10, 000 Best Practices Renewal Awards:
 ▪ Beginning December 8, 2006 Alberta producers who register for AgChoices 2007 can submit their application to win
 one of three Best Practices Renewal Awards valued at $10,000.
 ▪ Producers must be 18 years or older, own farmland in Alberta and must be able to show how they want to expand or
 add value to their farm.
 ▪   The three winners will be those whose applications are judged to best demonstrate a powerful business idea.
 Application deadline is Thursday February 1, 2007 at 4:30 pm.
 Conference fees:
 ▪   $95 per person (including GST)
 ▪   $75 each for two or more people registering from the same family or farm business
 ▪   Students $45
 ▪   $20 deduction if registering before February 1
 Fee includes conference information package, buffet meal and coffee breaks
 To register for AgChoices 2007 and apply for the Best Practices Renewal Award, please visit or call
 the Alberta AgInfo Centre toll free 1-800-387-6030 to register.
Nov. Dec., 2006                 Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

                                                                                                           Page 18
Volume 5, Issue 6

         The Greenhouse Business


 When:           Wednesday, February 21, 2007
 Where:          Crop Diversification Centre, 17507 - Fort Road, Edmonton, Alberta
 Cost:           $53.00 (includes GST) for AGGA members - Delicious lunch included
                 $74.20 (includes GST) for Non-members - Delicious lunch included
 AGGA membership available - prorated. Get the application at and save $20.

     9:00 a.m.       Coffee is ON – Registration
     10:00 a.m       Taking advantage of driving forces to make your business more profitable. M.Mirza
     11:15 a.m       Impact of higher energy costs on bedding plants business – Nabi Chaudhary
     12:15 a.m       LUNCH – Not Just Sandwiches- Rice, Veggies, chicken and sweets
     1:15 p.m.       Growing quality plants by managing nutrients, water, schedules, plugs
                     and other crop management practices. T. Rypien and M.Mirza
     4:30 p.m        Have a safe trip home

                           Register Early - Seats Limited to 40 - First Come, First Serve

                                                                                   (Continued on Pg. 19)
Nov. Dec., 2006                          Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

Volume 5, Issue 6
                                                                                                                            Page 19

       The Greenhouse Business
  (Continued from Page 18)

      Registration Form- Fill and Fax to Dr.
      M.Mirza 780-422-6096
      …………………………………………………………………………Postal Code………………
      Amount enclosed $…………………………….
      Cheques payable to Alberta Greenhouse Growers Association.

                 The Greenhouse Business is published bi-monthly by the Business Development Branch of Business and Innovations
                 Division of Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development.
                 Editor: Dr. Mohyuddin Mirza, Crop Diversification Centre, North, 17507 Fort Rd., Edmonton, AB.
                 Canada, T5Y 6H3. Phone: (780) 415-2303, Fax: (780) 422-6096, Email:
                 Contributing Editors:
                 Nick Savidov, Greenhouse Crop Scientist, Crop Diversification, Centre South, Brooks
                 Dr. Ron Howard, Plant Pathologist, Crop Diversification, Centre South, Brooks
                 Thom Rypien, Westgro Horticultural Supplies Inc.,, Calgary
                 Newsletter Layout: Linda Gnam & Linda Thomas, Fairview
                 Disclaimer: The identified use or notation of any particular brand of product is not identified as a recommenda-
                 tion nor should any recommendation be inferred.

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