GFM Network News


Another growing season comes to an end

A dry summer generally left workable soils, even after September’s wet second half

Another month has come and gone and it’s time to look back at our weather so far this fall. To start off, we saw the end of the growing season across most regions last week, as temperatures fell just below freezing last Thursday morning. I know at my place the thermometer measured an overnight low

Plants can grow in space, as demonstrated by this sunflower seedling on the International Space Station. What’s less clear is how to make agriculture successful in space over the long term.

Space agriculture key to exploration

Nobody knows exactly how space will affect plant growth and reproduction over the long term

Food is an essential of life and if humanity is to escape the cradle of Earth, producing food extraterrestrially is a looming challenge. A recent paper in the journal Botany Letters by French researchers from the University of Clermont-Ferrand, Auvergne demonstrates there are many challenges to address to ensure astronauts can grow enough food aboard


A special type of photosynthesis called CAM allows pineapples to grow on marginal land with up to 80 per cent less water than most food crops.


Unlocking pineapple’s genetic secrets

Engineering crops like wheat to use the pineapple’s method of photosynthesis could dramatically boost its drought tolerance

The pineapple, the tropical fruit enjoyed by people worldwide in slices, chunks, juice, upside-down cakes, piña coladas, glazed ham and pizza, is finally giving up its genetic secrets. Scientists say they have sequenced the genome of the pineapple, learning about the genetic underpinning of the plant’s drought tolerance and special form of photosynthesis. The genome

Spotted wing drosophila (SWD) is a vinegar (fruit) fly of East Asian origin that can damage many crops by piercing healthy fruit and laying its eggs.

Spotted Wing Drosophila an unwelcome visitor to fruit farms this summer

MAFRD began monitoring for SWD in 2013 and this is the worst year yet, say provincial fruit crops specialist

Altona-area fruit grower Waldo Thiessen knew what was wrong immediately when his U-pick customers started calling back a few hours after their first day in his raspberry patch in mid-July. “They said they’d started to make jam, and, well, there was a lot of protein (in the raspberries),” he said. It was larvae of spotted

Chris Siow, a research scientist at the Canadian Centre for Agri-Food Research in Health and Medicine is studying the health benefits of lingonberries.

Wild or farmed? Lingonberries seek place in Manitoba agriculture

Tiny, tart and full of goodness, Manitoba’s wild lingonberries are even healthier than those grown in other areas

Today they belong to the category often labelled as “superfoods,” but Dave Buck has always known that lingonberries were good tasting and nutritious. “I grew up in the bush,” he said. “And I can remember when I was young, my parents would pick the berries, they’d juice them. We’d have juice at Christmas and then


Siblings Shea and Mishaeli Doherty are part of the family that specialized into succulents and today operate Our Farm Greenhouse near Portage la Prairie.

Success with succulents

Our Farm Greenhouse nursery at Portage la Prairie specializes in succulents selling 500 different 
types of the drought-hardy plant retail and wholesale across Manitoba, Ontario and points west

Shea Doherty remembers the weird-looking plant his mom and dad ordered for their fledgling greenhouse business when he was a kid. It was a Mexican Hat-type of succulent with whorled, fleshy leaves. He and his siblings promptly dubbed it their ‘T. Rex’ plant — and were fascinated by it. What they didn’t know then was

What is now known as the Oriental fruit fly previously had four different names.

A destructive crop pest with many different names

The finding is expected to help with international biosecurity and control

A global research effort has finally resolved a major biosecurity issue: four of the world’s most destructive agricultural pests are actually one and the same. For 20 years, some of the world’s most damaging pest fruit flies have been almost impossible to distinguish from each other. The ability to identify pests is central to quarantine,

A lygus bug in canola. Once seeds in the lower pods start to change colour canola crops are less susceptible to lygus bug damage.

Assessing canola’s susceptibility to lygus bug damage

The risk declines as seeds in the lower pods start to change colour

Lygus bugs are still showing up in canola fields, but if seeds on the lower pods are changing colour then spraying with an insecticide is probably uneconomic, says John Gavloski, an entomologist with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development. “The plant can compensate well unless there’s very, very dry conditions,” he said in an interview


Edith and Wayne Smith retired from jobs in the city and moved back to Edith’s family farm in 2002. In early June the trees in their orchard are covered in delicate white blossoms.

Cherry on top

Carman couple Edith and Wayne Smith took up tending a 
not-so-small cherry orchard 
after retirement

It was an idyll of white flowers and buzzing bees in June. In July, it will be popping with bright fruit and filled with U-pickers. This is Wayne and Edith Smith’s Prairie adventure, their fruit farm of the same name, where the 1,000 dwarf sour cherry trees they grow have shed their spring blossoms and

The large plant in the background is a newer variety with golden foliage; 
the smaller plant at its base has the traditional dieffenbachia leaf 
colouration.

Dependable dieffenbachia

This plant is easy to grow and adaptable to many conditions

I am always intrigued by the common names of plants because they often tell much about a plant’s history or characteristics. Sometimes these names are based on old beliefs or superstitions and often better describe the plant than a proper botanical name can. Most people do not know any Latin and so common names, although