OAG Annual Report
October 31, 2022 - Download the PDF
COMMENTS FROM THE CHAIR
A highlight for myself and the OAG this year was our in-person summer tour in the Durham area east of Toronto, which is in District 5. We had great attendance, and everyone looked so happy to see each other. Our tour coincided with Ontario’s hosting of the Fruit & Vegetable Growers of Canada (FVGC) Apple Working Group meeting which included representatives from British Columbia, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. Thank you to the tour host orchards: Archibald’s Orchard and Estate Winery, Algoma Orchards, and Wilmot Orchards. Thank you to our many sponsors and a very big thank you to Kristy Grigg-McGuffin and Erika DeBrouwer (OMAFRA) for their assistance with planning talks and helping to make this a very successful day.
Another positive for our sector in 2022 is our crop. The crop estimate is up 29% over last year and 19% over the five-year average. There was a scramble for enough bins to hold all the apples and storage space. For both high value varieties, Honeycrisp and Ambrosia, yields were up significantly, and this should help pay for the increased input costs we all experienced.
As far as the pandemic is concerned, I would say 2022 seemed like a “holding pattern” year. While it is no longer new, Covid is not finished with us yet. So here we are, learning to live with the virus. It’s not been a straightforward time to operate a business with all the changing and inconsistent regulations. The OAG continues to support members by providing the most up to date information on Covid regulations for our workers and our businesses.
Worker shortages continue to be a problem in agriculture and many other industries. This will be the case for the foreseeable future. We would not be able to grow our crops if horticulture didn’t have access to SAWP workers. The OAG will continue to work with Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA) on the labour file and keep you apprised of any changes as they happen.
Inflation was a major issue this year as input prices skyrocketed. On our farm, fertilizer expense was up 70% over last year. You can’t turn on the news without hearing how concerned consumers are about the increased cost of groceries. It will be interesting to see whether apple consumption stays strong, or if people think fruit is too expensive.
The OAG conducted a survey of members asking them their planting intentions for the next 5 years. The answers point to an optimistic view of the future because 44% of the respondents indicated that they intend to increase their acreage, 44% said they’d maintain their size, while only 11% plan to decrease the size of their orchards. I predict that there will be lots of apple orchards changing ownership in the next few years due to growers retiring. Farmers aren’t normal when it comes to retirement age however, we do tend to go on and on.
Two key areas for the OAG are research and promotions. With regards to research, we are very fortunate to have received government and stakeholder funding to help our research budget go farther. I encourage you to read the summary research findings in this Annual Report. We are coming to the end of a five-year national Research Cluster, and we’ve spent considerable time reviewing new project proposals for the next Cluster. We are hopeful to have several projects included in the new Cluster which would begin April 2023.
Thank you to OAG Vice Chair Brian Rideout for his assistance as Chair of the Research Committee which includes crop protection issues. Brian is also the OFVGA Crop Protection Section Chair and while issues seem to be somewhat quieter than pre-pandemic, there is still work to be done to ensure that hort growers have the tools and technology they need to produce quality crops.
Promotions are another very important area for the OAG with the goal of building consumer preference and public trust for Ontario apples. We are thankful to receive grant funding from OMAFRA’s Grassroots Growth Initiative for promo activities for the 2022 and 2023 crop years. Thank you also to the Apple Marketers’ Association of Ontario for their contribution again this year.
I thank the Board of Directors and the Committee reps for their continued participation and offering unique perspectives on the issues of the day. To our wonderful manager, Kelly, a big thank you for another of year of great work on behalf of all apple growers. And to her staff - Larissa and Kelle – thank you very much for your hard work this year. We are fortunate to have a cohesive staff team who work collaboratively, not only the Tender Fruit Board, but also other partner organizations. Thank you as well to the OFVGA for their leadership on provincial advocacy and to the FVGC for their work on federal issues.
Previous Annual Reports: