“Plant the Seeds: Opportunities to Grow Southern Ontario's Fruit and Vegetable Sector” is a new report that outlines the opportunity to expand the $2.2 billion of fruits and vegetables grown in Ontario, including more local production of fresh grapes, pears, strawberries, garlic, eggplant, sweet potatoes, apples, snap peas, cabbage—as well as vertical farming.
This expansion could result in up to $135 million in increased farm-gate revenue, making an important contribution to Ontario’s economic recovery.
For most of the crops examined in this analysis, expanding production across the Greenbelt and southwestern Ontario would displace some of the $7.3 billion of annual imported fruits and vegetables making an important contribution to Ontario’s economic recovery and could provide an even greater contribution to Ontario’s rural economy.
Certain perquisites need to be in place to realize the opportunities, and there is a role for growers, marketers, retailers, industry organizations, research and development institutions, and government to make it happen
Key Findings: Fruit and Vegetable Field Crops with Expansion Possibilities
Strawberries: Ontario field-grown strawberry production could expand to supply 37.5% of annual consumption. That would represent an additional 11,000 tonnes of field-grown strawberries and a potential increase of $45.5 million in farm-gate revenue.
Fresh Grapes: There is an opportunity to increase the market share of Ontario-grown fresh grapes from 1.6% of annual consumption to 8.3%, by planting another 3,720 acres of grape vines. At $7,000 in gross revenue per acre, this increase represents $26.4 million in total farm-gate revenues.
Sweet Potatoes: Beyond fruits, in 2018, Ontario produced 10,132 tonnes of sweet potatoes. By planting just an additional 313 acres, Ontario could satisfy 79% of its consumption of sweet potatoes, resulting in 12,100 additional tonnes of the root vegetable and $2.0 million in farm-gate revenue.
Pears: Pears can be stored for four to six months, depending on the variety, which suggests the potential for Ontario production to expand and supply more than 75% of consumption requirements for one-third of the year, or more. At this volume, Ontario growers would be supplying just under 25% of the Ontario market, a doubling of the current 12% share.
Eggplant: A 25% expansion of eggplant production, to 1,694 tonnes, would account for just under 20% of estimated annual consumption in the province Using 6 tonnes of production per acre, the expansion is by 57 acres, with the expansion representing another $700,000 of farm-gate revenue.
Garlic: This expansion opportunity requires approximately 1,000 additional acres of garlic from the 2018 acreage estimate of 783 planted acres. This expansion equals another $10 to $15 million in farm-gate revenue.
Apples: Since apples can be stored through most of the post-harvest season, there is a large opportunity to replace imported apples of the same variety., Expansion would require planting 700 acres of specific apple varieties, such as Honeycrisp or Royal Gala, and equals around $20 million in farm-gate revenue
Snap Beans: Over the last 20 years snap bean production has increased by 2.2% on average each year. There is an opportunity to further increase snap bean production in the province to meet up to 49% of annual local consumption.
Cabbage: There is an opportunity to expand the production of both regular and Chinese cabbage to supply a larger share of Ontario’s market, which could add another $12.6 million of farm-gate revenue. This is possible because cabbage can be stored for up to a year.
Read the summary on expansion opportunities for Ontario Strawberries and Ontario Garlic:
Farmers Expanding Southern Ontario’s Fruit and Vegetable Sector is an accompaniment piece to Plant the Seeds that tells the stories of four fruit and vegetable farms in southern Ontario that successfully expanded the production of their crops.
Read the full report to learn the history of their farming endeavors and what expanding their operations has looked like: