Organic fruit production in British Columbia.

Neilsen, G.H., Lowery, D.T., Forge, T.A., and Neilsen, D. (2009). "Organic fruit production in British Columbia.", Canadian Journal of Plant Science, 89(4), pp. 677-692. doi : 10.4141/CJPS08167  Access to full text

Abstract

British Columbia has climatic conditions suitable for the production of a wide range of high-value fruit crops, and has the highest rate of increase of organic production in Canada. This review assesses the current status of organic fruit production using a case study of the three most valuable fruit crops currently grown: apple (Malus × domestica Borkh.), grape (Vitis vinifera L.) and high bush blueberry (Vaccinium corybosum L.). The review emphasizes the current status of organically acceptable management of crop resources and crop protection from insects and diseases. Central to organic production are soil management strategies designed to maintain soil fertility and increase soil biological activity and biodiversity by increasing soil organic matter content. Composts and organic amendments that require vigilant testing of their variable and often lower nutrient content are substituted for the chemical fertilizers of conventional production. Increased effort to manage vegetation within and between planting rows is necessitated by an inability to use herbicides. Thus, techniques such as mulching, cultivation and cover cropping are important. Management of insects and diseases requires detailed information of the agro-ecosystem and the unique interactions between pests and specific crops. Organic approaches to minimize pest damage include altered production practices or applications of organically approved control products. Some aspects of organic production systems have received little or no research. In irrigated areas, there is little information available on water management that supports conservation and the specific needs of organic production systems. Historically, research on organic production systems has not received the financial support allocated to conventional system research. Many research needs are identified in this review both applicable to all three fruit crops studied, but also specific to the individual crop. It is argued that future consumer demand calls for an acceleration of research on organic fruit production systems.

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