Summerland Research and Development Centre
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
4200 Highway #97, South
Summerland, British Columbia
Search Scientific Staff and Expertise (Summerland Research and Development Centre) to learn more about the expertise of agricultural scientists working at this centre, and to find a list of their research publications.
The Summerland Research and Development Centre was established in 1914, in the heart of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. The Centre consists of two independent research sites: Agassiz and Summerland.
The scientific research at the Centre focuses on high value horticultural crops, particularly wine grapes and tree fruits. Developing strategies to ensure the success of our agricultural industries is of high importance at the Centre—specifically by promoting the generation of knowledge and technologies for environmentally and economically sustainable production of agri-food products.
Summerland Research and Development Centre is a Minor Use Pesticides Program site which conducts research trials on potential solutions to grower-identified pest problems.
Facilities at the Summerland Research and Development Centre include:
- 320 hectare site, with approximately 90 irrigated hectares planted to various tree fruits and wine grapes
- Isolated virus orchard
- Food research, and extraction and fractionation laboratory pilot plant
- Sensory evaluation laboratory
- Microscopy facility with scanning, transmission and confocal capability
- Research scale controlled atmosphere facility
- Small lot winery
- Canadian Plant Virus Collection
- DNA analyzer
- GIS laboratories
- Insect rearing rooms
- Drainage lysimeter
- Ornamental Gardens and Museum
Current research activities
Integrated systems for horticulture and environment
- Lead research on woody perennial crops; develop production systems that enhance producer profitability while sustaining the agro-ecosystem
- Research on soil-water-nutrient interactions in perennial cropping systems and their impact on drainage and leaching to groundwater
- Developing resource management strategies for water and nutrients in tree fruits and grapes
- Determining the impact on plant health of beneficial and disease-causing fungi and bacteria.
- Developing apple and sweet cherry varieties with a longer harvest season, excellent fruit quality, disease and insect resistance, and with the capacity to adapt to the Canadian climate.
- Studying the sensitivity of perennial agro-ecosystems to changing environmental conditions including the development of methodology and integrated bio-physical models to determine the effects of these conditions on agricultural ecosystems.
- Discovering ways to enhance the quality of tree fruits and specialty crops, and more efficient ways to produce and store them.
- Understanding the effects of disease-bearing insects, germs and microbes in fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Developing area-wide management techniques for pests and management strategies based on insect chemical ecology and biological control
- Investigating chemical controls, for short term use, in small-scale production crops.
Crop protection biotechnology and genomics
- Lead research in agricultural plant virology; providing new knowledge and tools for mitigating viral plant diseases
- Diagnosing plant viruses to better understand how they replicate so that new diagnostic methods and strategies for disease control can be developed
- Studying the effectiveness of baculoviruses (viruses that kill insects) for possible use as biological pesticides.
- Controlling plant virus diseases through the use of natural products.
- Conserving plant virus genetic resources in both freeze-dried culture and live viruses in living perennial plants including acquisition, maintenance and distribution (Canadian Plant Virus Collection).
Food quality, safety and bio-products
- Sensory profiling of fruit and vegetable products with an emphasis on new cultivar selection for taste, texture, appearance and smell (sensory evaluation).
- Conducting studies to understand critical factors which determine fruit/wine quality including effects of viticulture and terroir; distinguishing new and existing cultivars of grapes and profiling the character of Canadian wines
- Assessing the quality of fruits and vegetables where preservation techniques (such as modified atmosphere packaging) are used to prolong the freshness of the product.
- Identifying and using components from Canadian crops and by-products from food industries to develop foods that promote health beyond their basic nutrients (functional food and neutraceuticals); investigating these food ingredients to determine antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Developing and applying new green technology for separation, extraction, fractionation and bioconversion to obtain various components from agricultural products for conversion and processing into higher-value end products.
- Studying the fate of human pathogens in fresh and ready-to eat fruits and vegetables and developing methods to mitigate their impact
- Determining factors affecting shelf life and quality of fruit and vegetable products destined for fresh consumption.
Results of our research
- Developed sweet cherries (high-quality, later maturing) and fruit handling processes for shipment by sea to expand markets into Asia.
- Developed cultivars, post-storage handling of whole apples and processing recommendations for fresh-cut packaged apple; collaborated with industry partner to release and test new apples.
- Improved Braeburn and Honeycrisp apple quality by using mulches in re-plant disease situations and including fertilizers with irrigation (fertigation).
- New strategies for area-wide pest management complement the Sterile Insect Release Program and have led to reduced insecticide use and increased organic apple and pear production in interior British Columbia.
- Input to 2013 phytosanitary processes (fruit fly management) which resulted in exportation of cherries to China.
- Contributed the use of drought tolerant plants and ground cover to manage insect pests for sustainable wine grape production.
- Contributed to new minor use pesticide registrations through field trials for various tree fruits, vegetables, greenhouse and other specialty crops.
- Plum Pox Virus (PPV) control: developed commercial diagnostic test (5 million tests sold worldwide); seasonal susceptibility of trees; showed that within Prunus, virus is limited to peaches; use of horticultural oils to control virus transmission by aphids.
- Developed control strategies and characterized virus strains affecting greenhouse tomatoes in Ontario, Blueberry scorch in British Columbia and a new virus infecting strawberries in eastern Canada.
Agro-ecosystem productivity and health
- Developed new drip irrigation methodologies that conserve water while enhancing fruit quality for wine production.
- Improved water quality through best management practices that reduce nitrate leaching from red raspberries.
- Developed the BC Water Demand Model, used by 30 communities for regional water supply/demand, to assure future agricultural water supply.
Biodiversity and bioresources
- Generated genomic resources for several important fungal pathogens that lead to breakthroughs in several rust and smut diseases on cereals.
- Used DNA fingerprinting to identify apples and sweet cherries developed at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to protect plant breeders’ rights.
- Weathering winter: New vineyard management practices (2016-02-16)
- Sweet science: Precision apple harvesting (2016-02-01)
- Sweet Science: A new device for checking apple ripeness (video) (2015-08-05)
- Cover Crops: For the control of vineyard pests (video) (2015-08-13)
- Over Wintering Strategies: New vineyard management practices (video) (2015-08-13)
- Green solutions send orchard pests packing (2014-09-30)
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