The Produce Made Simple Ambassadors were on the road again! This time they took a trip to Niagara region to learn more about the Ontario tender fruit industry. The day consisted of touring three facilities – PG Enns, Vineland Co-operative and Tregunno Fruit Farms – and a delicious peach-themed meal al fresco. Here’s a little more about what we learned!
Did you know? There are approx. 10,000 acres of tender fruit in the province and over 200 tender fruit growers in Ontario. In fact, Ontario leads Canada in both peach and nectarine production with 82% of the national production. Peaches are mainly grown in the Niagara region; the soil and climate is perfectly suited to grow delicious peaches and nectarines. The extreme daily high and night time low temperatures we experience through our summers helps create flavour. According to Rob Enns, a 3rd generation Ontario peach farmer, To get that great quality, peaches like to suffer a little bit. Being close to Lake Ontario also helps to create a micro climate that is perfectly suited to growing tender fruit.
Gross sales for Ontario peaches are approx. $65 million annually! Now that is a lot of fruit!
More reasons why Ontario Peaches taste so sweet
Farming today is sophisticated business!
- Peaches are hot when they are picked and need to be cooled quickly to maintain freshness and help them last longer. Larger Ontario grower-packers have invested in advanced cooling systems that use fans to push cold air through vented bins. All of the fruit can be cooled to 3 or 4 degrees Celsius in about 3 hours!
- Computers are used to accurately separate fruit by size, weight and colour.
- New innovations include the use of infrared technology to detect bruising that is naked to the human eye, to further separate out any damaged fruit into a lower grade.
- Peaches are all monitored for food safety and traceability; some facilities also tag fruit to manage stock rotation which maximizes freshness.
- Many growers pick directly into vented bins to minimized touching. Fruit is touched only twice – once when picked and once when packed!
- Grower groups and co-operatives provide centralized support for packaging, sales and logistics to help create efficiencies of scale.
- The colour of a peach doesn’t indicate ripeness, rather variety. Though fruit that is still greenish is not yet ripe.Growers pick when the background colour is yellow (vs. green).
- Peaches can be picked firm as they will continue to ripen after picking.
- Learn more about how to select and store peaches in our 101 article!
Who Are the Ontario Tender Fruit Growers?
The Ontario Tender Fruit Growers is a not for profit, independent farming organization governed by grower members, who are elected by their peers for terms of at least one year. The Ontario Tender Fruit Growers operates under the Farm Products Marketing Act, and represents all Ontario growers of tender fruit who market to either the fresh or processing market. Tender fruit includes peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, cherries and pears. The Ontario Tender Fruit Board supports pricing and research, as well as industry marketing initiatives.
What is the Connection to Produce Made Simple?
Produce Made Simple is an educational campaign that is owned by the non-profit, Ontario Produce Marketing Association. Our offices are located at the Ontario Food Terminal so we are directly connected to those working in the industry; those who grow, pack and sell fresh produce! Our tips and advice are often provided and checked by those who have worked in this industry for their entire careers. We’re privileged to work in an industry with passionate growers-packers like those who hosted us during out tour.
Thank you again to our industry partners who shared their time and knowledge with us, and who welcomed us into their businesses!
- Ontario Tender Fruit Growers
- Niagara Orchard and Vineyard Corp.
- Vineland Growers Co-operative
- PG Enns Farm
- Tregunno Fruit Farms
- Hidden Gem Weddings