Other major families having cultivated fruit species are Saxifragaceae, with Ribes (currant and gooseberry), and Vitaceae, with Vitis (GRAPE). Each fruit species has many cultivars (commercial varieties), developed for various characteristics. For example, in Canada adaptation to a specific climatic factor (eg, cold winters) is important. Breeding and selection programs give priority to these requirements; CROP RESEARCH programs have developed many cultivars.
The FRUIT AND VEGETABLE INDUSTRY is an important part of the AGRICULTURE AND FOOD distribution sectors of the economy. Fruit and vegetable consumption has increased over the past years, because people are more concerned about their health and want to eat well, and there is also an increase in the number of vegetarians. Over 40 fruit and vegetable crops are grown commercially in Canada, with an annual farm-gate value of about $1.5 billion. Nearly 50% of this figure is for fruits.
Canadian-grown fruit is marketed fresh or is processed in various ways. For example, while most apples and "tender" fruits (cherries, peaches, pears, plums, prunes) are sold fresh, a good proportion is processed into juice, sauce, pie filling, frozen slices and other products.
Sweet cherries are processed for brining (for maraschino cherries) or are frozen (for ice cream and baking use). Tart cherries are frozen or canned (pie filling, jams, jellies, juices). Most Canadian-grown grapes are processed into WINE and juice. The perishable fruits (strawberry, raspberry, blueberry) are preserved by freezing or canning.
Some fruits, particularly apples and pears, are stored at harvest rather than being processed or immediately sold fresh. The fruit continues to live after harvest, using oxygen, giving off carbon dioxide and generating heat (ie, by respiration). This process eventually leads to breakdown of fruit tissues. Refrigeration and controlled-atmosphere storage allow orderly marketing of fresh fruit almost year-round.
Fruit growing is usually restricted to areas where winter temperatures do not go much below -20ºC. Over 85% of commercial fruit growing in Canada occurs in British Columbia, Ontario and Québec, while the remainder is mostly concentrated in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Author J.T.A. PROCTOR
Links to Other Sites
This tasty website offers a basketful of online resources about commercial tree fruit production. Also features information about tree fruit pests and fact sheets for backyard gardeners about varieties of tree fruit that can be grown in BC.
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
See the latest news about food saftey issues in Canada from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
The Okanagan Historical Society
The Okanagan Historical Society provides a tour of intersting historical landmarks found in BC's Okanagan Valley.
Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute
Check out this website for information and reports about current issues impacting on the productivity and competitiveness of Canada's agri-food sector.