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Ontario seed facility to get major upgrades thanks to $330K grant

Up to $330,000 in government funds have been allocated to the Superior Plant Upgrading and Distribution (SPUD) Unit to improve crop health for commercial growers of fruits and vegetables.

In a recent press release, the Governments of Canada and Ontario announced that the funds will go towards a variety of capital and equipment upgrades at the SPUD Unit facility in New Liskeard, Ont.

The funds, which will be allocated through this year and into 2025, will help upgrade  the facility’s irrigation, air filtration, heating and control systems, support increases to sterilization capacity, and improvements to the greenhouse coverings.

“This investment will help growers access top-quality crops and crop research so they can reach current markets and create new opportunities,” Lawrence MacAulay, federal minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, said in the release.

It’s also expected that these upgrades will improve the ability to anticipate, detect, mitigate and reduce plant diseases and pests along the supply chain.

The SPUD Unit produces 10 per cent of the mini tubers needed for seed potato production in Ontario and is the only source in Canada for garlic seed suited for the Ontario climate.

“The SPUD Unit is a critical piece of infrastructure, supporting the clean seed and propagation needs of several significant edible horticulture crops in Ontario,” Shawn Brenn, chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association, said in the release.

The SPUD Unit, operated by the University of Guelph, is funded in part by the Ontario Agri-food Innovation Alliance, a collaboration between the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Agribusiness, the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario with a goal to advance research and innovation.

“The University of Guelph is proud to work with our provincial partners to provide infrastructure that enables cutting-edge research and innovation,” Dr. Rene Van Acker, incoming vice-president (Research and Innovation) at U of G, said in the release. “We welcome this critical investment that will support Ontario’s agri-food sector.”

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