Right now they’re tiny seedlings, only a few inches high. In 10 months, they’ll stretch toward the top of the pre-commercial research greenhouse on the campus of Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. And with any luck, in two years they’ll be supplying grocers and consumers across the province with delicious tomatoes.
While many home gardens remain under snow, or at the very least frozen in a deep frost, greenhouse operators are busy getting their tomato plants up and growing. At Vineland, where researchers have been working for six years to develop a made-in-Ontario tomato hybrid suited to the province’s climate and conditions, it’s a labour of love for the many teams involved. “It’s a lot of people working together. It’s really a shared win,” said Travis Banks, research scientist, bioinformatics at Vineland.
The tomato program at Vineland began six years ago, when the centre partnered with the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers. Most of the tomato plants grown in Ontario greenhouses are European varieties suited for the European climate.
“In the summertime, it just doesn’t cool off in our greenhouses,” Banks said.
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