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Province upgrading New Liskeard seed facility

Superior Plant Upgrading and Distribution (SPUD) Unit provides seed stock for province’s fruit and vegetable crops
The Ontario Crops Research Centre – New Liskeard (formerly known as the New Liskeard Agricultural Research Station or NLARS) manages approximately 56.5 hectares (140 acres) of land in and near New Liskeard.

Upgrades planned for an agricultural research station in New Liskeard will enable researchers to continue propagating fruit and vegetable seed stock for producers across the province.

On June 24, the province announced $330,000 in funding from the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (Sustainable CAP) toward upgraded facilities and equipment at the Superior Plant Upgrading and Distribution (SPUD) Unit in New Liskeard.

Sustainable CAP is a five-year (2023-2028), $3.5-billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments into the agriculture and agri-food sector.

Formerly known as the New Liskeard Agricultural Research Station, the SPUD Unit is operated by the University of Guelph and plays an integral role in Ontario’s vegetable-growing industry.

It consists of a tissue culture laboratory, greenhouses, and cold storage facility, where researchers test for plant diseases and produce healthy plants for use by commercial growers across Ontario.

According to the province, the facility produces 10 per cent of the minitubers needed for seed potato production in Ontario, and is the only source in Canada for garlic seed suited for the Ontario climate.

Along with potatoes, the facility produces strawberry and raspberry plantlets for the Ontario Plant Propagation Program and virus-tested plantlets for crop breeders.

Research is also ongoing into production techniques for nuclear potatoes, raspberries, strawberries, garlic, and asparagus.

“Commercial growers across Ontario are on the cutting edge of innovation, bringing greater crop diversity to the province’s agriculture sector,” Lawrence MacAulay, the federal minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, said in a news release.

“This investment will help growers access top-quality crops and crop research so they can reach current markets and create new opportunities.”

Upgrades to the facility include improvements to the irrigation, air filtration, heating and control systems; increases to sterilization capacity; and improvements to the greenhouse coverings.

It will improve the ability to anticipate, detect, mitigate and reduce plant diseases and pests along the supply chain, benefitting potato, berry, garlic, sweet potato and hazelnut growers in the province.

Work on the facility will start this year and continue through 2025.