ABOUT US

Perennia is a provincial development agency based in Nova Scotia, Canada, focussed on agri-food industry support and growth. Our vision is for Nova Scotia to be a recognized world leader in producing innovative, environmentally responsible, safe food of impeccable quality. Our mission is to support growth, transformation and economic development in Nova Scotia’s agriculture, seafood and food and beverage sectors.

Perennia has a comprehensive agriculture team of over 20 employees. Commodity specialists make up a large portion of the team, providing producers across the province with expertise and knowledge in horticulture, livestock and field crops. To complement the work done by commodity specialists, we also house a Plant Health Lab to address plant diseases, viruses and nematodes, as well as team members specializing in weed science and soil science. Our Field Research Team works with commodity specialists to deliver on-farm extension and small plot research.  

Our team’s knowledge and skillset ensures we are fully equipped to complete your agricultural research needs in Nova Scotia. We pride ourselves on performing quality research to ensure accurate results and client satisfaction. Our services section showcases examples of crops and trial types that we have worked with in the past and our project page houses some of our previous work. We would be happy to assist with your research needs.

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HOW CAN WE HELP?

We have experience performing product efficacy trials on pesticides, plant growth regulators, fertilizers and bio-stimulants as well as agronomic, fertility and variety studies for clients. We are capable of designing, establishing and executing trials and can also analyze data and create trial reports for clients. Our team has the resources to support a comprehensive list of crops and pests. Learn more about our experience, crop and pest access and equipment below.

TRIALS

CROP ACCESS

PEST ACCESS

EQUIPMENT

WHO WE ARE

Jill MacDonald, Research Associate
Jill MacDonald, Research Associate
Jill started in April 2018 as a Research Associate with Perennia. She graduated with a Bachelor of Environmental Science from Acadia University in 2014. Jill began working in Agriculture research in 2010 when she worked for a consulting company, doing small plot research. She spent several years working for a consulting company focused on nutrient management planning, waste to resource projects and large plot field crop research projects; Jill was involved extensively with soil and manure sampling for use in Nutrient Management Plans. She has experience working with fruit crops (wine grapes, strawberries, high bush blueberries, low bush blueberries), vegetable crops (corn, tomatoes, cabbage, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, okra) and field crops (wheat, corn, soybeans).
Shane Wood, Research Program Coordinator, Forage Specialist
Shane Wood, Research Program Coordinator, Forage Specialist
Shane started in July 2020 as a Research Associate with Perennia. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture and Environmental Studies with a major in Agro-Environmental Sciences at McGill University in 2014. He continued at McGill University and completed his Master’s of Science in Plant Science in 2017. Shane began working in small plot research in 2015 during his Master’s project and further expanded his experience when he joined a contract research organization (CRO) as a Research Agronomist from 2017-2020. During his time as a Research Agronomist, he worked in BC and MB and completed pesticide and product efficacy, crop variety and GLP residue trials on field crops (canola, cereals, corn, soybean, field peas, lentils, potatoes, forages, sugar beets and dry beans) and horticulture crops (tomatoes, apples, grapes, strawberries).
Jonathan Bent, Research Associate
Jonathan Bent, Research Associate
Jonathan started in March 2020 as a Research Associate with Perennia. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Agriculture) in plant sciences from Dalhousie University in 2018. Before his role of research associate, Jonathan spent two summers with Perennia assisting in the implementation of research trials in a broad range of crops. He has experience working with Field crops (Corn, Soybean, Winter Wheat, Forages) and Tree Fruit (Apples), as well as berry crops (Haskap, Strawberry) and vegetable crops (onion, sweet potato).
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OUR RESEARCH TEAM IS SUPPORTED BY THE FOLLOWING TEAM MEMBERS

Jen Haverstock
Jen HaverstockManager of Horticulture
Jonathan Wort
Jonathan WortManager of Livestock and Field Crops
Sajid Rehman
Sajid RehmanPlant Pathologist
Talia Plaskett
Talia PlaskettProtected Crop Specialist
Hugh Lyu
Hugh LyuWild Blueberry Specialist
Jay Woodworth
Jay WoodworthChristmas Tree Specialist
Kendra McClure
Kendra McClureMolecular Biologist
Sarah Wood
Sarah WoodHorticulturist (on mat leave)
Sonny Murray
Sonny MurrayBerry Specialist
Rosalie Gillis-Madden
Rosalie Gillis-MaddenVegetable Specialist (on mat leave)
Francisco Diez
Francisco DiezViticulture Specialist
Michelle Cortens
Michelle CortensTree Fruit Specialist
Caitlin Congdon
Caitlin CongdonField Crops Specialist

OUR SERVICES

Looking for something that is not listed below but is essential to satisfy your research needs? We are more than willing to collaborate and find a solution to ensure your satisfaction. Reach out to our Field Research Team to discuss your options.

TRIALS

Efficacy (pesticides/biopesticides)


Perennia has performed numerous efficacy studies for a broad range of clients on herbicides, insecticides and fungicides in different crops. We have a strong relationship with many growers in Nova Scotia, which allows us to select a site with adequate pest pressure. We have compared different rates of existing products and tested new products relative to an industry standard. For efficacy studies specific to wild blueberries, Nova Scotia is home to a large quantity of wild blueberry acreage. Perennia has ample knowledge and experience conducting efficacy studies in wild blueberry crops, making us a top candidate for your wild blueberry research  

Growth Regulator/Biostimulants


Growth regulators and biostimulants are used as a crop management tool on a variety of crops in Nova Scotia. We have tested the efficacy of growth regulator products on flower suppression in young apple trees and fruitlet thinning on bearing trees for different clients. Our experience with biostimulant research comes in many forms, such as soil drenches, root dips and foliar applications in a variety of crops.

Agronomic Practices


Perennia has performed trials considering the effects of various agronomic practices on crop production, including plant population and spacing, season extension techniques, and methods of cultural control for insect pests. By working closely with local producers, we strive to conduct work that is practical for implementation on farm.

Fertility


Perennia has executed fertility trials investigating different nutrient sources, rates and application timings on a wide range of crops. Fertility products and regimes are changing, and an increasing number of new technologies and methods are becoming available to optimize crop production and minimize environmental risk.   

Variety


Perennia has experience testing and comparing different crop varieties to determine which varieties exhibit traits that best suit growers in their local environment. Trials are monitored throughout the growing season, and assessments are performed to observe numerous factors, including, but not limited to, crop survival, pest susceptibility, yield and quality. Over the years, we have performed variety trials for many crops, and the length of investigations has lasted from a single season to over a decade.

CROP ACCESS

We are one of few areas in Canada to have access to the following crops:


  • Tree Fruits (Apple)
  • Wild (Lowbush) Blueberries
  • Wine Grapes
  • Sweet Potatoes

We can also collaborate with producers to carry out your research needs on a number of other crops:


  • Field Crops: including Cereals, Corn, Soybean and Forage crops
  • Berry Crops: including Strawberries, Brambles, Cranberries, Highbush Blueberries, Haskap
  • Vegetables: Root (Potato, Carrots) Brassicas, Bulb Vegetables, Greens

PEST ACCESS

Weeds


A large selection of grass and broadleaf weeds, both annuals and perennials, including:  

  • Sedges: Yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus)
  • Mosses (Polytrichum spp., Sphagnum spp.)
  • Perennial Grasses: Quackgrass (Agropyron repens), fescue (Festuca spp.)
  • Perennial Broadleaves: Spreading dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium), St. John’s wort (Hypericum spp.), vetches (Vicia cracca), creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens), plantains (Plantago spp.), goldenrod (Solidago spp.), hawk weed (Hieracium spp.), red sorrel (Rumex acetosella)
  • Annual Grasses: Barnyardgrass (Echinochloa crusgalli), crabgrass (Digitaire spp.), witchgrass (Panicum capillare), foxtail (Setaria spp.)
  • Annual Broadleaves: Cow wheat (Melampyrum lineare), lamb’s-quarter (Chenopodium album), pigweed (Amaranthus spp.), common groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)
  • Biennials: Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), Wild carrot (Daucus carota)

Diseases


Nova Scotia’s climate is very humid, and damp conditions that favour plant disease development can be experienced periodically throughout the growing season. We have an extensive list of plant diseases that impact our crops, including:   

  • Apple: Apple scab (Venturia inaequalis), powdery mildew (Podosphaera leucotricha), apple replant disease (root lesion nematode, Pythium, Rhizoctonia, Cylindrocarpon)
  • Grape: Grape phomopsis (Phomopsis viticola), anthracnose (Elsinoe ampelina), crown gall (Agrobacterium vitis), Botrytis
  • Wild Blueberry: Monilinia blight, mummy berry (Monilinia vaccinii-corymbosi); Botrytis blight, grey mold, (Botrytis cinerea); Septoria leaf spot (Septoria spp.); Valdensinia leaf spot (Valdensinia heterodoxa); leaf rust (Thekopsora minima); Powdery mildew (Microsphaera vaccinii).
  • Haskap: Powdery mildew, Botrytis
  • Strawberry: Angular leaf spot (Xanthomonas fragariae), anthracnose, Botrytis 
  • Raspberry: Botrytis 
  • Aliums: Downy mildew, Stemphyllium
  • Brassicas: Clubroot (Plasmodiophora brassicae
  • Carrot: Cercospora and Alternaria Leaf Blight
  • Winter Wheat: Fusarium head blight (Fusarium graminearum
  • Soybean: White mold (Sclerotinia sclerotiorum)
  • Nematodes (in select locations)

Insects


Listed below are some, but not all, of the common insect pests on Nova Scotia crops: 

  • Apple: Aphids (green apple aphid, rosy apple aphid) (Aphis pomi, Dysaphis plantaginea), codling moth (Cydia pomonella)
  • Grape: European fruit lecanium (Parthenolecanium corni), phylloxera (Daktulosphaira vitifoliae), cottony maple scale (Pulvinaria innumerabilis)
  • Wild Blueberry: Blueberry maggot (Rhagoletis mendax), blueberry flea beetle (Altica sylvia), blueberry spanworm (Itame argillacearia), spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii)
  • Strawberry: Cyclamen mite (Phytonemus pallidus), strawberry aphid (Chaetospihon fragaefolii)
  • Aliums: Leek moth (Acrolepiopsis assectella
  • Brassicas: Cabbage maggot (Delia radicum)
  • Corn: European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis), corn earworm (Helicoverpa zea)
  • Wireworms (in select crops)

EQUIPMENT

Equipment used for small plot research 


  • Hand held CO2 sprayers, backpack air assist sprayers, plot seeders, harvesters, etc.
  • Microscopes for insect and fungal identification

Technology used for small plot research 


  • ARM
  • OrchardTools App (Developed by Perennia, used for fruitlet counts, measuring fruit diameter, fruit colour category, king fruit size, and fruit size category). Capable of exporting data to Microsoft Excel.

Basic and advanced drone images


  • Phantom 4
  • Phantom 4 + Multispectral
  • AgiSoft Metashape post-image processing software (NDVI, digital elevation models)
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OUR PROJECTS

Apple Fruit Thinning for Efficiency and Quality

Further Innovations and Expansions for Nova Scotia’s Burgeoning Sweet Potato Industry 

Strawberry Aphid Monitoring and Virus Testing Program 

Maritime Corn Hybrid Performance Trial 

Terroir Study of the Wine Growing Region of Nova Scotia 

Apple Fruit Thinning for Efficiency and Quality:
Evaluate the potential of mineral oil as an enhancer of thinning agents 
 

Under the Crop and Livestock Management Trials Program, a part of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, and with contributions from the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Association, Perennia was able to conduct a two-year trial investigating the efficacy of chemical fruit thinners on Honeycrisp apples. 

Sevin XLR (carbaryl) is a commonly used thinning agent, and in March 2018, maximum allowable application rates were lowered, which meant local growers needed to consider new thinning options. The trial was initiated to determine if adding mineral oil to common thinning agents would enhance thinning under lower application rates. Perennia collaborated with a local grower to establish the trial in an existing highdensity orchard, ensuring that management practices and growing conditions were consistent with that of the commercial crop. Perennia was responsible for trial design, data collection, treatment application, harvesting fruit, assessing fruit quality, data analysis and reporting. Results will be used to update local recommendations to outline more effective chemical thinning options for the industry. 

Further Innovations and Expansions for
Nova Scotia’s Burgeoning Sweet Potato Industry
 

Under the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture Farm Innovation Program, Perennia worked with a local sweet potato grower and Horticulture Nova Scotia to carry out a number of agronomic field trials to explore and optimize the performance of this specialty crop in Nova Scotia. Perennia conducted small plot research to test the suitability of second and thirdgeneration sweet potato slips under development at the Vineland Research Station, Vineland, Ontario.

Both small plot and fieldscale trials were performed to experiment with row cover removal timing and several other agronomic parameters such as plant spacing, use of row cover and/or black plastic mulch. Perennia collaborated with the grower to establish the trials in commercial sweet potato fields, ensuring that management practices and growing conditions were consistent with that of a commercial crop. Perennia was responsible for the establishment of plots, planting varieties for variety testing, data collection on population, yield and marketability, data analysis and reporting. In addition, results were used to determine the potential for an earlier mid-September harvest to have product for the Canadian Thanksgiving market. The findings of this study can be used to determine local best management practices for this novel crop and help expand a new commodity within Nova Scotia’s horticulture industry.

 

Strawberry Aphid Monitoring and Virus Testing Program 

Perennia Food and Agriculture delivered the Strawberry Aphid Monitoring and Virus Testing Program on behalf of Horticulture Nova Scotia for berry growers in Nova Scotia. It was supported by the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture as part of the provinces virus recovery strategy following the 2012-13 strawberry virus outbreak. 

The main program objectives are to monitor primary strawberry, and bramble insect virus vectors (strawberry aphid and large raspberry aphid) across the province employing various insect capture techniques; (2) ensure nursery stock produced in the province meets the recovery strategy requirements, and; (3) conduct a late summer virus survey of all newly planted strawberry and raspberry fields to evaluate the progress of virus management efforts in the province. Various iterations of this program were run from 2013-2021. 

Maritime Corn Hybrid Performance Trial 

Corn Hybrid Performance Trials were initiated in Nova Scotia by Gerry Smeltzer in the mid 1950s and were taken over by provincial extension in 1994. Due to its limited length of growing season, the Maritimes is a challenging environment to grow corn. These trials identify hybrids that have the right combination of early maturity and high yield. Of the 25 – 30 hybrids tested every year, about 15% have inferior yield or late maturity for the region. This allows producers to focus their production on the remaining high yielding hybrids. 

Perennia organizes the seed, plot layouts, data and compiles the final report for the five Maritime locations. The trial is a randomized complete block design with three reps, and each plot is a single row, 25 feet in length. Silage is harvested with a single row chopper, weighed, and samples are dried to determine moisture content. The grain plots are hand–harvested, shelled and subsamples are weighed and dried for moisture content determination. The final report is released each year in mid-November in time for producers to make decisions on their seed purchases.

Terroir Study of the Wine Growing Region of Nova Scotia 

Perennia led the ‘Terroir Study of the wine growing region of Nova Scotia: A complete study based on the interaction of soil, climate and plant growth. This study’s main goal was to evaluate the key wine growing parameters in Nova Scotia and provide the best management techniques and tools to the grape and wine growers of the Province for our local conditions, based on scientific results and technical information. 

In the Terroir Study, Perennia collaborated with established grape growers to evaluate vineyard performance and improve their management practices for considering the final wine. It took place during three consecutive seasons (2017-2019). Fourteen different vineyards were selected based on the interaction of soil characteristics, climatic conditions and agricultural practices. 

The most planted grape varieties of Nova Scotia were selected, four interspecific hybrids and four Vitis vinifera varieties. Perennia’s team evaluated plant physiological characteristics such as percentage of budburst, determination of main phenological stages, plant growth, uptake of nutrients through soil, petiole and blade analyses, water stress measurements and fruit ripeness. Agronomic characteristics were also measured. These included plant spacing, plant density, trellis system, vineyard management (weeds, pest and disease and canopy) and yield per vine. To complement these evaluations, winemaking was performed, which made it possible to understand the process and evaluate the improvements in the vineyard. 

All this information was analyzed, reported and presented to the grape growers to demonstrate which practices can help vineyard management in the specific conditions of Nova Scotia. These results are used in publications and presentations to provide accurate support to the local wine industry. 

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