Consultations opened October 29 on new federal grade standards that could shorten the length of some Canada No. 1 cucumbers.
While individually packaged long seedless cucumbers will still need to be a minimum of 11 inches to qualify as Canada No. 1, those sold by the dozen can max out a half inch shorter than at present.
Changes are also proposed for Canada No. 2 and Canada Utility cucumbers.
In addition, mini cucumbers, which have enjoyed strong sales in recent years, are getting a standard of their own. Formerly, mini cucumbers had to be at least three inches long; now they can be shorter, if indicated as such on the package. BC’s cucumber harvest is worth $37 million annually, or approximately 12% of the province’s total greenhouse vegetable production.
The standards for greenhouse tomatoes are also under review, and provide detailed definitions of firmness and maturity. A firm-ripe tomato will have at least 75% of its surface area either pink or red, while a mature tomato will be “well filled out” with “a feeling of springiness and pliability when pressure is applied.”
Should the new standards be approved, BC growers selling prepackaged tomatoes will need to take care that “not less than 75%, by count, of the tomatoes in a lot are mature.”
The consultation on the new standards ends December 31.
The changes come at the request of industry, which has asked the federal government “to modernize and harmonize existing grade requirements relating to the quality of fresh fruits and vegetables and to introduce new grade standards for certain commodities.”
An additional four consultations, each lasting 60 days, will consider grading standards for 28 other crops. Tree fruits will dominate the next consultation, set to begin in the new year.