BC produced nearly 15 million pounds of raspberries last year with an average farmgate value of $1.13 a pound.
Now, researchers are hoping to pin a value on specific traits — such as size, colour and flavour — to figure out which cultivars have the best chance of boosting returns to growers.
“There’s a whole long list of things you want in any variety, but you can’t have all of them so you need some way to prioritize,” says Michael Dossett, a research scientist at the Agassiz Research and Development Centre who oversees berry breeding in the province. “This will allow us to come up with an estimated economic value for everything.”
Officially known as “Economic Tools in Innovation in Raspberry Breeding,” the project received $38,500 on May 29 in the form of an agricultural enhancement grant from the Abbotsford Community Foundation. The grants are funded through an endowment fund the city of Abbotsford established in 2011 to offset the impacts of industrial development on the city’s agricultural land.
The award was made to the Lower Mainland Horticultural Improvement Association, which administers funding for raspberry variety development on behalf of the Raspberry Industry Development Council.
“We’ll be leveraging what we’re already doing as part of the breeding program,” says Dossett.
The grant will pay for an agricultural economist to determine values for each raspberry trait and develop formulas that allow breeders to better understand the value proposition a given selection offers growers.
“We’ll be able to take any given selection and estimate the economic value and then rank them that way,” explains Dossett.
Abbotsford Community Foundation executive director Wendy Neufeld says the 2020 grant program focused on innovation. Technologies that demonstrate an environmental and sustainability component were favoured.
This year’s grant program offered $130,000 for agricultural enhancement projects. Just one other project was selected, however, for total disbursements of $88,500. Eleos Robotics Inc. of Surrey received $50,000 for its weed-killing robot, RoboWeeder, which controls weeds without chemicals.