Windsor

Experimental farm in Chatham-Kent celebrates its first harvest

The Ontario FangZheng Agriculture Enterprise celebrated a milestone Friday, with producers harvesting the farm's first crop of medium-grain sticky rice. 

The Ontario FangZheng Agriculture Enterprise has harvested its crop of medium-grain rice

Farm manager Wendy Zhang stands in front of a rice transplanter, imported from China, for use on the experimental rice crop. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

The Ontario FangZheng Agriculture Enterprise celebrated a milestone Friday, with producers harvesting the farm's first crop of medium-grain sticky rice. 

Farm manager Wendy Zhang said the experiment was a success, describing the harvested rice as "perfect."

"We didn't get any disease or pest problem this year," she said. "The yield should be good — not excellent — because we still do not apply too much fertilizer."

FangZheng relied on equipment supplied in part by Tri-Hark Farms to harvest the rice crop.

Jim Hawkins, co-owner of Tri-Hawk Farms, said the rice crop looks promising. 

John Zandstra is a professor at the University of Guelph's Ridgetown Campus and is involved in the project. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

Despite the farm's successful harvest, John Zandstra, a professor of fruit and vegetable cropping systems at the University of Guelph's Ridgetown campus, explained that there's still quite a bit of work ahead for the initiative. 

New rice varieties, different planting methods, as well as different crop management strategies are all part of FangZheng's plans for future experiments.

"We have to get an idea of pest pressure as well," said Zandstra, referring to potential concerns about pest control. "We did not notice anything this year, not to say it won't happen."

Zandstra said it's not uncommon for new crops to deal with few pests in the first year of planting. 

"I suspect there'll be something out there that'll bother it," he said. "It's a cereal crop, like a lot of other crops that we grow, so something [will likely] come out of the woodwork eventually."

FangZheng currently occupies a single hectare, but Zhang said the goal is to grow at least 70 hectares of rice next year. 

With files from Dale Molnar

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