Thursday, December 23, 2010

Great Plains Grower’s Conference

One of the premier conferences for fruit and vegetable growers is found right here in northwest Missouri. Held in St. Joseph, Missouri, the Great Plains Grower’s Conference is put together every year by Extension educators from five states: Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota. The conference will be held next month on January 6-8, 2011.

This conference is open to everyone, from backyard gardeners to commercial produce growers. Topics cover not only vegetables, but also tree fruits, small fruits and flowers. There are also presentations targeted toward organic growers.

The event begins with workshops on Thursday. You may choose from workshops exploring the use of high tunnels in vegetable and fruit production. A second pre-conference workshop looks at a popular method of marketing known as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

Perhaps you are looking for ways to improve your farming operation? Pick the workshop “Farm smarter, not harder”. Finally, we will have a workshop targeted towards orchard producers.

The main conference begins on Friday. There are four concurrent tracks to choose from, so there is usually something of interest for everyone.

Some of the tracks include organics, small fruits, vegetable diseases, orchards, agritourism, irrigation, cut flowers, farmer’s markets, and more.

Many of the talks are given by university researchers, and discuss the latest studies on vegetable management, diseases, cultivar selection, and similar topics.

Other talks are presented by successful farmers, who share their stories in the hopes that they can benefit another grower. These talks are always followed by many questions from farmers who are looking for practical advice, and experienced farmers such as these will have a lot to share.

There will be many exhibitors available to provide information about seeds, irrigation, horticulture equipment, chemicals, and other topics. Meals, break refreshments, and handouts will be included in the registration fee for the main conference.

The conference will be held on the campus of Missouri Western State University. For more information about the conference and a registration form, call the Buchanan County Extension office at (816) 279-1691. You may also register on-line and find additional information on our web site.
(By Tim Baker, Northwest Region Horticulture Specialist)

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