Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Bees and more at the Great Plains Growers Conference

In a little over one month, it will be time for the Great Plains Growers Conference. This is one of the premier conferences for horticulture producers, and it 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 on January 7-9, 2016. This will be our 20th annual conference.

This is an exciting conference for anyone growing horticultural crops, with many new ideas presented from growers, researchers, and Extension specialists. The 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.  Attendees choose a workshop when they register.  Each workshop explores a topic in-depth.

Workshops this year will include topics such as greenhouse & hydroponic production, tree fruits, cover crops & soil health, advanced beekeeping, scaling up your horticultural enterprise, and mushrooms. I will have more details in my next column on the mushroom workshop.

I have been organizing the beekeeping sessions again this year. The Thursday workshop on beekeeping will bring in Dr. Larry Connor.  Dr. Connor has a wide background, including extension apicultural entomologist at The Ohio State University, establishing the Beekeeping Education Service, and finally purchasing Wicwas Press, a major publisher of books on beekeeping.  Dr. Connor is also an accomplished author, with over a dozen titles dealing with bees, beekeeping, queen rearing and pollination.

Dr. Connor will be discussing several topics, including problem recognition with bees, queen management in hives, queen rearing, and plants attractive to bees for nectar and pollen.

The main conference occurs on Friday and Saturday. Before starting the concurrent tracks, we will hear from our keynote speaker, Anthony Flaccavento.  Anthony is an organic farmer from Virginia.  You can read more about him on our conference web site, noted below.

After the keynote, there will be five concurrent tracks to choose from. Topics for this year’s tracks include Market Ready, Tree Fruit, Beginning Organic, Vegetable IPM, and a “mixed bag” track covering technology, equipment, and irrigation.

On Saturday, concurrent sessions include Small Fruit, Advanced Organic, Vegetable Production, Cut Flowers, and Food Safety/GAPS.

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 at:
(by Tim Baker, MU Extension Horticulture Specialist)

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