Oct 23, 2019
The latest in vine crop, sweet corn, tomato and pepper research at 2019 Great Lakes EXPO

New sessions in tomatoes, peppers, vine crops and sweet corn at this year’s Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO will add depth to the educational line-up; these sessions take a new look at these crops, including new research, methods and information that growers can’t miss.

Timothy Coolong of the University of Georgia was an Extension agent until recently, and he will bring his experience working with growers in the region to this year’s EXPO educational line-up. As an expert in horticulture working specifically with organic vegetable production, Coolong will bring information that growers of crops such as tomatoes and peppers need to know.

Coolong’s session is geared toward commercial vegetable producers and introduces new ways in which those growers can increase success rates and improve quality without adding time or materials through new transplantation processes.

Included will be details about water quality, fertilization regimes and planting tray cell sizes, all of which will improve the transplantation process. While he primarily works with growers in the southeast, much of the research he has done can be applied to growing in any region.

Derrill Kregel, a product manager for sweet corn and pumpkins at Rispens Seed, will discuss new information in sweet corn. “We’ll highlight what’s new in genetics and things that are right on the horizon and some new things with regards to insect resistance and herbicide tolerances,” Kregel said.

The research he will discuss will be important for both those who bring sweet corn to farm markets and roadside stands as well as to bigger producers. “We’ve got a really good sweet corn trial pot this year. I’m looking forward to harvesting that data and sharing that with our growers,” Kregel said.

The third session of note – on vine crops – will be presented by several people, including Ben Phillips of Michigan State University Extension.

At this session, growers can look forward to important information from Dan Egel on vine crop diseases. Egel is part of the Botany and Plant Pathology department at Purdue’s College of Agriculture. As an academic and researcher who primarily acts as an Extension agent, Egel researches diseases and conducts fungicide trials, all including organic products, tailoring his research to the needs of growers in his area.

Additionally, the session will include information on the perishable commodities act, and Julie Dawson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison will discuss variety trials. “I’m really excited for Dawson’s talk,” Phillips said. “She measures the horticultural information and then takes it up a notch, collaborating with kitchens and chefs to do sensory evaluations with the produce,” he said.

Any growers who produce pumpkins, squash and melons will benefit from this vine crops session, especially with the details about the legislation on the perishable commodities act. The protections growers will have under the new legislation will be a highlight to this year’s EXPO.

“There are certain provisions that put the buyer or the broker or the transportation company in the hot seat for things that the grower doesn’t have to assume the complete loss for a reject, when it could’ve been other links in the chain,” Phillips said. The details will benefit any grower – not just those who work primarily with vine crops.

Phillips will also lead other sessions at the EXPO, including one on cut flowers that can help vegetable growers expand their farm market lineup.

For Kregel, educational opportunities for growers at this year’s EXPO are what excites him the most. “I think the entire EXPO program is very educational, and I think you can learn things at the EXPO which would benefit you and save you from learning those things by trial and error,” he said.

To learn more about the educational opportunities at the 2019 Great Lakes EXPO and see the whole line-up, visit https://glexpo.com/.


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