2021 Fruit and Vegetable Conference takes on new format in January

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The annual Fruit and Vegetable Conference, the premier event for Kentucky produce growers, is always well-attended. Despite the pandemic, organizers are determined to maintain the conference’s high quality that attracts growers from all over the state. For the first time, organizers will offer the conference through the social conferencing platform Zoom from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. EST each Tuesday in January.

“Growers expect the most up-to-date information from the Fruit and Vegetable Conference, and this year will be no different,” said Rachel Rudolph, extension vegetable specialist in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “Because we want to abide by all guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, a virtual conference is the safest way to reach growers in the state. Growers will still be able to access the best information regarding production, management, business and marketing aspects of their operations. A silver lining to the virtual conference is that all sessions will be recorded, so conference participants can go back and listen to the content later.”

More than 50 educational sessions will be offered over four days. A lineup of more than 45 speakers that includes specialty crop growers, specialists from the University of Kentucky, Kentucky State University and other institutions, and representatives from other organizations will cover protected agriculture, organic production, beginner and advanced vegetable production, beginner and advanced fruit production and business management topics. Out-of-state speakers will include David Doud, board chairperson of Midwest Apple Improvement Association and David Doud’s Countryline Orchard in Wabash, Indiana; Dave Lockwood and Annette Wszelaki, University of Tennessee extension fruit and vegetable specialists, respectively.

The program will include sessions on crops and production systems, a virtual wine-tasting and a farmers market short course. Many sessions will offer credits for Kentucky pesticide applicators.

Overall topics include:

Tuesday, Jan. 5 - General Session, Protected Ag Technologies

Tuesday, Jan. 12 - Organic Production, Beginning Vegetable Production

Tuesday, Jan. 19 - Advanced Fruit Production, Business Management

Tuesday, Jan. 26 - Advanced Vegetable Production, Beginning Fruit Production

All participants should register online via Eventbrite, https://bit.ly/36lb7gi, or by mailing a physical copy of the registration form, which can be found at https://bit.ly/2JyPyAc. Deadline for mail-in registration is Dec. 18. The $25 conference fee allows entry to all educational sessions and access to the recorded sessions after the conference. Organizers will email a Zoom link to registrants to join the conference from the location of their choice. Some county extension offices are livestreaming the sessions in their meeting rooms. Contact the local county extension office for more information.

Registration includes a one-year membership in the Kentucky Vegetable Growers Association, Kentucky State Horticulture Society or the Organic Association of Kentucky and access to the virtual wine and cider tasting and farmers market short course.

The conference is a joint meeting of the Kentucky State Horticulture Society, the Kentucky Vegetable Growers Association, the Organic Association of Kentucky, the Kentucky Wineries Association, and the Kentucky Horticulture Council, in cooperation with the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Kentucky State University College of Agriculture, Communities and the Sciences, and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

For meeting registration and conference details including the conference program, visit the meeting webpage, https://kyhortcouncil.org/2021-ky-fruit-vegetable-conference/.

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