December 5, 2007 | By: Aimee Nielson

Horticulture in Kentucky continues to be big business. After a difficult 2007, including a late freeze and extreme drought conditions, Kentucky’s fruit and vegetable growers are looking forward to better growing conditions in 2008. Fruit and vegetable growers will have an opportunity to hone their skills at a joint meeting of the Kentucky State Horticultural Society, the Kentucky Vegetable Growers Association, the Kentucky Farmers’ Market Association and the Kentucky Grape and Wine Short Course, Jan. 6-8 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Lexington.

Highlights of the January meeting include sessions on farmers’ markets, commercial fruit and vegetable production, small fruit production, organic farming and gardening, the grape and wine short course, winemaking, business management and marketing, and a “Good Agricultural and Handling Practices” workshop.

“Success with fruit and vegetables is most always based on a producer’s management skills, especially being able to do things on time,” said John Strang, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture horticulture specialist. “This conference is for beginners and experienced growers alike. We think we have something to share with everyone, no matter how steep their learning curve.”

Concurrent sessions will take place throughout the event covering many aspects of fruit and vegetable production, including commercial tree fruit, drip irrigation, winemaking and farmers’ markets. 

Fruit and vegetable experts from across the United States will speak to joint conference sessions Jan. 7. Special out-of-state speakers include: Wayne Wilcox, research and extension fruit pathologist at Cornell University; Jeff Kindhart, senior research specialist at the Dixon Springs Agricultural Center in Simpson, Ill.; Annette Wszelaki, extension vegetable specialist, plant and soil science department at the University of Tennessee; Donna Winchell, Ohio Grape and Wine Industries; Michael Schmidt, Spec Trellising, Ivyland, Pa. ; Dave Lockwood, extension fruit specialist at the University of Tennessee and Read Jordon of the Risk Management Agency in Flowood, Miss.

Kentucky vineyard numbers have grown to more than 206 in 2007. Kentucky boasts close to 700 acres of wine grapes with more acreage planned for future production. 

The Kentucky Vineyard Society will have an optional Celebration of Kentucky Wines featuring Kentucky wines prior to the banquet. Jimmy Henning, director of UK Cooperative Extension, will present the College of Agriculture Vision for the Future and the UK Jazz Cats will provide musical entertainment. This year the Kentucky Vineyard Society will host the inaugural Vintners’ Dinner on the evening of Jan. 8 where nine Kentucky wines will be matched with the food courses.

Conference registration is $20 and includes a one-year membership in the KVGA or KSHS and entry into the Grape and Wine Short Course. Banquet and luncheon tickets are only available with advanced registration by Dec. 19. The conference is jointly sponsored by the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, Kentucky State University and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

For more information about the conference, or to request registration materials, contact Mary Ann Kelley 270-365-7541, ext. 216. The conference program is available online at the following address,


John Strang, 859-257-5685