November 15, 2002 | By: Aimee D. Heald

Fruit and vegetable production is gaining popularity in Kentucky. Recent statistics show annual vegetable receipts of around $40 million and fruit receipts of around $13 million in the Commonwealth. Combined land area of fruit and vegetable operations equal more than 17,000 acres.

The 2003 Fruit and Vegetable Conference in cooperation with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Kentucky State University and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture will give fruit and vegetable growers opportunities to share and learn.

UK Horticulture Specialist and conference coordinator John Strang said conference highlights include commercial fruit and vegetable production, tree fruit integrated pest management, cooperative marketing, greenhouses, farmers markets, organic farming and gardening, as well as a grape and wine short course.

"We're offering a wide variety of information because of the broad range of horticultural involvement by our participants," Strang said. "We want to equip them with the knowledge and tools they need to be successful in their chosen part of the industry."

The January 6 and 7 conference at the Holiday Inn North in Lexington will feature several industry professionals who will lead informative sessions on each conference topic. Participants also can attend a trade show that showcases businesses, producers and sponsoring organizations.

"Richard Matthews from the National Organic Program in Washington D.C. will be at the conference to address questions about organic production," Strang said. "There has been a lot of confusion lately about what is organic and what is not; he will clear that up."

The grape growers are bringing in Tom Zabadal from Michigan State University, who is an authority on grape culture and winter hardiness.

Strang said participants will hear results of recent UK variety trials and research, as well as updates on insects, diseases and weed control.

"Fruit and vegetable growers will also want to hear about the latest in deer control, tree row volume spraying and tomato stink bug control," he said.

A $25 per household registration fee is due by December 13 and includes membership in Kentucky Vegetable Grower's Association or the Kentucky State Horticultural Society. The fee also will cover the Grape and Wine Short Course. The conference is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. (EST) both days and will conclude at 3 p.m on January 7.

Banquet and luncheon tickets can only be purchased in advance, so participants are urged to send in those amounts with their registration materials.

Make checks payable to Kentucky Horticulture Society and return registration materials by December 13 to Mary Ann Kelley, UK Research and Education Center, P.O. Box 469, Princeton, Ky. 42445-0469.

Annual meetings of KSHS and KVGA also are scheduled to occur during the conference. Strang mentioned there will once again be a pre-conference round table discussion January 5 on fruit production from 8 to 10 p.m.

For more information, download the conference agenda and registration forms on the web at: contact your county Extension office.



John Strang  859-257-5685