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Conference for Entrepreneurs

Eric Villagas, award-winning chef and host of the Public Broadcasting Service’s television show Fork in the Road, will be the keynote speaker at Making it in Michigan, a conference presented by Michigan State University’s Product Center for Agriculture and Natural Resources. The conference will take place on November 13 at the Lansing Center in Lansing, Michigan, and will provide information, inspiration, and networking opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs. Educational presentations will focus on such topics as food labeling, online marketing, business planning, local zoning, and consumer health and wellness trends.

For more information, check the Web site at www .makingitinmichigan.msu.edu. Registration costs $75.

Fruit Logistica, FreshConex

Fruit Logistica, a leading trade fair for the international fresh produce sector, will sponsor six seminars during the annual conference, February 4–6, to discuss current industry and marketing trends. The seminars, simultaneously interpreted in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish, include: the battle of the retail formats—how will it end; Chile, an importer with tradition and vision; Poland, the next big player in Europe; carbon dioxide and the cost of energy—the challenge for the fruit trade; the European consumer—the unknown quantity; and, innovation in the fresh produce business.

On February 4, the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations will address the topic "Fresh produce trade with Romania and Bulgaria—results after two years of European Union membership." The event is directed towards German produce companies.

FreshConex, an international trade show for the fresh-cut produce industry, runs parallel to Fruit Logistica, with passes valid at both trade shows.

For information, visit www.fruitlogistica.com.

Future of Grapes

Washington State’s grape leaders will look ahead during the annual meeting of the Washington State Grape Society, as industry notables come together to share economic and research trends, a national perspective of the industry, and their visions for the future.

Also, Washington State University scientists will discuss the latest research on nitrogen management, grape diseases, insect control, use of autonomous sprayers for targeted pest control, and how to save money and energy on pest control. Guest speaker Vaughn Walton from Oregon State University will talk about movement of grapevine leafroll virus through vineyards. Dominic Zamora of LeMaster Daniels will share exit strategies for an aging industry.

The two-day event, which includes a trade show, will be held November 20-21 at the Church of the Nazarene in Grandview. For registration information, call (509) 786-7888 or visit their Web site at www.grapesociety.org/annualmeeting.html.


Global Food Expert at Hort Forum

Global food industry expert Dr. David Hughes, a professor of food marketing at Imperial, College, London, will discuss marketing strategies during the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association Horticultural Forum on November 8.

Hughes will talk about how to earn premium prices for premium products in the face of tough commodity competition.

Hughes has worked in Europe, North America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Southeast Asia. He works with food and beverage firms on business strategy development and with governments to formulate food policy.

Glen Lucas, general manager of the BCFGA, said he hopes that Hughes will help B.C. growers identify which consumer groups they should try to reach. He noted that British Columbia apple growers produce a small fraction of the volume of neighboring Washington State, and need different marketing strategies. "We need to specialize a –little more," he said.

Also during the Hort Forum, Del Feigal, manager of Auvil Fruit Company orchards at Vantage, Washington, will talk about horticultural management practices.

Feigal and Jim Campbell, tree fruit specialist with the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, will also discuss new variety decisions.

During the afternoon, workshops will be presented on the apple clearwing moth; pruning and growth regulators; new pest management technology; pesticide safety; and irrigation scheduling.

The Hort Forum will take place at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre. For information, contact the BCFGA at (250) 762-5226, e-mail info@bcfga.com, or check the Web site at www.bcfga.com.

Great Lakes Expo features irrigation workshop

A warming climate and a shift towards fresh-market production is making irrigation a necessity in Michigan orchards, says Dr. Ron Perry, horticulturist at Michigan State University.

During the past three years, Michigan has experienced drought conditions that have put some trees under stress, he said. This can result in fruit that is smaller than desirable for the fresh market, but it can also negatively affect flowering, fruit set, and yield the following season. In addition, stressed trees are more vulnerable to winter damage.

Perry has helped organize a two-day irrigation workshop that will be held on December 11 and 12, in conjunction with the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, and Farm Market Expo in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The workshop will focus on the design and use of microsprinklers and drip systems. Presenter Dr. Stuart Styles, from the Irrigation Training and Research Center at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, will discuss irrigation design, equipment, scheduling, maintenance, fertigation, injection, and filtration systems.

Southwestern Michigan receives about 36 inches of annual precipitation, while northern fruit growing areas receive between 25 and 28 inches, according to Perry. Traditionally, few Michigan orchards have been irrigated. Irrigation was less critical for traditional plantings with big trees, but many apple growers have replanted at high densities, using dwarfing rootstocks. These intensive plantings need to be irrigated because the smaller rootstocks have more concentrated root systems that are less efficient at picking up moisture from the soil.

In the past, two-thirds of Michigan’s apple crop was processed, Perry said, but there’s been a recent shift towards the fresh market, reinforcing the need for irrigation to produce good fruit quality and size. Perry expects the trend towards fresh production to continue.

The same applies to cherries grown in northern Michigan, where the soils are coarse and sandy. Cherry trees, particularly those on Gisela rootstocks, need plenty of water to produce the large-sized cherries required for the fresh market and to receive an adequate return.

Even peach growers in southwest Michigan should have irrigation systems, Perry suggested. Often, growers apply water with a gun to save money, but unless they irrigate adequately, the trees won’t produce the size of fruit the market requires.

Even when growers have irrigation systems, they don’t always apply enough water to meet the needs of their trees, Perry said. "They feel that because we have a cool climate, we should not have to put much water on. Often, what I see is they’re underirrigating."

Some growers believe that mulching can substitute for irrigation, but Perry said that in his experience mulch is rarely adequate in dry conditions. "In the last few years, we’ve been working through a little more heat and possibly global warming. I think we’re seeing a little more demand on the trees, and we really need to irrigate, rather than mulch."

Irrigation is also important in wine grapes, he said, despite the dogma that a stressed vine produces high-quality grapes and wine. Drought stress can lead to –atypical aging and off flavors in white wines.

Perry said Styles is an expert on the design and use of fruit irrigation systems and an outstanding workshop presenter. The cost of the workshop is $100 for Expo attendees and is limited to the first 100 people who sign up.

The Great Lakes Expo features three days of educational sessions, beginning on December 9. Other tree fruit topics include: food-safety audits; implications of the Farm Bill; fruit thinning and return bloom in apples; cherry and stone fruit production; farm marketing; organic tree fruit production and marketing; and how to use the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA). Sessions on wine grapes include a winemaking –workshop.

Special events during the Expo include: a fruit variety showcase, a cider contest, the Industry Outlook Luncheon, and the awards banquet featuring inspirational speaker Chad Hymas, who is a wheelchair athlete.

IFTA in Germany

Orchardists and nursery representatives from around the world will meet in Germany early next year for the International Fruit Tree Association’s annual meeting. The conference includes two days of technical and cultural tours, two days of educational seminars featuring the latest research, and one day at the trade shows Fruit Logistica and FreshConex. During the technical tours, participants will learn about the structure of Germany’s tree fruit industry and integrated fruit production. A cultural tour includes the Berlin Wall on the twentieth anniversary of its fall. Germany, the largest economy in Europe and the third largest in the world, is one of the leading apple producers in the European Union.

Optional pre and postconference study tours include visits to the Slovak Republic, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Germany from January 23–30 and to Poland from February 5–7. The preconference tour will focus on horticultural innovations and research with visits to breeding programs and integrated orchard operations. The postconference tour will highlight the dramatic changes going on in Poland’s fruit production, such as higher density orchards, planting new varieties, and improvements in infrastructure and marketing that have occurred since Poland joined the European Union in 2004.

For more information about the annual meeting and study tours, visit IFTA’s Web site at: www.ifruittree.org.

Making Cider

International cidermaking expert Dr. Peter Mitchell of Mitchell Food and Drink, Ltd., in the United Kingdom, will teach a cidermakers shortcourse at Cornell University in Geneva, New York, December 1-4. The cost is $800. For information, contact Nancy Long at (315) 787-2288, e-mail npl1@nysaes.cornell.edu.

Research Reviews

The Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission has scheduled the following research reviews:

  • Northwest Cherry Research Review co-presented by the Oregon Sweet Cherry Commission and the California Cherry Advisory Board. November 13-14 at the Best Western Hood River Inn, Hood River, Oregon.
  • Stone Fruit Research Review. Snipes Mountain Brewery and Restaurant, Sunnyside, Washington.
  • Apple Research Review. January 21-23 at the Holiday Inn Express at the Trade, Recreation and Agriculture Center, Pasco, Washington.
  • Northwest Pear Research Review. February 12-13 at the Best Western Hood River Inn, Hood River, Oregon.

    No registration is required. Pesticide credits may be available. For more information call Kathy Schmidt at (509) 665-8271, ext. 2.