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Stefano Musacchi

Stefano Musacchi will be one of the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market Expo speakers. (TJ Mullinax/Good Fruit Grower)

The Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market Expo will be held December 9-11 at the DeVos Place exhibition center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Last year’s show registered 4,200 people from 42 states and eight Canadian provinces, and 425 companies exhibited in the trade show.

The educational program this year will feature several out-of-state and out-of-country speakers.

Jan Peeters, a co-owner and advisor with Fruitconsult in the Netherlands, will speak twice, once on intensive apple tree training and orchard management practices in Europe and the second time on sweet cherry production practices, ­including fertilization, pruning decisions, and brown rot control strategies.

Stefano Musacchi, the Italian ­horticulturist who has joined Washington State University, will compare and contrast orchard management trends in Italy and Washington State in one talk. In another, he switches to sweet cherries to talk about tree training, management, and performance comparisons of super slender axe and bi-axis sweet cherry orchards.

Peeters and Musacchi will participate with Michigan State University’s Greg Lang in a panel discussion on growing high quality sweet cherries. Lang is involved in a long-term study comparing four sweet cherry training systems—upright fruiting offshoots, super slender axe, tall spindle axe, and Kym Green bush.

Rod Farrow, from Lamont Fruit Farm in Waterport, New York, will talk about precision apple production.

Dr. Susan Brown, the Cornell University apple breeder from New York, will describe the apple breeding program there, the genetics being used and varieties being developed. She will also participate in the annual Variety Showcase, where a ­hundred apple cultivars and strains, new and old, are exhibited for tasting, while experts describe their qualities.

Grapes

In the wine grape sessions, after the disastrous winter of 2013 wiped out so many vinifera vines in the eastern United States, two talks will focus on weather and climate. Paolo Sabbatini, with the MSU hort department, will address viticulture management changes needed to address changing climate. MSU’s Tom Zabadal will talk about protecting vines from winter injury.

Eastern peaches, too, were damaged by the intense cold of the 2013 winter. ­Michigan State University peach breeder Bill Shane will address cold hardiness, and also disease resistance, in old and new peach varieties.

Ed Bailey, from Northwestern Michigan College, will talk about viticultural applications of unmanned systems—robots that prune vines or fly to monitor or spray.

Anne Nielsen, Rutgers University, one of the first entomologists to study brown marmorated stinkbug when it arrived in the United States, will talk about how to manage the bug and not abandon integrated pest management practices.

At several sessions, there will be presentations about the new Michigan Tree Fruit Commission. It was approved by grower vote last March and began collecting funds on the 2014 apple, cherry, peach, and plum crops. The primary purpose is to provide ­infrastructure ­maintenance at Michigan’s four fruit experiment stations. It will raise nearly $800,000 from growers this year.

Staff from the editorial and advertising departments of Good Fruit Grower will be at the show. •