The 2020 Empire State Producers Expo will be held Jan. 14–16 at The Oncenter Convention Center in Syracuse, New York. The expo, which caters to fruit and vegetable growers in New York state and beyond, typically attracts about 1,000 attendees, and its trade show hosts about 200 vendors. Networking events will be held at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown, located across the street from The Oncenter.

Educational program

The educational program covers multiple aspects of fruit and vegetable production. Tree fruit sessions will focus on long-term orchard planning, including succession strategies and planning investments in a rapidly changing marketplace; applying new technologies to Midwestern and Eastern apple systems; understanding physiological principles; high-density pears; using netting to reduce apple thinning; and listeria on apples in storage.

Of particular interest will be “Bitter pit comes of age at 150: A review of what we know and what it means for Honeycrisp and other sensitive varieties,” from Michigan State University Professor Randy Beaudry. Since bitter pit was first described in 1869, researchers have accomplished neither a complete understanding nor complete control of the disorder, but they’re getting closer, Beaudry said.

Beaudry’s presentation will focus on the discovery and description of bitter pit, fruit physiology, the distribution of calcium and other minerals in apple, the sequence of physiological and physical events leading to formation of the disorder, and it will conclude with thoughts on where to go from here.

An entire tree fruit IPM session will be devoted to fire blight, including management in young high-density orchards; managing blossom and shoot blight; and host susceptibility levels and rootstock traits. An organic tree fruit session will focus on orchard weed management and its implications for soil health. A hard cider session will focus on mechanical harvesters, red-juice cultivars for cider production and strategies for managing yeast assimilable nitrogen in the orchard.

Special events

The Empire State Producers Expo will be preceded by the Becker Forum on Jan. 13, a daylong forum that typically focuses on agricultural workforce issues. The Becker Forum will be held at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown.

From Jan. 17–19, immediately after the expo, the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York will hold its winter conference, also at The Oncenter. Focused on organic production, the winter conference attracts more than 1,100 attendees annually, with about 80 trade show vendors. •