The 2020 Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention will be held Jan. 28–30 at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The convention, which caters to fruit, vegetable and berry growers as well as direct marketers, combines three days of educational sessions with a large trade show and numerous networking opportunities. About 2,200 growers, marketers and other industry personnel from the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond attend every year. The trade show hosts more than 160 exhibitors.

Educational program

The educational program covers multiple aspects of fruit, vegetable, potato, strawberry, bramble, cut flower, greenhouse and wine grape production. Six or more concurrent sessions will be offered on all three days. Many pesticide applicator update training credits will be available to growers attending the sessions.

Educational sessions will be organized by topic. Tree fruit sessions will cover calcium absorption in Honeycrisp, bitter rot, blossom thinning Golden Delicious, the brown marmorated stink bug and the samurai wasp, respirator fit-test requirements, plum curculio, protective covers, the DBR Conveyor Concepts’ harvest-assist platform, preharvest drop control of Gala, precision irrigation technologies, applicator recordkeeping, hard cider cultivars, computer vision technology, Geneva rootstocks, drones, bitter pit, apple rot, listeria in packing houses, and an entire session dedicated to fire blight, presented by Penn State University and Cornell University researchers.

Of special interest will be a tree fruit presentation called “Creating the Box: A Two-Dimensional Canopy for Apples” by Mario Miranda Sazo, a specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension. Miranda Sazo will summarize some of the new developments in orchard mechanization, discuss how to transition to an apple fruiting wall system, give practical tips to avoid mechanical pruning pitfalls, and explain why a two-dimensional canopy is a smarter choice for future technologies. More New York apple growers are adopting mechanical pruning in their orchards, and they’re converting mature three-dimensional spindle orchards to two-dimensional canopies that are more productive and uniform, Miranda Sazo said.

Stone fruit sessions will cover preharvest and postharvest handling of peaches, backpack sprayer basics, peach bacterial spot management, peach cold hardiness, flavor development, high tunnels for cherries, peach rootstocks and fruit quality.

Wine grape sessions will cover a grapevine variety trial and bird netting on Long Island, crown gall, herbicide drift, an online mapping tool, Riesling yield, spotted lanternfly, late season rots and downy mildew.

Special events

The day before the main convention opens, attendees can choose between a bus tour and a handful of preconvention workshops. The bus tour will visit several farm markets and other points of interest. The workshops will offer a full day or half day of focused instruction in a given area. Workshop topics include “Bees, Pollinators and Pollination,” for farmers growing bee-pollinated crops; “FSMA Grower Training,” for those wishing to learn more about the Food Safety Modernization Act and produce safety; and “Cultivating Leadership,” for those looking to build quality management and leadership.

The annual Mid-Atlantic Apple Cider Contest will determine the best cider in the region. The annual Fruit and Vegetable Growers Reception and Banquet will be held on Jan. 28, where awards and recognitions will be handed out. Tickets are required. On Jan. 29, there will be a 5 p.m. reception for apple growers.

For general information on the convention program, call William Troxell at 717-694-3596, or email For information on exhibiting at the convention, call Maureen Irvin at 717-677-4184, or email

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by Matt Milkovich