The first-ever Deep South Fruit & Vegetable Growers Conference and Trade Show will open on Wednesday, Dec. 4, at the President Broadwater Towers Hotel and Conference Center in Biloxi, Miss. Southeast Farm Press and Delta Farm Press are sponsors of the regional meeting.

On-site registration begins at 9 a.m. on Wednesday with the trade show opening at 11 a.m. The general session begins at 1 p.m. with the following topics and speakers:

Surviving in the 21st Century, Charles Gilliam, Auburn University; Keeping the Garden in the Garden State, Kurt Alstede, Alstede Farms; Agro-Tourism, Carl Motsenbocker, Louisiana State University; Agricultural Labor in 2003 and Beyond, Dan Bremer, AgWorks; From the Farm to the School Program, Ken Wilmoth, U.S. Department of Defense; Fresh Fruits & Vegetables: Foods that Help Preserve Quality of Life — We're Radical about them, Floyd Woods, Auburn University.

A New Farmers' Program, beginning at 6 p.m., will feature Jimmy Boudreaux of Louisiana State University speaking on the topic, “Getting Started in the Vegetable Business.” This will be followed by a panel discussion of new growers.

Concurrent sessions on Thursday, Dec. 5, will cover Vegetable Production, Fruit Crops, Blueberry Production, Citrus Production, Organic Fruit and Vegetable Production and Specialty Crops. These sessions will begin at 9 a.m. and adjourn at 5 p.m.

Of particular interest to Southeastern producers will be the Vegetable Production session, featuring the following topics: Plastics for Extending the Season and Increasing Returns, Variety Preview, New Tools for Insect Management, Good Techniques for Disease Scouting and Sample Collecting for Diagnosis, Weed Management in Vegetable Crops, Commercial Production of Pumpkins and Winter Squashes, Postharvest Handling Practices for Vegetables, Economics of Production, Broiler Litter in Vegetable Production, A Virtual Tour of the Beaumont Horticultural Unit, and Ask the Experts — Roundtable on Vegetable Production.

Friday morning's schedule consists of business meetings of the following organizations: Mississippi Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, Louisiana Vegetable Growers Association, Arkansas Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, Miss-Lou Blueberrry Growers Association, Louisiana Organic Growers Association, Mississippi Organic Growers Association, Miss-Lou Blueberry Grower Cooperative and the Alabama Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association.

A feature of this year's conference will be the “Taste of the States” exhibit, showcasing foods produced in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. This will be held on Thursday evening, following the concurrent sessions.

Pre-registration for the meeting is $40 and can be completed online at www.msstate.edu/dept/cmrec/mfvga.htm. Additional registrants from the same organization or farm will be $30. Registration after Nov. 25 will be $50 and $40 respectively.

Hotel registrations can be made by calling 1-800-THE-PRES. The room rate for conference participants is $60 per night. Additional information about the conference is available from Bill Evans at (601) 892-3731 or wbe@ra.msstate.edu.