The Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference, sponsored by the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and the Georgia Peach Council, is scheduled for Jan. 5-8, 2012.

The event will be held in Savannah, Ga., at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center.

Featuring informative workshops, classes and demonstrations, the 2012 show includes three days of programs designed to bring the most up-to-date and relevant information to the fruit and vegetable industry. More than 2,300 growers and industry representatives attended in 2011.

The conference, currently in its 14th year, offers the most informative and up-to-date educational sessions available for fruit and vegetable production. During the three-day program, more than 85 hours of commodity specific production training, pest management information and marketing updates are offered to attendees.

Commodities include peach, vegetable, Vidalia onion, watermelon, muscadine, blueberry, strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, pecan, and new this year, olives. In addition to the commodity production sessions, special Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Food Safety, Organic Production and Roadside Markets sessions will be held.

A Business Operations educational track is also offered to help producers across all commodities run the day to day operations of their organizations and make sound business and marketing decisions. Continuing education credits are available.

Other special events planned for the conference include an awards program on Saturday morning where several individuals and groups will be recognized for their accomplishments and contributions to the fruit and vegetable industry.

On Sunday, an Industry Roundtable is planned for both growers and suppliers to discuss issues of mutual concern. This forum provides input for the 2012 Program of Work to be adopted by the GFVGA Board of Directors in February 2012.

The 2012 Trade Show, held in conjunction with the education sessions, offers an exciting and varied assembly of vendors and suppliers to the fruit and vegetable industry.

With more than 200 companies already committed to the conference, the 2012 Trade Show will provide attendees the opportunity to compare products, talk with industry representatives, observe demonstrations, network with other growers and learn about the latest in fresh produce technology.

Other events during the conference include a Friday night reception and live auction on the trade show floor, a Saturday night reception at the Westin Savannah Harbor and a silent auction held during the trade show.

Informative classes, demonstrations

Informative classes and demonstrations designed to bring the most up-to-date and relevant information to the fruit and vegetable industry will be offered at this year’s conference.

“We are so excited about this year's outstanding program,” says Beth Bland Oleson, education program coordinator. “We have assembled the best speakers from across the country to provide growers with the knowledge they need to stay up-to-date and competitive in today’s market. This is truly an event not to be missed.”

The conference features educational sessions for specific commodities on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Commodities include peach, vegetable, Vidalia onion, watermelon, muscadine, pecan, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, olive and strawberry. Educational sessions for organic production, food safety and roadside market will be held as well.

Thursday sessions include the Business Operations Track, Grow Your Business through Google. Designed to help producers across all commodity lines, this informative session provides will cover online marketing practices.

 Covering a wide variety of topics, some of Friday’s sessions include:

• Weather Effects on Timing of Peach Bloom;

• Buffer Zone Calculations and their Impact on Vegetable Production;

• Systems for Organic Production on Fifty Acres;

• Natural Pest & Disease Control Options for Blackberries;

• Foliar Sulfur Applications for Pecans

• FDA Regulatory Update;

• Farm to School in Georgia and South Carolina;

Saturday’s educational sessions promise to be interesting as well. A sample of topics include:

• Peach Tree Fertigation;

• Intercropping Cotton and Melons – Field Perspective;

• Onion Flavor Research;

• Fruit Characteristics for Storage of Muscadines;

• Global GAP Audit Overview;

• Water Quality and Safety Risk for "U Pick" Strawberry Operations;

Continuing education credits for pesticide application license are available for a number of the sessions on all three days.

Early bird registration is now open until Dec. 16, 2011. The best value for the conference is a four-day pass for $135.

For those only able to attend a one day of educational conferences, a one-day pass is also available for $45.

Registration and additional information is available at www.seregionalconference.com.

For more information on hotels, education sessions or to register for the 2012 SE Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference go to http://www.seregionalconference.com or call (706) 845-8200.

phollis@farmpress.com