The Alabama Fruit and Vegetable Conference will be Friday, Feb. 7 at the Ham Wilson Arena and Saturday, Feb. 8 at the Marriott Opelika Hotel and Conference Center in Opelika, Ala.  Organized by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the Alabama Fruit and Vegetable Association, this conference is the premier educational conference for the state’s fruit and vegetable growers. 

Ayanava Majumdar, leader of Alabama Extension’s Commercial Horticulture Team, says vegetable, fruit and nut production are an important part of the state’s economy.

 “Consumers are hearing the message that purchasing locally grown fruits and vegetables can mean better quality,” says Majumdar.   “As a result of the increased demand for buying local, we are seeing more people producing fruits and vegetables that can be purchased locally here in Alabama.  It is perhaps the fastest growing agriculture industry in Alabama.”

AFVGA President Jimmy Witt says growers with all levels of experience will find topics beneficial to their operations at the two-day event.   Cost for the two-day conference is $80 for individuals and $250 for exhibitors.  The registration fee includes supper on Friday night.  For more information, visit the Alabama Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association website.

Friday morning, concurrent educational sessions will be held at the Ham Wilson Arena and will cover a variety of topics including high tunnel crop production, fruit and vegetable grafting, weed control, fumigation alternatives, no-till vegetable production, marketing the farm and pest management strategies in strawberry production. 

Also on Friday morning, there will be field tours looking at irrigation systems, soil moisture detectors, fire ant control, insect monitoring systems, conservation tillage and sprayer calibration.  Friday registration begins at 7:30 a.m.

All conference events on Friday afternoon and Saturday will be at the Marriott Opelika Hotel and Conference Center in Opelika.  Workshop sessions on Friday include multiple tracks such as fruit and vegetable pest management updates, food safety, soil and water quality and pesticide safety.  On Saturday, producers can learn more about sustainable gardening practices and citrus production.

“These workshops will be presented by Extension professionals, researchers and producers,” says Witt.  “Of special interest on Saturday morning will be the session track for new and beginning farmers.”