The learning sessions will begin at 10 a.m. on Tuesday with a session onpickling cucumbers presented by Jonathan Schultheis, Billy Little and Allan Thornton from North Carolina State University.

Included in the cucumber session will be presentations on drip irrigation and mechanical harvesting by North Carolina State University specialists.

Cucurbit growers in the Southeast fight an ongoing battle with downy mildew, and University of Georgia Horticulturist David Langston will discuss management systems for controlling mildew and a number of other commonly occurring diseases in vegetable crops in the Southeast.

North Carolina State University Agriculture Economist Gary Bullen will close the opening session on Tuesday with an update on pickling cucumber enterprise budgets.

The first concurrent session on Tuesday morning will feature grafting, which some say is the future of vegetable production in the Southeast.

Grafting experts from Clemson, Virginia Tech and North Carolina State universities will discuss different areas of vegetable grafting, beginning with an overall presentation on grafting vegetables by Pennie Perkins-Veazie from North Carolina State University and Richard Hassell from Clemson University.

Researchers from North Carolina State University, in cooperation with other universities and agri-business companies, including Farm Press, recently won a large multi-year grant to study grafting of various vegetable crops.

Frank Louws, North Carolina State University will discuss the goals of the project and how it will provide economic benefits to growers.

At ll:00 a.m. during the grafting session, Josh Freeman, Virginia Tech University, will discuss some ways to integrate grafted tomatoes into commercial tomato production.

The presentation will be followed by a similar presentation on grafting of watermelons, and how it affects yield and quality, by Jonathan Schultheis, North Carolina State University and a second watermelon grafting presentation by Pennie Perkins-Veazie, also from North Carolina State University.

The third morning session on Tuesday will feature a workshop on Best Practices to Reduce Risks and Impacts in Vegetable Production, presented by Audrey Kreske and Chris Gunter from North Carolina State University.

Concurrent afternoon sessions on Tuesday will run from 2-4 p.m.

The first session will feature  the local marketing of fruit and vegetable products. The session will be led by marketing specialists Kevin Hardison from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Fred Broughton, from the South Carolina Department of Agriculture.

Presentations during this session will include: How Local Food Impacts Food Service by Matt Tunnell, from Fresh Point Raleigh, and North Carolina food distribution Company.

How retail incorporates demand for locally grown food by Dick McKellogg, from Lowes Foods.

Tunnell also will lead a session on local foods and how they currently impact the food industry and how this impact will change in the future.