Listed below is some of the information that we simply didn’t have space to print in our February 2024 edition of Country Folks Grower Midwest. We hope you find some of it useful.

 

Michigan Spring Peach Meeting set for March

The 2024 Michigan Spring Peach Meeting is the best annual meeting in Michigan and the region to learn about this crop. This will be a full-day program with both in-person and virtual options available. This meeting will cover a wide array of information about peaches and peach growing.

Register online, by mail or at the door. There is a discount for advance registration. For people attending in person, registration/socializing starts at 8 a.m. Credit cards, checks and cash will be accepted. The educational program starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m.

The in-person meeting will take place at the SW Michigan Research & Extension Center, 1791 Hillandale Rd., Benton Harbor, MI. The virtual option is via Zoom.

The meeting will focus on new peach varieties, insect and disease management, marketing strategies, chemical fruit thinning, fruit storage, tree training, clingstone peach marketing and cold hardiness. Featured speakers include Ross Williams, Titan Farms, SC; Bill Scheeringa and Kevin Lenhart of Bill’s Produce, IN; Chris Eckert of Eckert Orchards & Markets, IN; Brendon Anthony, RipeLocker, WA; Emily Lavely, Greg Lang and Bill Shane, Michigan State University; and others.

Attendees will be eligible for credits toward their recertification of their Michigan pesticide applicators license.

The registration link is simpletix.com/e/2024-michigan-peach-sponsors-spring-peach-tickets-157303.

To get a registration form for mailing, go to mipeach.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/MichiganSpringPeachMeeting2024Flyer.revised.pdf.

The deadline for online registration is March 1. The cost for virtual attendance is $30 for current Michigan Sponsor members and $35 for non-members. The cost for in person is $45 for current Michigan Sponsor members and $55 for non-members. The costs per person registering at the door is $5 more. The registration fee includes lunch and snacks.

For additional meeting information contact Conference Coordinator Dr. Bill Shane at 269.944.1477 ext. 205 or shane@msu.edu.

 

Lawn and Landscape Update Workshops scheduled

This year a series of in-person workshops are being offered across Nebraska. These workshops are specifically designed for nursery and green industry professionals, including public works employees, landscape managers, arborists, tree board volunteers and cemetery and groundskeepers: Lincoln, Feb. 7; Grand Island, Feb. 8; Columbus, Feb. 13; Beatrice, Feb. 15; Fremont, Feb. 27; Scottsbluff, March 7; and Omaha, March 14.

This year’s topics:

• Pesticide Communications – Pest control is a major component of turf and tree care. Some clients get nervous at the mention of the use of a pesticide, while others are misinformed. Knowing how to address your customers’ concerns about pesticides is essential to running a viable business. Effective messaging components and techniques will be shared.

• Fire Smart Landscaping – Wildfires were headline news in 2023, including the Lahaina, HI, fire and scores of fires across Canada. It’s comfortable to think a devastating wildfire can’t happen in your area, but it’s better to be aware of the possibility and be prepared. Learn the aspects of Fire Smart Landscaping including creating a defensible space, planning ahead for a fire event and management of the surrounding landscapes to decrease potential fire damage.

• Mulch – Beyond Basics – Applications of mulch are one of the best – and simplest – ways to improve growing conditions for plants while also improving soil quality. Let’s go beyond the basics of using mulch and take a deeper dive into the benefits of mulch, perceived problems caused by mulch and how they can be avoided and the pros and cons of different mulch products.

• Trunk Injections: Tree Biology, Techniques & Injection Systems – A growing number of tree professionals are protecting trees from disease and insect invasion, or controlling existing problems, with injectable pesticides. Learn about the pros and cons of tree injections, common products used and the best methods for application, helping you keep client trees healthy for many years to come.

To register for any of the workshops, visit go.unl.edu/ProHort.

 

SAF’s Next Gen LIVE! heads to San Diego in February

The Society of American Florists’ third annual Next Gen LIVE! conference will take place Feb. 25 – 27, 2024 in San Diego, CA. The event is created by and for the up-and-coming generation of floral professionals, ages 45 and younger.

In addition to educational sessions focused on leadership skills, technology and industry trends and challenges, attendees will take tours of flower farms in the San Diego area. Beyond the education and tours, there are other benefits to attending – or sending team members to the event.

Inspiration & Motivation – Knowing how prevalent burnout can be, Next Gen LIVE! has been the catalyst for many to get inspired and reignite their passion for their career.

“I feel rejuvenated and refreshed after attending next Gen LIVE!,” said Sarah Gillespie of Gillespie Florists in Indianapolis. “I loved learning from my peers and feel more connected than ever with my floral community.”

Investment in the Future – Sheldon Jenson of Flowers by Michelle in Las Vegas attended Next Gen LIVE! in 2022 and 2023, and claimed it helped him learn more about himself. “I feel it makes me a better manager for myself, and my employees,” he said.

Claudia Munoz, of the online flower selling platform Fresh-o-Fair, credited the event for helping her business move forward. “We discovered innovative approaches, practical solutions and newfound inspiration that will undoubtedly shape the trajectory of our business,” she said.

Floral Industry Immersion – Amber Solomon of Tillie’s Flower Shop in Wichita, KS, attended the conference as a relative newbie. “The experience at Next Gen really made me feel like I’m part of the floral industry,” she said.

“My eight months of design may not seem like much, but no one at the event made me feel new or unknowledgeable. Everyone was very welcoming and spoke to me as if I’ve been doing this for years.”

Industry Knowledge – Robert Morgalo, a senior account executive at Esmeralda Farms, doesn’t get to see much of the day-to-day operations of a retail florist. Next Gen LIVE! helped him have a new appreciation for what they do, he said.

“I have become aware of details I never really took into consideration, and I am now more equipped to assist my wholesalers to ensure they deliver above and beyond to their florists.”

The same was true for Cristina Ramos at Lovingly, a floral technology provider. “As an account manager I now can understand and relate a bit better to the struggles florists go through on a day-to-day basis,” she said.

Networking & Connections – SAF’s Next Gen group fosters a supportive community of industry professionals that stay active year-round through monthly virtual happy hours, a quarterly book club and a private Facebook page.

“[This group is] clearly excited and passionate about growing, developing and supporting each other as we learn to navigate everything this amazing and diverse industry has to offer,” said Megan Gerace of the floral marketing company GravityFree.

Registration for Next Gen LIVE! 2024 is open. See safnow.org/events-education/next-gen-live for more information.

 

Vegetable ‘Ag Ideas’ will focus on pillars of production for 2024

This year’s MI Ag Ideas to Grow With webinar series will feature a new slate of vegetable topics. We will focus on pillars of production, including individual talks on fertility/moisture management, insects, diseases, pollination and soil microorganisms. There will also be a beginning vegetable production talk that focuses on getting started.

• Feb. 19, 1 – 4 p.m. – Beginning Vegetables. Ben Phillips, vegetable specialist with Michigan State University Extension, will kick off this series and set up the rest of the topics. Vegetables are a very charismatic and multipurpose group of plants. As most of them are annuals, it’s easy to try them out as a new grower or as a new crop among other enterprises. We will discuss the types of vegetables to consider for different markets and some techniques for their production at smaller scales.

• Feb. 26, 10 – 11 a.m. – Pollinator Stewardship for Farmers, Growers & Gardeners. We all benefit from a healthy pollinator population. Farmers and growers are well positioned to support bee health because they manage large areas of land and some growers produce crops that depend on bee pollination. Ana Heck’s presentation will share programs and practices that aim to support pollinator health by judiciously using pesticides and establishing pollinator habitat.

• Feb. 27, 10 – 11 a.m. – What Do Plants Crave? Ben Phillips works with growers on the sandy soils of southwest Michigan and used to work with growers on the clay soils of east Michigan. The soils in each place play into how crops are managed. In this talk, we will discuss fertility and moisture management for high quality and high quantity vegetables across this spectrum of growing zones, including high organic matter soils like muck and pot/bag culture using greenhouse media.

• Feb. 28, 10 – 11 a.m. – What’s Wrong With My Vegetables? Salta Mambetova will present on abnormalities in vegetables. It is easy to see if a plant is not looking good, but it is much harder to tell why. The goal of this presentation is to give specific examples of vegetable abnormalities that will help identify what is wrong with your vegetable.

• Feb. 29, 10 – 11 a.m. – The World Under Our Feet: Biological Soil Health in Vegetable Production. Chris Galbraith will share about the wonders of the complex food webs that exist in the soil habitat. These interactions are characterized by an astonishing level of biodiversity that includes soil organisms such as bacteria, fungi, nematodes, arthropods, earthworms and much more. Learn about how the relationships between these lifeforms influences soil biological health and successful crop production.

• March 1, 10 – 11 a.m. – Becoming an Insect Investigator. Do you stream dramas about crime scene investigations? You can sleuth out what’s eating your vegetables by gathering evidence at the scene of the crime using the same evidence-based approach. It’s not only fun, it will also help you protect your vegetables from future issues. And avoid spending time and energy chasing the wrong culprit. Join Ben Werling for this dramatic chase!

To learn more about the MI Ag Ideas to Grow With series, go to canr.msu.edu/miagideas/Schedule.