Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

December 14, 2013

Ag Forum: Farm Expo links ag experts

TRAVERSE CITY — More than 200 crops call Michigan home.

This incredible spectrum of produce places Michigan second only to California in crop diversity. Managing this wide array of crops in Michigan’s varied climate calls for the latest in research and technology. This week, nearly 4,000 specialty fruit and vegetable growers from 42 states and seven Canadian provinces gathered in Grand Rapids for the Great Lakes Farm Expo.

“It’s a great way to connect agriculture experts to local growers and provide them with the tools to implement on their farm operations,” said Michigan State University Extension Educator Emily Pochubay.

The three-day event offered 75 educational sessions led by agriculture experts on topics ranging from labor issues, farm marketing, MAEAP verification, soil health, updates on disease control in fruit and veggie crops, and advances in agriculture technology. Techniques such as hoop houses, high tunnels, and high-density orchard systems were all explored. These and other technologies will prove critical for advancing Michigan agriculture in the future.

In addition to the education sessions, the DeVos Place housed more than 400 exhibitors displaying everything from produce processing equipment to orchard tractors.

“The Expo provides me the opportunity to view the latest research, network with other growers, and gain much needed exposure for the tree business all in one place,” said Leelanau County resident Chris Alpers of RedPath Orchards and Alpers Tree Sales.

This event allows growers to visit with dealers, consultants, and buyers in one location. A perennial favorite is the farm market donut stand handing out fresh hot donuts to passers-by. After these three days, you can be certain that your local growers will be heading north with some fresh ideas.

Who knows, maybe fresh donuts are coming to a farm market near you!

Jessica Rasch is a Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program technician with the Grand Traverse Conservation District.

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