Orchard and vineyard show arrives next week


The 2019 Northwest Michigan Orchard and Vineyard show is just around the corner — Jan. 15-16.

The Grand Traverse Fruit Growers’ Council and Michigan State University Extension staff are gearing up for a great show. The two-day show is held annually at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa.

We are looking forward to holding our event in the resort’s newly remodeled conference facility. We are expecting an increase in attendance this year, and the resort has been helpful by accommodating our needs for more space to host our luncheons and educational sessions.

For the tree fruit portion of the show, we will welcome several specialists from MSU’s campus to present.

Dr. Larry Gut will provide an update on invasive and emerging pests in tree fruit, particularly as growers have seen an uptick in secondary pests such as San Jose scale in sweet cherries, black stem borer and woolly apple aphid in apples. Dr. Pratima Devkota is a new member of the MSU team, and she will be presenting her novel work on the Armillaria root rot fungus. Dr. George Sundin is attending the show after a six-month sabbatical where he has been learning how growers might use bacteriophages for potential cultural control of diseases like bacterial canker and fire blight. Dr. Trey Malone also is new to MSU and has some interesting new information on consumer preferences for tart cherries.

This event will showcase some other out-of-the-box topics: Michigan’s variable rainfall events and impacts on fruit crops, a new tart cherry production model, the potential for more fresh market apples in northwest Michigan agriculture, and how to maximize the economics for growing fresh market and processing sweet cherries in our region.

We will also feature the Cherry Marketing Institute’s annual meeting to update growers on the promotion program, export marketing, and a report from the National Cherry Festival.

For this year’s show, we have expanded the wine grape sessions from one to two days. Thomas Todaro, the northwest viticulture educator, has been on board for more than a year and has been working hard to address key issues for wine grape growers and wine makers in the region.

Three out-of-state speakers are coming in for the wine grape portion of the event.

Todd Steiner, The Ohio State University, will discuss areas of concern in the wine grape production process; he will also discussion pre-fermentation practices to make quality wines. Dr. Doug Doohan, also from OSU, will present on spring to fall weed control in the vineyard. Dr. Stephen Sommer, California State University, will talk about microbial control and spontaneous fermentation.

On the second day, there will be a Stan Howell Honorarium Luncheon; Dr. Howell was a prominent wine grape researcher at MSU who passed away this year, and we will host a tribute to him and his work.

We are expecting a good turnout from local, regional and national vendors. Our phones at the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center have been ringing off the hook with calls from vendors to participate — our office manager Jenn Zelinski has been busy!

We are excited to offer participants and vendors time to connect and discuss equipment, crop production tools, and other agricultural needs — thanks in advance to our vendors for their participation. We also want to thank all of the show’s sponsors, as we could not do it without them!

We have an excellent Northwest Michigan Orchard and Vineyard Show teed up for this year, and we hope to see everyone there next week.

Nikki Rothwell is a Michigan State University Extension district horticulturalist and coordinator of the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station.