East Texas Commercial Fruit and Vegetable Conference set Feb. 26 in Tyler

Programming designed for both commercial and home gardeners

Dennis Oefinger

Dennis Oefinger is a commercial fruit and vegetable grower who farms about 30 acres in Smith County. Oefinger sells most of his fresh produce directly to the public, much of it from The Veggie Stand, his roadside stand near Tyler. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Robert Burns)

Writer: Robert Burns, 903-312-3199, rd-burns@tamu.edu

TYLER – Both commercial and home gardeners can learn many invaluable “tips of the trade” at the Annual East Texas Commercial Fruit and Vegetable Conference, set Feb. 26 in Tyler, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service county agent.

“We originally put this program on mainly for commercial growers, but over the years, the attendance has become about half commercial and half private home growers,” said Chad Gulley, AgriLife Extension county agent for agriculture and natural resources in Smith County.

Though Gulley and other agents planned the program in part with home gardeners in mind, he emphasized this is not to say they are “watering down” the information for a non-commercial audience, Gulley said they are designing the program with presentations targeting both audiences.

Held at the Rose Garden Center at 400 Rose Park Dr., registration for the daylong program will be $30 per person at the door. Registration will start at 8 a.m., with presentations beginning at 8:30 a.m. and ending about 3:30 p.m.

Holders of Texas Department of Agriculture pesticide applicators licenses will receive two continuing education units in the general category.

Some presentations will be of interest more to commercial growers, such as “High Tunnels for Vegetable and Strawberry Production,” by Dr. Russ Wallace, AgriLife
Extension Vegetable Specialist, Lubbock; “Ag Exemption 101,” by Dr. Blake Bennett, AgriLife Extension Economist, Dallas; and “Managing Weeds and on the Orchard Floor,” by Monte Nesbitt, AgriLife Extension horticulture specialist, College Station

“Water Requirements for Fruits/Vegetables,” also by Wallace; “Honey for Home and Profit,” by Dick Counts, East Texas Beekeepers Association, Tyler; and “Do’s and Don’ts in a Raised Bed Garden,” by Dr. Joe Masabni, AgriLife Extension vegetable specialist, College Station; are more for the home growers, Gulley said.

Other presentations include “Sustainable versus Organic Production, ” by Dr. Nelson Daniels, Prairie View A&M Ag and Natural Resources Specialist, Cooperative Extension Program, Prairie View; and “Developing a Sustainable Vegetable Garden Plan,” by Masabni, and “Managing Texas’ most common fruit problems” by Nesbitt, should be of use to both commercial and home growers, he said.

“Again this year, Irrigation Mart Inc. and Heritage Land Bank are program sponsors,” Gulley added. “Participants will have the opportunity to visit various commercial vendors throughout the day at this conference as well.”

The full conference agenda can be found at http://bit.ly/WyBJ32 . For more information, contact Gulley at 903-590-2980 or c-gulley@tamu.edu.

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