Indiana Hort Congress—Vegetable Session

Vegetable growers will find information-packed sessions at the Indiana Hort Congress next February. A few of the featured topics are highlighted in this article. Visit inhortcongress.org to see the full schedule and register.

Climate will be the focus on Tuesday afternoon in a session sponsored by the USDA Midwest Climate Hub, Midwestern Regional Climate Center, and Purdue Extension. Climatologists and production specialists will take a look at existing climate and weather tools useful for Indiana vegetable and fruit growers. They will also generate discussion on what kinds of information about climate and weather would make planning and production easier in future. They will take results of that discussion back to the ‘shop’ to help plan future work. This will be an excellent opportunity to get up-to-date information about climate AND to help shape what kind of climate information is available and how you can get it in the future. Bring your wish list!

Watermelon Wednesday starts at 8:30 on February 13. Purdue entomologists have completed the first year of a major project investigating insect management and pollinators in watermelons. At Purdue Ag Centers around the state they took a close look at how insecticide application strategies affected honey bees, bumble bees, wild bees, as well as pests and yield. They looked at pollinators on commercial watermelon farms. Entomologists at Ohio State and Michigan State did similar work in pumpkins and cucumbers, and results from that work will be presented also. This is the place and time to learn about pollinators and pest management in cucurbits from the people who are spending hours looking closely and analyzing what they see. The session will wrap up with an update on best management practices for insect and mite pest management in watermelons based on the latest research.

After the morning break on Wednesday, invited speaker from Tennessee Dr. Annette Wszelaki will give us the latest about biodegradable mulches. A team across the country has been investigating new types of products in vegetable production. I think most growers agree that non-degradable plastic mulches are expensive and labor-intensive to remove, and disposal options can be expensive or problematic. Participants in this session will learn what researchers found about how the new mulches perform in the field, how well they degrade, which are suitable for certified organic production, and more.

Wednesday morning will wrap up with the latest recommendations for managing insects in sweet corn.

Wednesday afternoon features one of the most frequently suggested topics this year: biostimulants. Dr. Lori Hoagland from Purdue and Dr. Matt Ruark from Univ. of Wisconsin will team up to teach about microbial inoculants, protein hydrolysates, kelp, and other biostimulants. Growers thinking about whether, when, and which biostimulants to use will get information to inform their decision-making from scientists involved in researching the materials and how they work.

Thursday morning is the vegetable variety showcase. Speakers will cover pumpkins, tomatoes, watermelons, cantaloupe, peppers, summer squash and sweet corn. Produce Safety Alliance GAPS Training will also be provided on Thursday.

High Tunnel and Greenhouse Production session will be on Tuesday, February 12. Topics include cover crops in high tunnels, high tunnel seedless cucumber production, fertility management, supplemental lighting and heating etc. A poster session will highlight graduate students’ research in controlled environment agriculture.

Other sessions at IHC include Business and Marketing, Food Safety on Tuesday; Strawberries and Fruit on Wednesday, Raw Products on Wednesday, and Wine Grape on Tuesday and Wednesday. Private Applicator Recertification (PARP) Credits and Commercial Applicator CCH’s will be available.

The Indiana Hort Congress luncheon will be on Wednesday, instead of Thursday as in previous years.

The Indiana Vegetable Growers Association annual membership meeting will be held Wednesday, February 13, at 3:30 to 4:30 pm.

The Trade Show will be open Tuesday afternoon through Thursday morning.

Hope to see you in Indianapolis at the 2019 IHC!

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