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bird with ear of corn
BATTLING BIRDS: One session at the Expo will discuss bird management in sweet corn.

From vine crops to farm shops

University Insight: : The 2018 Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market Expo will offer over 70 sessions Dec. 4-6.

By Ben Phillips and Ben Werling

This year’s Great Lakes Expo on Dec. 4-6 in Grand Rapids, Mich., has a long lineup of speakers, along with 70 educational sessions.

Session topics range from vine crops to farm shops and blueberries to gerbera daisies. In addition, the Expo is hosting over 400 vendors specializing in horticultural and marketing supplies and equipment. The event is designed for beginning and experienced commercial growers of fruits, vegetables and greenhouse crops.

Sessions of special interest to the vegetable grower include:

• Food safety. The session at 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 4 features MDARD’s Brent Kreiger and Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Matt Fout on what to expect from a Food Safety Modernization Act inspection.

• Sweet corn. The session at 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 4 features Cornell’s Marion Zuefle on bird management, a major pest for Michigan growers.

• Root crops. From 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 5, the session will cover weed control in table beets by University of Wisconsin’s Jed Colquhoun and Lorsban alternatives for cabbage maggot control by Michigan State University’s Ben Werling.

• Greenhouse vegetables. The session at 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 5 will cover transplant management from MSU Extension’s Mary Hausbeck and Garrett Owen.

• Ag tech. From 9 to 11 a.m. Dec. 6, OSU’s Sally Miller will discuss anaerobic soil disinfestation, a technique of particular importance to hoophouse tomato growers for sterilizing soils with any carbon source and water.

Worker Protection Standard
A new revision to the Worker Protection Standard requires all those who mix, load and apply pesticides (including self-employed handlers) to have a one-time medical evaluation, annual fit-tests for each type of respirator required by the pesticide product label, and annual training regarding the proper use of each respirator that will be used by the handler.

This year, Expo organizers have invited Great Lakes Bay Health Center’s mobile examination bus to provide free medical evaluations to comply with the new respirator rule. Growers will still need to perform an annual fit-test and training to employees who need to use a respirator. 

On the bus
A bus tour to visit farm markets in the Grand Rapids area will show how local ag products are creatively marketed.

Registration is open at

Werling and Philips are vegetable educators with Michigan State University Extension.

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