Fruits and vegetables are imporant Carolina crops, and the SC AgriBiz & Farm Expo set for Jan. 15 – 16 at the Florence Center in Florence, S.C. will be the go to place for farmers looking to produce a boutiful harvest.
As in past expos, the 2020 Expo will include a fruit, vegetable and alternatives track each day of the expo. Admission to the Expo and all seminars is free. Continuing education for farmers across the Carolinas is a key mission of the Expo.
Fruit, vegetable and alternatives sessions begins Wednesday, Jan. 15 at 11 a.m. with “Keeping Your Crop Safe to Eat!” where farmers will be given an update on the Produce Safety Rule that focuses on the first ever regulatory standards for the production, harvest and handling of fruits and vegetables. The seminar will be taught by Kelly Johnson and Brooke Horton both with the South Carolina Department of Agriculture.
At 11:45 a.m., “Keeping your Crop Pretty Enough to Eat!” will help farmers learn how to best harvet and hold their produce and keep it looking good until it goes to market. The seminar will be presented by Dr. Penelope Perkins-Veazie, a professor at North Carolana State University and an expert in phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables and how they are affected by post-harvest handling and storage.
At 2 p.m. Wednesday, farmers can learn the best ways to direct market their products. Discussion will focus on best practices of selling at farmers’ markets as well as tips on how to increase sales through pricing strategy and promotion. The seminar will be taught by Steve Richards, an agribusiness Extension associate at Clemson University.
Fruit and vegetable sessions continue Thursday, Jan. 16 with a seminar on blueberry production set for 11 a.m. The seminar will be taught by Bruce McLean, commercial horticulture agent with Clemson Extension. Blueberries can be grown in just about every corner of the Carolinas, and McLean will provide farmers with the necessary steps to succeed with the crop.
Pecans are another important Carolina crop, and Mark Arena, pecan specialist with Clemson Extension, will explain what is required to have a successful pecan operation. The seminar is set for Thursday, at 11:45 a.m.
Continuing on Thursday, a Lunch ‘n Learn session will be held at 12:15 p.m. and will feature well-known Clemson Extension horticulture agent Tony Melton who will give keys to finding success in a tough and challenging business. Melton emphasizes that “growing vegetables ain’t easy folks. You need expertise, knowledge, wisdom, training, aces-up-your-sleeves, entrepreneurship, and blessings from heaven to be successful.”
Another Lunch ‘n Learn session at 12:30 p.m. will feature Sidi Limehouse, 2019 Swisher South Carolina Farmer of the Year, and Zack Snipes, area horticulture agent with Clemson Extension. Limehouse operates Rosebank Farms on sixty acres of leased land that produces over 50 crops including fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs. Most of the crops are sold to GrowFood Carolina, a local food distributor specializing in selling directly to Charleston restaurants and local grocery stores and suppliers.
At 1 p.m., Stewart Higgins, director of Agriculture/Supply Chain with McCall Farms will discuss the importance of variety selection for fruits and vegetables that are well suited to the Carolina climates. Higgins will also discuss the importance of expanding the number of specialty crop growers in the states.
At 2 p.m., Andy Rollins, food crop agent with Clemson Extension, will offer pointers on establishing and growing commercial blackberries and peaches. He will also discuss disease and insect problems in the two crops.
At 2:45 p.m., Jackie Jordan, horticulture agent with Clemson Extension, will discuss the basics of sod production. She will explain the types of grasses that can be grown, the equipment needed and the market potential for sod.
At 3:30 p.m., Mark Arena, pecan specialist with Clemson Extension, will offer insights on what it takes to be a Christmas tree farmer in South Carolina.
In addition to continuing education for fruit and vegetable farmers, the SC AgriBiz & Farm Expo will include the Carolina Hemp Conference and educational opportunities for farmers of all commodities across the Carolinas. The expo also features a farm show with a wide variety of equipment, farm products and educational components.
For more details on the expo, click here.