Vegetable program at Southwest Michigan Horticultural Days to focus on regional projects and opportunities

A full day program has been designed at Michiana’s premier specialty crop conference to incorporate regional research, risk management opportunities and a goal setting period for Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center’s vegetable program.

Decorative image.

This year’s Southwest Michigan Horticultural Days will feature a full day’s vegetable program on Feb. 7, 2024, at the Lake Michigan College Mendel Center in Benton Harbor, Michigan. My goal for this session is to report on the local research happening right here in southwest Michigan, and topics that apply to growers in this area. I have also built in some time before lunch to have a discussion on priorities for Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center (SWMREC) projects. I want to do things here that matter to southwest Michigan vegetable growers like you!

Register for the 2024 Southwest Michigan Horticultural Research Days

For folks who have not been to Southwest Michigan Horticultural Days before, there is an equipment and industry trade show, big group lunch and a wine tasting after the sessions close on Feb 7. Parking for the event is on the north side of the Mendel Center off of Yore Road. Enter through the north doors. Here is a GPS point showing the doors to enter.

9:00 a.m. – Introduction and Variety Trials

Ben Phillips, vegetable specialist at SWMREC, will lead an introduction activity and report on the tomato, cucumber, pickle and summer-harvested broccoli and cauliflower variety trials from 2023, including initial observations on cucumber trellising.

9:40 a.m. – Viruses in Squash

Zsofia Szendrei, vegetable entomologist on campus, will discuss virus management options in squash, which is in response to the high rates of mosaic virus observed in summer squash down here last summer.

10:00 a.m. – Plasticulture Onion Trial

Natalie Constancio, a student in Szendrei’s lab, performed an experiment comparing plastic mulch colors and materials on the health of transplanted sweet onions.

10:20 a.m. – Phytophthora and Other Disease Work at SWMREC

David Perla, a student in Mary Hausbeck’s vegetable pathology lab, is the most consistent guest trial-runner at SWMREC. He will share insights on Phytophthora management and other relevant disease work performed in our area.

11:00 a.m. – SWMREC and YOU Goal Setting Period

Phillips will lead an activity to develop priorities for SWMREC vegetable projects.

12:00 p.m. – Lunch

1:30 p.m. – Insurance Options for Vegetable Growers

Jon LaPorte, a farm business management educator in Cass County, will explain the main risk-management programs available to vegetable producers.

2:00 p.m. – Smoke and Mirrors and Weather Outlook

Jeff Andresen, our agricultural meteorologist, will address the potential effects of smoke on crop production (such as we noticed in 2023) and a weather outlook for 2024.

2:30 p.m. – The Down and Dirty About Soap

Phil Tocco, our farm food safety educator from Jackson County, will share his love for soap.

3:00 p.m. – Locally Availably Irrigation Monitoring Systems and How to Get Them Paid For

Joe Janosky of Reinke Irrigation, Ryan Demorrow of Wilbur Ellis, and Mike Stickle, soil conservation technician from the Natural Resource Conservation Service, will share information about soil moisture monitoring systems that they offer in our region, and how to utilize United States Department of Agriculture funds to make them more affordable.

3:30 p.m. – Adjourn for the vegetable sessions, and wine-tasting in the Trade Show area around 4 p.m.

Don’t forget, “Days” is plural! Vegetables are just one track on one day at Southwest Michigan Horticultural Days. There are also tracks on blueberries, tree fruit, grapes and marketing that continue on Feb. 8!

This event is graciously hosted by the Michigan Grape Society and Lake Michigan College, and supported by sponsoring companies, Nutrien, Great Lakes IPM, Michigan State Horticultural Society, NewAge Labs, Oxbo, UPL, SymAgro and Nevill Supply Inc.

Register for the 2024 Southwest Michigan Horticultural Research Days

Did you find this article useful?