News release: Bees and More at the Great Plains Growers Conference

Tim Baker, MU Extension Professional Field Specialist in Horticulture
102 N. Main, Suite 1, Gallatin, MO 64640

Release Date: November 22, 2018
Headline: Bees and More at the Great Plains Growers Conference

In a little over one month, it will be time for the Great Plains Growers Conference. This is one of the premier conferences for horticulture producers, and it is found right here in northwest Missouri.  Held in St. Joseph, the Great Plains Grower’s Conference is put together every year by Extension educators from four states: Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska.  The conference will be held on January 10-12, 2019. This will be our 23rd annual conference.

This is an exciting conference for anyone growing horticultural crops, with many new ideas presented from growers, researchers, and Extension specialists. The conference is open to everyone, from backyard gardeners to commercial produce growers.  Topics cover not only vegetables, but also tree fruits, small fruits and flowers.  There are also presentations targeted toward organic growers.

The event begins with workshops on Thursday.  Attendees choose a workshop when they register.  Each day-long workshop explores a topic in-depth. Workshops this year will include topics such as grower training for the Food Safety Modernization Act, cover crops and soil health, the potential for hops in Missouri and nearby states in the Great Plains, bees, and selling local foods.

I have helped organize the beekeeping session again this year. The Thursday workshop on beekeeping will feature Michael Bush, author of “The Practical Beekeeper: Beekeeping Naturally.” Bush has an interesting approach to the many problems facing bees and beekeepers today. He feels we have an unsustainable beekeeping system, and argues that these issues arise from pests, a shallow gene pool, contamination of the hive, using the wrong gene pool, upsetting the ecological balance of the hive, and other factors. Beekeepers will be interested in the solutions he believes will correct these problems.

The main conference occurs on Friday and Saturday. Before starting the concurrent tracks, we will hear from our keynote speaker, Alex Hitt. Alex and his wife Betsy have been farming in North Carolina for 37 years. They have an extremely diversified operation, producing cut flowers, small fruits, and vegetables. They market at a farmers’ market, and sell directly to several restaurants. You can read more about their farm on our conference web site, noted below.

After the keynote, there will be five concurrent tracks to choose from. Topics for this year’s tracks include Tree Fruit, Organic, Vegetable IPM, Season Extension, Technology, Drought in the Midwest, and Herbicide Injury in Horticultural Crops. I will have more on the Drought and Herbicide tracks in my next column. 

On Saturday, concurrent sessions include Greenhouse/Hydroponic, Organic, Cut Flowers, Small Fruits, Vegetable Production, and Technology.

There will be many exhibitors available to provide information about seeds, irrigation, horticulture equipment, chemicals, and other topics. Meals, break refreshments, and handouts will be included in the registration fee for the main conference.

The conference will be held on the campus of Missouri Western State University.  For more information about the conference and a registration form, call the Buchanan County Extension office at (816) 279-1691.  You may also register on-line and find additional information on our web site at: