Two State Wide Educational Conferences in Early February
By: Eddie Ayers, County Extension Agent
As we get into the heart of winter, often times we feel trapped in the house waiting for spring to arrive. Well perhaps not this year! If you’re interested in growing wine grapes or organic produce, there are a couple of opportunities in early February that will get you out of the house.
The annual Georgia Wine Producers Conference will take place February 4th and 5th at Chateau Elan in Braselton, Georgia. The conference begins Monday evening the 4th with a reception (tasting) featuring Georgia wines followed by a full day of educational sessions on Tuesday the 5th. Topics discussed include fermentation, branding, wine structure, and the importance of balanced fruit. Production topics include disease and insect management, bud density, trellis structure, delayed pruning and leaf removal. Attendees can learn about regional viticulture research efforts in addition to winemaking strategies and marketing tips from academic and industry specialists from Virginia, Cornell University in NY and UGA.
The Georgia Organics Conference & Expo, set for Friday and Saturday, February 8th and 9th at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center, is an important event for farmers and others interested in organic agriculture. With demand rising for organic produce and the industry growing to meet the need, this conference down in Tifton is a pivotal event for educating organic growers in Georgia and throughout the South. According to Juan Carlos Diaz-Perez, a University of Georgia scientist in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, organic agriculture has increased in the United States by about 10 percent a year over the last 15 years. It is likely that the increase in consumer demand for certified-organic produce has led some of Georgia’s larger growers to dedicate part of their land to growing certified-organic crops, said Julia Gaskin, UGA sustainable agriculture coordinator.
Along with UGA research entomologist Jason Schmidt, Diaz-Perez, who specializes in vegetables and plasticulture, will present at the conference and share some of his research from the two certified-organic acres on the UGA Tifton campus. He will also talk about research on high-tunnel production for vegetables like tomatoes, lettuce and spinach, as well as organic fertilization and utilization of cover crops. Event sessions, workshops and field trips to farms in South Georgia will be offered for attendees during the two-day event. Vanessa Shonkwiler, a public service assistant in UGA’s Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, will share marketing tips on how farmers can expand their brands and stories.
A key part of both meetings is networking with other producers and both require pre-registration which is available online. For the Georgia Wine Producers Conference, visit http://www.georgiawineproducers.org/2019-conference-registration and for the Georgia Organics Conference & Expo, visit https://conference.georgiaorganics.org/ and for more information about either conference, contact me in the Gilmer County UGA Extension office.
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