Sixty-two years ago, Fraser Valley raspberry and strawberry growers decided to host a day of technical seminars to help them address production issues. The sessions were held in the late winter while growers were not yet busy in their fields and in plenty of time for them to apply the knowledge they had gained to their crops that year.
The first sessions were so popular, the Berry Short Course became an annual event. Over the years, it became the Horticulture Short Course as other commodities joined the mix.
Just over two decades ago, it was combined with the BC Dairy Expo and a large, integrated agriculture trade show to become the event we know today as the Pacific Agriculture Show.
Online registration forms for the Horticultural Short Course are available at www.agricultureshow.net. The fee is $100 for the first person from a farm and $90 for each additional person for registrations received by January 10 and includes access to the trade show and all technical seminars. After January 10, the registration fee jumps to $130/person. Eligible growers can receive pesticide recertification credits at technical sessions they attend.
Farm Business Management
Open to all growers, the feature farm business management sessions in the Terralink Room, Friday morning, January 31, are focused on building resiliency on the farm.
Chris Henderson, an agricultural accountant and registered consultant with the BC Ministry of Agriculture Farm Business Advisory Service, will open the proceedings with insights from his extensive experience working through farm transitions.
Idaho farm family business consultant Dick Witman will follow with an impassioned defence of peer groups. He will describe how peer groups can help farms become professionally managed family businesses.
The morning will conclude with a keynote presentation by Sean Brotherton, the extension family science specialist with North Dakota State University. Brotherton has spent a lifetime studying rural families and stress, and will describe ways to take care of your business, your family, and most important, your physical and mental health.
Since berries remain the core of the horticultural short course, it should be no surprise there are sessions for berry growers in the Terralink Room all three days.
Thursday’s sessions are aimed at strawberry and raspberry growers and will provide information on both production and marketing issues facing the sector. Growers will learn about alternative crop inputs for raspberries, managing caterpillar contaminants and the newest pest threat – the brown marmorated stink bug – and the role of silicon in disease management.
There will also be updates on the strawberry and raspberry breeding programs in BC, Washington and Oregon as well as production and marketing forecasts for both strawberries and raspberries.
Several speakers will provide information on managing spotted wing drosophila (SWD) on Friday afternoon. As well, BC Ministry of Agriculture nutrient management specialist Jeff Nimmo will detail the new requirements for soil testing, nutrient applications and sawdust storage while provincial minor use pesticide coordinator Caroline Bedard will go over changes in pesticide registrations affecting berry growers.
On Saturday, the focus shifts to blueberries. Growers will learn about weevil impacts on production, rainfastness of insecticides and fungicides, alternative crop inputs, cherry fruitworm, the use of drones and precision irrigation and the difference between fertigation and granular fertilization applications.
There will also be updates on BC’s blueberry breeding program and the global blueberry market as well as information on assessing blueberry harvest and post-harvest quality and how to satisfy packers and processors.
Ag water management
Since the new Water Act was enacted in 2016, farmers and ranchers have had to register their groundwater wells and start paying for the water they use for their crops and livestock. Getting those wells registered remains a challenge so the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development has extended the deadline to 2022. FLNRORD staff will be in the Evergro Room Friday morning to talk about the extension and provide information on how to register online.
Whether or not farmers have registered their wells, climate change is forcing all farmers to adjust their water management strategies and increase efficiencies in water use. Water experts will describe a pilot project in Keremeos using variable-rate irrigation technology designed to do just that.
As well, BC Cattlemens’ Association farmland riparian interface stewardship program manager Lee Hesketh will discuss drainage maintenance and Ted van der Gulik of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC will provide the latest results of salinity monitoring and the impact of salinity on fresh water in Delta and Richmond.
Direct farm marketing
In recent years, many farmers are trying to bypass the middleman and market their products direct to consumers. It can add value but has challenges.
Outstanding Young Farmer finalists Sacha Bentall and Tyler McNaughton of Cutter Ranch in Fort Steele will describe their journey during a direct farm marketing session in the Evergro Room Friday afternoon, January 31.
They will be joined by Chuck Currie, the founding executive chef of Earls Restaurants, who will discuss how to market to restaurants and Abbotsford marketing specialist Summer Dhillon-Giesbrecht, who will provide tips on how to brand and market a farm so it becomes recognizable to consumers.
Since organic farmers cannot feed their vegetables chemical fertilizers, managing nutrients can be a challenge. Organic growers should therefore be most interested in attending the two-part seminar on nutrient management during the organic production sessions at the PAS on Saturday. In part one, the University of British Columbia’s Kira Borden will provide an overview of four years of UBC-led organic amendment experiments.
In part two, her UBC associate, Amy Norgaard, will report results of recent on-farm nutrient management trials on organic farms in Pemberton, Vancouver Island and the Fraser Valley.
There will also be several sessions on weed management, understanding growing degree days and growing with bioplastics.
Michelle Franklin of Kwantlen Polytechnic University will describe biocontrol products the KPU Institute for Sustainable Horticulture is developing to control pests and diseases.
Finally, Delta growers Harvie Snow and Lydia Ryall will talk about their integrated approach to organic production and marketing.
Potatoes and field vegetables
Field vegetable growers will enjoy a full day of informative sessions in the Belchim Gallery, Thursday, January 30.
There will be specific sessions on production issues affecting beet, cole crop, garlic and sweet potato growers. General sessions interspersed throughout will cover such topics as sclerotinia management, the value of grassland setasides, using drones to apply pesticides and the use of bacteriophages to fight pathogens which contribute to food-borne illnesses.
Growers will also learn more about such pests as the western corn rootworm and the recently-discovered brown marmorated stink bug.
The field vegetable session continues Thursday afternoon with presentations on vegetable varieties for 2019 and specific instructions for alternaria management in cabbage, harvest management in table beets and garlic insect pests. Elsie Friesen and Susan Smith of the BC Ministry of Agriculture will end the day with important information on pesticide labeling and the 2020 BC vegetable production guide.
On Friday morning the focus shifts to potatoes. Researchers and consultants from BC and Washington will present management options for late blight, weeds, wireworms and storage diseases. As well, BCMA nutrient management specialist Jeff Nimmo will describe the province’s new nutrient management regulations and detail tools BCMA has developed to help growers maintain nutrient management records.
After being absent for several decades, a fledgling hop industry is reemerging in the Fraser Valley. Reestablishing the sector has proved challenging, as growers need to not only learn how to cope with pests but also what craft brewers, expected to form the market for local hops, actually need and want. Some of the answers will be provided during the PAS hops seminar in the Evergro Room, Saturday morning, Feburary 1.
BC Ministry of Agriculture new entrant development officer Emily Carmichael will provide results of last year’s aphid survey in Fraser Valley hop fields while Mathias Schuetz of Kwantlen Polytechnic University will detail work KPU is doing to development new hop cultivars for BC.
Perhaps most important, a panel of BC craft brewers will describe their challenges and what they need from BC hop growers to produce the beer today’s consumers want.
Greenhouse vegetable growers regularly add CO2 to their greenhouses to enhance the growing environment. While most feeds the plants, some of it escapes through the ventilation system. Can growers reduce that loss by using high-pressure fog instead of ventilation to cool a greenhouse? Jumjan van den Bremer of the Netherlands believes they can and will describe the system during the greenhouse vegetable session in the Evergro Room, Thursday morning, January 29.
The morning will be packed full of information for growers, starting with an update on the tomato brown rugose fruit virus, a highly virulent disease threatening tomato growers across North America.
Other topics of interest include information on greenhouse biosecurity, artificial intelligence, insect netting and blackout screens.
Weather prevented feature speaker Roberto Lopez of Michigan State University from attending last year’s session so he has been rebooked to open this year’s floriculture session in the Evergro Room, Thursday afternoon, January 30. To ensure travel will not be an issue again, his long-awaited presentation on the basics of annual and perennial flower induction will be presented in webinar form.
In addition to Lopez’s presentation, Pennsylvania floriculture consultant Suzanne Wainwright-Evans will discuss common mistakes growers make when switching to biological pest controls. There will also be information on quality assurance programs and Flowers Canada’s new protected agriculture stewardship initiative.
After being devastated by Eastern Filbert Blight, the BC hazelnut industry is starting to come back with new less susceptible varieties. The new varieties are less susceptible but not immune. How to protect them is the subject of one of the talks during the hazelnut sessions in the Belchim Gallery, Friday afternoon, January 31. Growers will also learn about new, more-resistant varieties being developed in the Oregon State University breeding program as well as information on the outlook for hazelnuts both here and throughout the world.
Growers planning to start new orchards will also receive helpful tips on field preparation and orchard startup from Steve Hope and Kevin Hooge of Fraser Valley Hazelnuts and an update on the brown marmorated stink bug from BC Ministry of Agriculture entomologist Tracy Hueppelsheuser.
Agroforestry can provide a lot of benefits, such as increasing biodiversity and enhancing environmental sustainability, but there are a lot of things to consider before becoming involved, not the least of which is how much it will cost.
The agroforestry session in the BMO Room, Thursday afternoon, January 30, will provide information on cost of production, things to consider before starting and what marketing approach to take.
Growers will hear from both experts and growers who have gone through and conquered the many challenges involved. One key to success is to work together and growers will hear about one of North America’s greatest agroforestry cooperative successes: the Oregon Woodland Cooperative.
For the first time at the Pacific Agriculture Show, there will be a session for mushroom growers. It will take place in the BMO Room, Saturday morning, February 1. Growers and potential growers will learn about both cultivated and wild mushrooms. They will also receive valuable information about traditional white button mushrooms as well as truffles, wild and specialty mushrooms.