Farming Magazine - February, 2009


Info for Every Grower

A Look at the Empire State Fruit and Vegetable Expo
By Vern Grubinger

The Empire State Expo has information for all types of fruit and vegetable growers.

The Empire State Fruit and Vegetable Expo will be held February 11-12 in Syracuse N.Y., at the Oncenter Convention Center. This educational event for commercial growers is typically attended by about 1,500 people. The educational sessions and trade show will feature information that serves the interests of the wholesale market as well as retail farms, organic and conventional producers, and growers of just about every fruit and vegetable crop. The planning committee includes Cornell Cooperative Extension, as well as lots of farmers and industry representatives.

Educational Sessions on Wednesday, February 11:
Tree Fruit; Tree Fruit Disease Management; Tree Fruit Production Efficiency; Potatoes; Onions; Selling Organic Produce to Supermarkets; Beans/Peas; Sweet Corn; Conducting On-Farm Experiments and Trials; Soil Health and Reduced Tillage; Cover Crops and Nitrogen; GAPs for Small Farms; and Beets/Carrots.

Educational Sessions on Thursday, February 12:
Tree Fruit Production Efficiency; Honeycrisp/Managed Varieties; Berries; Cabbage and Cole Crops; Ecological Weed Management; High Tunnels; Soil Health and Reduced Tillage; Tomato/Pepper; Cut Flowers; and Vine Crops.

Special Labor Session on February 10:
The day before the main conference is the Becker Forum. It will take place at the Holiday Inn, Liverpool N.Y. This year’s topic is “Proactive Approaches to Immigration and Workforce Issues,” and the cost is $55 for the full-day session, which includes lunch and refreshments. Preregistration is required. The program includes presentations on: Immigration Reform With a New President and New Congress; Understanding Issues Related to Social Security No-match Letters; Immigration and Agriculture: Changing Public Perceptions; How to Be a Better Boss; Strategies to Support Agricultural Workers; Creating a High- Performance Business Culture; and How to Impact Future Immigration Legislation.

Photos Courtesy of Vern Grubinger.
There are two days of educational sessions for tree fruit growers at the expo.

Soil presentations

While the entire expo program is too extensive to list here (for the full program, visit, I thought I’d highlight the talks that will be given over two days on soil heath, reduced tillage and cover crops—an interconnected set of topics that Cornell University researchers and extension personnel have been leaders in addressing. If you’re interested in improving soil stewardship on your farm, the expo is worth attending just for these talks alone.

On February 11, soil talks include Results of Grower and Cornell Reduced Tillage Research; Using Zone Tillage for Sweet Corn and Vine Crops; Switching to Zone Tillage in Fresh Market Sweet Corn; Equipment Update for Zone Tillage; Biochar as a Strategy to Enhance Soil; and What Can Legumes Do For You? Understanding Biological Nitrogen Fixation From the Ground Up.

Two days of soil health presentations include a number of grower talks on the use of zone-tillage on their farms.

The soil health presentations on February 12th include Fitting Biofumigant Cover Crops Into Your Vegetable Rotation; Cover Crop Selection and Root Health on an Organic Grain and Vegetable Farm; Cover Crops on a Reduced Till Vegetable Farm; Results of the Long-Term Tillage, Rotation and Cover Crop Trial at the Gates Farm; Important Considerations in Crop Rotation, and the New Crop Rotation Manual; Interpreting and Using Nitrogen and Carbon Results of the Cornell Soil Health Test; Adaptive Nitrogen Management for Corn: Incorporating the Weather Component; and What the Cornell Soil Health Test’s Physical Health Results Can Tell You About Your Soil’s Potential and Limitations.

Trade show

Many businesses specifically devoted to the fruit and vegetable industry will be exhibiting at the trade show, which features equipment for all sizes of growing operations. Special trade show demonstrations will be scheduled for growers and their employees throughout the two days of the main conference as well. Trade show hours are Wednesday, February 11, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Thursday, February 12, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Preregistration forms must be received by Friday, January 30. They are available at, or contact the New York State Vegetable Growers Association at 315-687-5734. The cost is $30 for one-day attendance, or $55 for two days, per person, including all educational programs and the trade show, which takes place February 11-12. Walk-in registration will be available at the door for $40 for one day, and $65 for two days.

Directions and parking

To get to the Oncenter, take Exit 36 off I-90, and Route 81 South to Syracuse, then Harrison Street, Exit 18. Turn right on Harrison, go two blocks, left on State Street, left into Oncenter Parking Garage. A garage ($4) is attached to the Oncenter via an enclosed walkway over State Street, but parking may be limited at times. Show your expo badge when paying. Alternatively, all attendees can park for free at the Holiday Inn Syracuse/Liverpool and take the free shuttle bus to the Oncenter.


The Holiday Inn Syracuse/Liverpool is the official hotel for the Fruit and Vegetable Expo. Rooms are available for a discounted rate of $85 per night. To make a reservation, call the hotel at 315-457-1122 and mention the Empire State Fruit and Vegetable Expo to receive the discount.

Reservations can be made online as well at, search for “Syracuse”, and use the group booking code of VEG to qualify for the discount. Free and continuous shuttle bus service will be available between the Holiday Inn and the Oncenter Convention Center on Wednesday and Thursday. Shuttle bus service will begin at 7:15 a.m. from the hotel door and will continue throughout the day. The hotel features a large complimentary parking lot, so take advantage of the shuttle bus service to the expo even if you don’t need a hotel room. The shuttle ride is about 15 minutes.

The Renaissance Syracuse Hotel is also offering lodging for the expo at a discounted rate of $89 per night. This downtown hotel offers complimentary van shuttle service to and from the airport, as well as the Oncenter Convention Center (advance reservations required). Call 315-479-7000 or 877-843-6279 for reservations and mention the expo and NYS Vegetable Growers to receive your discounted rate, or visit and enter group code FVEFVEG (for a king) or FVEFVES (for two double beds).

For additional information or to request a hard copy of the expo program, contact the NYS Vegetable Growers Association at 315-687-5734 or

The author is vegetable and berry specialist with University of Vermont Extension based at the Brattleboro office.