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 Jan. 9-11, 2020. This will be our 24th 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 daylong workshop explores a topic in-depth. Workshops this year will include topics such as grower training for the Food Safety Modernization Act, Industrial Hemp 101, Honey Bees & Beekeeping, Drip Irrigation, and Cultivating Your Legally Resilient Farm.

I have helped organize the beekeeping session again this year. The Thursday workshop on beekeeping will feature Grant Gillard, past President of the Missouri State Beekeepers

Association, and a published author. His daylong presentation will include topics such as what to consider when you are thinking about getting into honeybees, how to get started in beekeeping, stepping into your second year, honey production, and raising queens and making nucs. Finally, he will discuss pushing the boundaries of your backyard hobbies.

The main conference occurs on Friday and Saturday. Before starting the concurrent tracks, we will hear from our keynote speaker, Charlotte Smith founder of 3CowMarketing.com. Her presentation is titled, 3 Steps to a Profitable Farm.

3CowMarketing.com is an online marketing training company helping farmers learn the most current online marketing techniques to grow a successful business. Her book “Farm Marketing from the Heart” is an introduction to the in-depth concepts taught in her twice-annual marketing course.

After the keynote, there will be up to five concurrent tracks to choose from. Topics on Friday and Saturday include business management and financing; tree and small fruit production; organic, conventional and greenhouse production; invasive species; cut flower production, and more.

The trade show includes many exhibitors who are 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: http://www.greatplainsgrowersconference.org/.

Tim Baker is a University of Missouri Extension professional and horticulture specialist.