2017 Empire Producers Expo

Darcy Telenko, Extension Vegetable Specialist, CCE Cornell Vegetable Program

The 2017 Empire State Producers Expo will take place on January 17-19 at the OnCenter Convention Center in Syracuse, NY. This annual show combines the major fruit, flower, vegetable, and direct marketing associations of New York State in order to provide a comprehensive trade show and educational conference for New York producers, as well as neighboring states and Eastern Canada.  In years past over 100 presentations were given by Cornell Cooperative Extension personnel and highly regarded speakers from across the country. Panel discussions feature some of the top industry experts and growers in New York. Between educational sessions, attendees can visit the trade show featuring over 150 commercial vendors and non-profit exhibitors.

Session organizers for the 2017 Empire Producers Expo have put together an exciting educational program.  Brief descriptions of some of educational program can be found below.  Topics include commodity specific programs in cabbage, processing vegetables, hops, grains, cut flowers, tree fruit, sweet corn, tomato, onion, potato, Cole crops, root crops and specialty crops; and focused programs in water management and irrigation, weed management, wildlife management, soil health, post-harvest handling, biopesticides, beginning farmer, marketing using social media and apps, transplant and greenhouse production, climate and forecast models, labor, and hard cider production. DEC pesticide recertification credits and Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) credits will be offered during the appropriate educational sessions.


The New York Grown and Certified Program will be presented in a special session on January 18 and will feature the Commissioner of Agriculture, Richard Ball. Commissioner Ball will introduce the new standard for New York State agriculture and provide an opportunity for dialog about this new state-wide program.


We have made a few additions to this year’s program by offering opportunities for intensive training during Expo in the form of specialized workshops. Preregistration will be required to guarantee workshop material and/or spot in these programs. The complete Expo program will be mailed in early December. The program and online preregistration will also be available from the NYS Vegetable Growers Association at: https://nysvga.org/expo/information/


Trade show exhibitor information can be found at: http://leetradeshows.com/empire-state-expo/

or contact Dan Wren at 800-218-5586 dwren@leepub.com.


Session Details:

2017 Becker Forum: GAPs/Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) Training

Monday, January 16, 2017 | 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Holiday Inn Syracuse-Liverpool ,441 Electronics Parkway, Liverpool, New York 13088

Pre-registration requested as space is limited to 50 on first-come basis

The New York State Vegetable Growers Association in conjunction with the Produce Safety Alliance (a collaboration between Cornell University, FDA and USDA) are pleased to announce that one of the first producer trainings to meet the requirements of Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) will be offered during the Becker Forum on January 16, 2017 in Liverpool, NY.  This 7-hour training will provide the required training for farms to meet the Produce Safety Rule.

NYS Berry Growers Association Workshop – Uncovering the Secrets of Growing Berries Under Cover

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 | 8:30 am – 4:00 pm

Pre-registration is required to receive workshop materials – Free to NYS Berry Growers Association members and $20 for non-members.

Session organized by Laura McDermott, Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program and Cara Fraver, New York State Berry Growers Association

As dramatic weather events increase, pest pressure intensifies, and local markets vitalize, New York berry growers are looking for ways to protect their crop and lengthen their season. Growers and educators are evaluating techniques for growing berries under cover. This day-long workshop will feature multiple short presentations, hands-on or interactive activities, words from growers, and a NYS Berry Grower Association Annual meeting discussing the newest research in tunnels and exclusion netting.

Courtney Weber from Cornell University will present on cultivars of strawberries and raspberries that thrive in tunnels. We’ll look at what kinds of innovative types of plastics are available, how they work differently, and how to dispose of them thoughtfully and affordably with experts Kathy Demchak and Lois Levitan. Greg Loeb and Kerik Cox from Cornell University will help us understand what sorts of pest and diseases are specific to tunnel environments and how to manage them. Greg Loeb and Stephen Hessler will present on using lures within exclusion netting systems. Juliet Carroll, NYS IPM, and Jonathan Lambert, Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions, will discuss apps and tools farmers can employ to manage climate change. With Miguel Gomez, we’ll look at the ways that SWD has impacted farmers’ profits. Join us to learn how you can push your strawberries into November, grow blueberries without spray in the post SWD era, use apps to best predict the weather you’re trying to protect against, and more!


GAPs Day 2 – Writing Your Own Food Safety Plan Workshop

Tuesday, January 17 | 8:30 am – 4:30 pm

Pre-registration is required to reserve seat and receive materials as space is limited.

Session organized by Elizabeth Bihn, Food Science, Cornell University, Craig Kahlke, CCE Lake Ontario Fruit Team, and Robert Hadad, CCE Cornell Vegetable Program

Growers looking for help in writing up a GAPs/farm safety plan should look to join this workshop.  It will be offered as a continuation of the 7-hour FSMA training. It is requested that you have attended day 1 of a previous GAPs training or the program offered during the Becker Forum.

Goals of the workshop:

  • Understand how GAPs (Good Agricultural Practices) impact produce safety.
  • Learn what is needed to have a USDA GAP/GHP audit, and the two types (harmonized and basic).
  • Begin writing a farm food safety plan that complies with a USDA GAP/GHP audit.

Growers participating in this training will receive:

  • A flash drive pre-loaded with templates to use in writing a farm food safety plan including templates of record keeping forms.
  • Bag with lots of other resources: Farm Worker Training CD, A grower self-assessment for food safety risks Posters and other items.

Bring the following items on day of the workshop:

  1. Laptop computer.
  2. List of crops that you want to be USDA GAP/GHP certified (if planning to participate in an audit).
  3. Farm maps with fields outlined that contain crops to be certified.
  4. Packinghouse floor plan that shows product from entry to exit if applicable to your operation.
  5. List of services contracted at your operation (pest control, portable toilet rental, trucking, etc.) and any recordkeeping documents they supply.



Tuesday, January 17, 2016 | 9:00 am to 10:15 am

Session organized by Christine Hoepting, CCE Cornell Vegetable Program


The hot and dry summer and extended unseasonably warm fall of 2016 was very favorable for worm pests in cabbage.  Also issues with insecticide resistance of Diamondback moth (DBM) populations in the south (e.g. Georgia) spilled over into New York when infested transplants with uncontrollable populations were imported.  Whether you grow southern bare root transplants or locally produced plants, some of the newer chemical classes of insecticides are at risk for DBM to develop resistance.  The cabbage session will feature an in-depth look at managing DBM in the face of insecticide resistance, which will be presented by Cornell Vegetable Entomologist, Dr. Brian Nault and will include results from an insecticide evaluation of an uncontrollable DBM population in Western NY.  Also, CCE Cornell Vegetable Program Specialist, Christy Hoepting, will share the highlights from her past three years of exploring nitrogen dynamics in cabbage.


Amber Waves on the Horizon: Grain Growing for Emerging Value-Added, Local Small Grains Markets

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 | 11:00 am – 12:15 pm

Session organized by Justin O’Dea, CCE Ulster County


There is a grain renaissance growing in New York State. Craft bakers, chefs, brewers, and distillers are creating new value-added market opportunities for NYS-grown grain. Recent farm brewery and distillery legislation is further bolstering this trend. In this Empire State Producers Expo session, attendees will gain an overview of malting barley production in NYS and general considerations for getting involved in producing grain for value added markets in NYS. Cornell and farmer session speakers will include aspects informative to both beginning small grains growers and those who have already begun to produce grain.


Cut Flower Production

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 | 11:00 am – 12:15 pm

Session organized by Dana Dore-Hadad, Chicory Blue Gardens

Mike and Polly Hutchison of Robin Hollow Farm, in Saunderstown, RI, will discuss how they created, and operate a successful cut flower farm. If you are interested in growing and selling flowers, or are a veteran grower, come listen and later take part in a grower discussion. There’s a lot to learn from Mike and Polly Hutchison, of Robin Hollow Farm!


Weed Management

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 | 1:45 pm – 3:00 pm

Session organized by Darcy Telenko and Julie Kikkert, CCE Cornell Vegetable Program


This afternoon session will feature Dr. Antonio DiTommaso from Soil and Crop Sciences, Cornell University as he discusses the influence of weed seed banks and what can be done to lower their impact in our cropping systems. He will discuss the importance of understanding weed biology and the roles different reproductive strategies play in persistence of weed species. If weeds are a problem on your farm you won’t want to miss this session.


Keep Your Cool: Practical Considerations for Building Improved On-Farm Cold Storage on a Budget

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 | 1:45 pm-3:00 pm

Session organized by Ethan Grundberg, CCE Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program


Are you considering expanding production of storage crops, but aren’t sure what infrastructure you’ll need to maintain quality in long-term cold storage? Are you a diversified grower interested in building climate zones into your cold storage, but want to hear ideas from other farmers on how to do so without breaking the bank? Chris Callahan, Extension Assistant Professor of Agricultural Engineering at the University of Vermont, will present some of his work on low-cost outside air exchange systems for winter storage, effective environmental monitoring equipment, and efficient designs for improved cold storage to maintain quality in the cooler.


Soil Health

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 | 4:00 pm -5:15 pm

Session organized by Justin O’Dea, CCE Ulster County


Learning how to improve soil health is a complex, knowledge intensive process. Growers interested in improving soil health need to be well informed to understand how to best harness potential to build soil health and improve crop production. In this Empire State Producers Expo session, growers will hear how one grower, Jean-Paul Courtens, is successfully improving soil health through a several strategies, and how another farmer, Dale Gies, is going big with brassica cover crops for soil health and biofumigation strategies that combat soil-borne diseases. Each grower will share their wisdom of experience and data to illustrate how their approaches work towards soil health improvement.


Biopesticides: What are They? Will They Work? How to Incorporate Them on Your Farm

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 | 3:45 pm-5:10 pm

Session organized by Darcy Telenko, CCE Cornell Vegetable Program and Megan Burley, CCE Erie County


Biopesticides are defined by the EPA to “… include naturally occurring substances that control pests (biochemical pesticides), microorganism that control pests (microbial pesticides), and pesticidal substances produced by plants containing added genetic material (plant-incorporated protectants) or PIPs.” These include biochemical pesticides, microbial pesticides, and plant-incorporated protectants. Join Debbie Palumbo-Sanders, BioWorks Inc., who will discuss the truths and myths of biopesticides. Abby Seaman from the NYS IPM Program, Cornell University will discuss her biopesticides research -what they’ve tried and what has worked. In addition, Mark Zittel, Amos Zittel & Sons Farm, will give a grower perspective on using biopesticides on their farm.


Pest Management

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 | 8:30 am-9:45 am

Session organized by Tess Grasswitz, CCE Lake Ontario Fruit Team


The 2016 growing season was a challenging one for New York tree fruit producers, with drought stress increasing tree susceptibility to various pest, disease and physiological problems. With this in mind, this session will feature 3 speakers from Cornell University who will focus on several topical problems. Dr. Kerik Cox will provide the latest recommendations and research on season-long fire blight management in apples, while presentations by Drs. David Rosenberger and Lailiang Cheng will help growers diagnose and manage various trunk-related problems in apples and nutrient-related problems in fruit trees.



Wednesday, January 18, 2017 | 1:15 pm – 2:30 pm

Session organized by Craig Kahlke, CCE Lake Ontario Fruit Team


Washington State’s Ines Hanrahan to Address NY’s Tree Fruit Growers on Listeria Prevention & Best Cultural Practices of Honeycrisp at Empire State Producers Expo; Cornell’s Own Greg Peck to Cover Soil Health

The New York Apple Association is proud to sponsor Dr. Ines Hanrahan, Project Manager of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, who will be giving two talks during the early afternoon Horticulture session on Wednesday, January 18th at the Empire State Producers Expo in Syracuse.  We are honored to bring in such a dynamic and knowledgeable speaker to share her insights on two extremely timely topics.  Dr. Hanrahan will open the session by sharing the latest research WA has used to help increase the packout, storage length, and fruit quality of Honeycrisp, an apple that continues to soar in popularity with the consumer.  Dr. Gregory Peck will follow with a presentation on soil health for tree fruit growers.  Greg has extensive experience in this topic, as a doctoral student under Dr. Ian Merwin, in his past position as an assistant Professor at Virginia Tech, and now back with Cornell as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Horticulture, working with the commercial tree fruit industry in NY.  As the Food Safety Modernization Act nears compliance deadlines for larger growers, in addition to ever increasing 3rd-party food safety audit requirements for the fresh produce industry, Listeria has been the major news-grabber causing countless recalls, with many leading to foodborne illness and millions of dollars of loss for the fresh produce industry.  Dr. Hanrahan will close the session with how growers can use orchard management to restrict foodborne pathogen contamination and proliferation.  Dr. Hanrahan will address Listeria from the critical storage and packinghouse side in the farm food safety plan writing session on Tuesday, a GAPs workshop for both fruit and vegetable growers that requires a separate registration.



Wednesday, January 18, 2017 |1:15 pm-2:30pm

Session organized by Megan Burley, CCE Erie County


Without a viable labor force agriculture as we know it may cease to exist.  This session has been developed to encourage conversation about the labor sources that we have and what information and services are available to farmers seeking farm labor.  Mary Jo Dudley, Director of the Cornell Farmworker Program, will be giving an overview of a collaborative project between Cornell, farmers and their workers, to develop culturally appropriate training tools that can bridge differences between cultures and strengthen the workforce.  In addition, Laura Cardoso and Belen Ledzema, Agriculture labor specialists for the NYS Department of Labor, will give an introduction to the NYS Department of Labor Employment Services and programs they have in place for agriculture producers. Topics will include the H-2A Program, recruiting assistance and referrals the NYS Career Centers, supplementing your labor, and time available to answer any questions related to agricultural labor in New York State.


2017 Worker Protection Standard (WPS) Update

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 | 3:15 pm – 4:30 pm

Session organized by Maire Ullrich, CCE Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture Program


EPA’s Worker Protection Standard regulations have been changed for 2017.  Changes to the WPS regulations include: new no-entry application-exclusion zones, new training requirements, new posting requirements and others.  Come to the 2017 NYS Producers Expo on Wednesday, January 18th from 3:15 to 4:30 to learn more how to stay in compliance in the upcoming season.  NYS DEC PCSII, Donald Nelson, will address the group with the new regulations and how to conform to the new regulations.


Farmers Market Federation

Wednesday and Thursday, January 18 and 19, 2017

Session organized by Diane Eggert, Farmers Market Federation of NY


Small family farms are highly dependent on direct marketing to sell the majority of their farm products. But are they reaching their full potential? The Direct Marketing sessions at the NYS Producers Expo will help farmers to increase their customer base, develop their marketing skills and build greater sales with their direct marketing outlets. The sessions will look at building a marketing plan for your farm, effective use of social media to build a loyal customer base, understanding farmers market currencies, understanding the science behind pricing for retail success and understanding and catering to the various ethnic cultures in your markets. These sessions, offered January 18 and 19, will grow direct marketing farmers’ ability to reach their full income potential.


Wildlife Management

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 | 1:45 pm- 3:00 pm

Session organized by Darcy Telenko, CCE Cornell Vegetable Program and Megan Burley, CCE Erie County


Wildlife damage is a persistent problem for vegetable and fruit producers. Many growers are attempting proactive measures, but continue to have mixed results and continued crop losses. We have invited Dr. Catherine Lindell, Associate Professor in the Integrative Biology Department, Center for Global Change and Earth Observations, Michigan State University, to present her findings in best management options of birds in cropping systems as she is the coordinator of a national project on limiting bird damage to fruit crops and leads research on estimating damage assessments, and observational and experimental field work. Dr. Paul Curtis, Extension Wildlife Specialist in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University, will continue the discussion and address wildlife management options in vegetable crops.


Tree Fruit – Technology in the Orchard

Thursday January 19, 2017 | 8:30 am -9:45 am

Session organized by Matt Wells, CCE Lake Ontario Fruit Team


Technology in orchards continues to evolve and “high-tech” tools are becoming more common.  There is a lot of excitement in agriculture around the potential use of drones and drones offer a new way to move and work in an orchard setting.  However, the technology that is moving Ag into “high-tech” is sensory technology and data analysis.  Jim Meyers, Senior Vice President of Technology and Operations of Noukatech, Inc. will be giving a two-part presentation on the present and future states of high-tech in orchards using advanced sensors, robotics and data processing.  Matt Wells from Cornell Cooperative Extension will be sharing his research and knowledge on the present and future states of harvest mechanization.  Harvest labor is the single largest cost to farms today and sourcing highly skilled seasonal labor is difficult.  Today there are labor savings options for tree fruit growers and the future may be brighter as robotic pickers are no longer far-fetched.


Beginning Farmer

Thursday, January 19, 2017 | 8:30 am – 9:45 am

Session organized by Megan Burley, CCE Erie County

As a beginning farmer there are many options to explore when it comes to marketing.  During this session two farmers will provide information about the challenges and successes in selling through different models.  Dan Roleofs, owner of Arden Farm, a certified organic farm in East Aurora, will lead a discussion about his CSA and his expansion of sales to the WNY Food Hub.  Mayda Pozentides, the owner of Groundwork Market Garden, a two-acre urban farm on Genesee Street in Buffalo, will discuss why she choose urban farming and her model for marketing including a CSA and restaurant sales.


Marketing Social Media/Apps

Thursday, January 19, 2017 |10:30 am- 11:45 am

Session organized by Megan Burley, CCE Erie County


Are you liked, followed, and reposted?  What do these terms me to you and the success of your business?  During this session you will hear from Danielle Fleckenstein, manager of the social media marketing for Beak and Skiff. With 27,000+ likes on FaceBook Danielle will give an overview on how Beak and Skiff connect with consumers utilizing social media. The topic of how social media generates sales for your business will also be covered by Megan Burley, owner of Burley Berries, who has utilized Social Media as her only source of marketing on their farm.


Climate Smart Farming: Using Climate-Based Decision Tools to Prepare for Climate Variability and Change

Thursday, January 19, 2016 |9:00-10:15 AM

Session organized by Allison Chatrchyan, Jonathan Lambert, and Art DeGaetano, Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solution


This session will provide an update on the changing climate and its impacts to agriculture, and will focus on the predictions for short and long-term climate change, as well as on the tools available for applying climate information for agricultural purposes. We will provide an overview of the science behind climate change and give the most up to date predictions for short and long term climate conditions in the Northeast. We will also have a detailed look into the Climate Smart Farming (CSF) Decision Tools, aimed at allowing farmers and agricultural stakeholders in the Northeast to deal with the challenges of climate variability and change, while taking advantage of opportunities.  Attendees will be able to interact with these tools in a hands-on session, and they will have the opportunity to discuss tool uses and provide their input on the tools with the creators as well as other farmers and ag stakeholders.


This session is organized by the Cornell Climate Smart Farming (CSF) Program and CSF Extension Team, and sponsored by the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions (CICSS). For more information, please see: http://climatesmartfarming.org.


Onions: Ensuring High Quality in Small-Scale Production

Thursday, January 19, 2017 | 11:00 am to 12:15 pm

Session organized by Christine Hoepting, CCE Cornell Vegetable Program


This year we are taking a break from large-scale onion production and will focus on ensuring high quality onions on a small-scale.  The feature presentation will be on producing high quality plug transplants, which will be presented by Kevin Vander Kooi, from the University of Guelph, who has been growing high quality onion plug transplants for the Muck Crops Research Station for over 20 years.  The remainder of the program will focus on harvest and post-harvest handling with presentations by CCE Allium Specialists, Crystal Stewart and Christy Hoepting and small-scale onion grower, Jean-Paul Courtens from the Hudson Valley Food Hub.  Onion physiology as it relates to onion maturity and storability will be reviewed and many tips on how to achieve high bulb quality during these phases of production will be shared.


Climate Smart Farming: Efficient Water Management on Your Farm in the Face of Drought

Thursday, January 19, 2016 | 11:00 AM -12:15 PM

Session organized by Allison Chatrchyan, Jonathan Lambert, and Art DeGaetano, Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solution


This session will provide an overview of effective water management strategies that farmers can take advantage of to respond to drought and future climate trends in the Northeast. Farmers will need to manage their water resources more carefully now and in the future due to climate impacts such as short-term drought and more extreme rainfall.  We will give farmers a detailed look at different water resource management strategies, including the new Climate Smart Farming (CSF) Irrigation Scheduler.  We will also provide an overview of other resources available, and have ample time for interaction with the CSF Irrigation Scheduler and CSF website.


This session is organized by the Cornell Climate Smart Farming (CSF) Program and CSF Extension Team, and sponsored by the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions (CICSS). For more information, please see: http://climatesmartfarming.org.


Hard Cider

Thursday January 19, 2017 |1:45 pm – 4:30 pm

Session organized by Matt Wells, Lake Ontario Fruit Team


The NY Hard Cider Industry continues to grow due to strong consumer demand.  There are many hard cider start-ups and many more folks considering giving it a go.  Micah Martin from Cornell University will discuss his research on using NY desert varieties to make an excellent hard cider.  Greg Peck also from Cornell will be sharing his knowledge of cider apples and giving and introduction to tannins, an important component to make traditional tasting ciders.  For those attendees considering growing their own cider apples or growing for the cider industry, Alan Cummins from Cummins Nursery will discuss the growth aspects (both good and bad) of the more popular hard cider varieties.  Following these talks there will be a tasting of NY’s best hard ciders.


Cole Crops

Thursday, January 19, 2017 | 3:15 pm to 4:30 pm

Session organized by Christine Hoepting, CCE Cornell Vegetable Program


New this year is a session dedicated to diversified Cole crops without the main focus being on large-scale cabbage production.  In light of the Eastern Broccoli Project whose objective is to develop a year round local supply of high quality broccoli in the Eastern U.S., Project Leader, Dr. Thomas Bjorkman will provide an update on the project including heat tolerant varieties and tips for plant population/fertility and post-harvest handling.  Cornell University recently launched a new breeding program for kale and M.Sc. candidate, Hannah Swegarden with Dr. Phil Griffith’s breeding program will share how they are breeding diverse quality traits in kale for the emerging Northeast markets.  Finally, Christy Hoepting with the Cornell Cooperative Extension Vegetable Program will give an update on swede midge spread and management as issues of this relatively new pest of brassicas have increased recently in New York.