Texas High Tunnel Conference, October 8

HT Strawberries 4.12.13

The Texas High Tunnel Conference (October 8th ) and the Texas Fruit Conference (October 6th & 7th) will both be held this year at the Hilton Garden Inn & Conference Center in College Station.  The Hilton Garden Inn location allows us to continue to grow the number exhibitors and attendees.  Thanks to all those who supported the conferences last year; we had overwhelming positive comments from our attendees.

Pesticide CEU’s will be offered at both programs.

The two-day 3rd Annual Texas Fruit Conference will provide timely topics and practical fruit growing and marketing information for new and experienced fruit growers, covering a diverse slate of topics and orchard crops!  The one-day Texas High Tunnel Conference will explore growing strawberries and other high value horticultural crops in season-extending technology. Growers considering new/alternative crops and marketing seasons will be exposed to the opportunities and challenges that high tunnels can offer.

Our online registration site is operational and you can sign up for one or both conferences at: http://agriliferegister.tamu.edu/.

Click Here for information regarding costs of conference registration, hotel reservations, and presentation schedules for both conferences:

Texas High Tunnel Conference 2014 Agenda

2014 Texas Fruit Conference Program

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2014 Texas Fruit Conference Program, October 6-7

Logo 2014

Make plans to attend the 3rd annual Texas Fruit Conference, October 6th & 7th, Hilton Garden Inn, College Station, Texas

What is it? The Texas Fruit Conference is an educational program by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, aimed at bringing together commercial and recreational fruit growers from around the state to hear and discuss the challenges and successes of fruit growing in Texas.

This program offers valuable information updates to seasoned fruit growers while providing persons with no experiences in orchard management a place to learn how to get started.

This 3rd Fall Fruit Conference in Aggieland features exciting topics:-

¨ New grower session, Monday afternoon—site prep., soil diseases, water quality, bare-root nursery stock, peach varieties, & marketing  considerations

¨ Networking reception, Monday evening, Hilton Garden Inn

¨ General session—olives, pears, citrus, blackberries, pomegranates, cotton root rot management, muscadines

¨ Pomegranate fruit variety tasting! Sample some of the newest pomegranate varieties in Texas trials.

Featured Speakers:

  • Dr. Arlie Powell, Retired Auburn University Extension Specialist and fruit grower with Petals from the Past Nursery, Jemison, Alabama—will discuss alternative blackberry training and locally grown fruit
  • Dr. George Ray McEachern will discuss history & potential of pear production in Texas
  • Dr. David Byrne—peach varieties for Texas
  • Gary Marburger, Marburger Farms-Fredericksburg—Experiences in fruit growing and marketing
  • Larry Don Womack—How to be successful with bare-root nursery stock

AgriLife Extension Speakers: Larry Stein, Jim Kamas, Monte Nesbitt, David Appel, Sheila McBride, Erfan Vafaie, Justin Scheiner, Marco Palma

Click Here to view the full program: 2014 Texas Fruit Conference Program

When is it? Registration begins 12 Noon, Monday, October 6th, presentations 1:00 pm-5:00 pm; Tuesday October 7th; presentations 8:30 am-5:00 pm.

Where is it? Hilton Garden Inn Conference Center; 3081 University Dr E, Bryan, TX 77802; Phone:(979) 703-7919; http://hiltongardeninn3.hilton.com/en/hotels/texas/hilton-garden-inn-college-station-CLLGIGI/index.html

Guest Room Rates: $129; Deadline to reserve rooms –September 8th

Alternate Hotel: Ramada Inn, College Station, 506 Earl Rudder Freeway South, College Station, TX 77840 (Hwy 6 & University behind Olive Garden & Home Depot on the feeder road); Reservation by phone only (979)-846-0300. The group name is: “Fruit Conference”

How do I register? Online Registration is at http://agriliferegister.tamu.edu/

Cost $80.00/person online before 9/25/14. On-site registration $90.00

Or Combine registration with Texas High Tunnel Conference ($55/person), Wednesday October 8th, for $125/person for both events


For more information? Contact Monte Nesbitt (979) 862-1218, MLNesbitt@tamu.edu


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2013 Texas Fruit Conference Agenda Posted

As a follow up to last week’s post, I wanted to add the finalized agenda to the two events that are scheduled for the end of September, first two days of October.  Please feel free to contact Monte, Larry or me if you have any questions about our the fruit conference or Russ Wallace if you need more information on the High Tunnel ConferenceTex Fruit Conf 2013_Page_1

Tex Fruit Conf 2013_Page_3

Tex Fruit Conf 2013_Page_2

Opens PDF of High Tunnel Flyer

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2nd Annual Texas Fruit Conference

Make Plans to Attend the Second Annual Texas Fruit Conference! And Texas High Tunnel Conference!

Texas Fruit Conference Banner

Two great educational events for fresh fruit producers and enthusiasts in Texas!

Dates are set as follows

Texas Fruit Conference; Monday September 30th & Tuesday, October 1st:  As we did with our first meeting in 2012, we are developing a 1 & ½ day educational program that will provide timely topics and practical fruit growing and marketing information for new and experienced fruit growers, covering a diverse slate of topics and orchard crops!

Conference Conveners: Monte Nesbitt, Larry Stein & Jim Kamas, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension


Texas High Tunnel Conference; Wednesday, October 2nd; This one day program will explore growing strawberries and other high value horticultural crops in season-extending high tunnels. Growers considering new/alternative crops and marketing seasons will be exposed to the opportunities and challenges that high tunnels offer.

Conference Convener: Russ Wallace, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension


Both  Events To Be Held at the Best Western Old Town Center Hotel, Bryan, Texas.

Website:  http://book.bestwestern.com/bestwestern/US/TX/Bryan-hotels/BEST-WESTERN-PREMIER-Old-Town-Center/Hotel-Overview.do?propertyCode=44623

Conference Room Rate for this event is $93.00/ night.


On-site/In-Person Registration set at $90 for Texas Fruit Conference ($80 online) & $55 for High Tunnel Conference.

Special Combo Online Registration for both events (2.5 days): $125.00

(additional discounts for AgriLife Agents)

Registration—Online Registration will open in mid July at http://agriliferegister.tamu.edu

Join Us in October!!


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Fruit Growing in Egypt

I have been remiss in not posting more often, but its been a whirlwind trip here with much to see and do.  The fruit growers here are amazing and what is perhaps most remarkable is the number and kinds of crops growing side by side.    Here is what I have been seeing on a daily basis. Seen a number of first class fruit nurseries growing peach, pear, pomegranate, all kinds of citrus, mango, you name it.


And here are just a few more fields.


Many different kinds of table grapes,  mostly grown for exportIMAG0656

In some places the groundwater has been pumped so extensively that the salinity has increased to the point where peaches and grapes can no longer be grown.  In this farm, such former crops have been replaced by 400 fadan (4200 sq. meters or 1.038 acres) of pomegranates.  The grower plans to increase the planting to 1000 fadan withing the next couple of years.


Same farm, here Citrus is interplanted with Date Palm


And in many places, banana is a good rotational crop, one year to establish, harvest two years, then back to long term perennial crops






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May 21

Its Friday, the first day of the weekend here and its been a hectic week.  Did some touring this morning and early afternoon, but finally have a chance to get a few more posts in on what I have been seeing.  Day two in the field was a good one as well.  Started out in a peach nursery operation east of Sadat City where Nemaguard seed are planted out in a nursery row, budded, then forced to produce new peach and apricot trees for commercial fruit production.

IMAG0212Above is the nursery as its being budded.  After fifteen days, the trees are topped to force the scion buds and create a budded tree.  Trees to the right have just been budded, trees to the left have just been forced.


Budding is hard work, and while I was having tea with the nursery owner, the budding crew was taking a well deserved break with tea and the shisha.


On to other fields, the owners, brothers, nephews, uncles, there was quite the crowd.  First class peach and grape operation.  Well, that’s what I was shown and asked to help with, but there are  mango, banana, apples, you name it grown all around.  All with windbreak, superb weed control and insect and disease management, I mean these guys have their act together.  All going for a specific window of marketing in the EU. Here I am with the managing nephew and his staff of engineers.

IMAG0236The professional field crew and the younger owners tend to prefer western dress.  They are extremely bright, really know their pomology and viticulture and have a great sense of humor.  I really enjoy these interactions personally and professionally.  The older management crowd (uh, I guess that means my age) and many field workers still wear more traditional clothing.  There is a mosque on most farms where workers and owners pray together.  Here, another tea time with the big bosses.IMAG0228

You get a real sense of reality driving around.  Where cultivation has been established, the growers and the land is very productive, in the western part of the delta, its ground water that tends to a bit saline, but in the eastern part, its water from a series of channels off of the Nile.  Here is what it looks like where it is not cultivated. And, oh, yes the palm was planted.


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First Day in the Field

Had my first day in the field today, about 90km north of Cairo toward Alexandria. And this is who I am as they introduce me:


What used to be called the desert road which was until 30 years ago, just that, sand.  At that time, land sold for 50 Egyptian pounds/fadan,  the equivalent of 75 cents per acre.  Water and drip irrigation has changed that and now the land goes for $10,000 per acre, up.  They started me off with their high end producers, all for export to the EU.  First class operation.  Visited peach orchards which had just completed harvest and seedless table grape vineyard, all trained on overhead pergola and partially covered with plastic where harvest was about two weeks from being completed.



We talked varieties, zinc and iron nutrition, timing and placement of nitrogen and reviewed their pest management plans, but other than an exchange of ideas, I had no concrete help for these folks… they don’t need it.  Their major limitations are labor and shipping logistics.  Any of this sound familiar?


Windbreaks are planted everywhere.  April and May are the windy months when fruit is present and for export, everything has to be cosmetically perfect.


And, I would be remiss if I did not add how incredibly hospitable the Egyptian people have been to me.  Here I am with Mr. Hawdy Muhammed, farm manager of Belco enjoying pita, spiced tuna, buffalo cheese and fava beans and pickled peppers.  Yum.

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Greetings from Cairo

Had an opportunity to volunteer for a US AID project in Egypt, so I took it.  Will be working with peach, plum and apricot growers in the Nile delta.  Departed Friday, through JFK, to Milan to Cairo.  Got here yesterday, good nights sleep and its Sunday now, first day of the work week here and have my briefing at noon.



Should be an interesting two weeks and I hope to add photos every couple of days while I am here.jk

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Peach problems

Scott Korcz writes in and adds some photos about a problem with his ‘Harvester’ peach tree this spring.  Here are the photos he supplied



You can see that Scott has a good mulch layer down to conserve moisture and eliminate weed competition, but this tree has a couple of problems going on.  First, this tree is showing classical symptoms of insufficient chilling.  These trees should grow out of this during the summer, but the lack of lateral budbreak will need to be addressed in the next dormant pruning.

Also have some nutrient deficiencies going on here.  These trees need nitrogen.  The general yellow color of the older leaves tells us its time to add a little N.  With a wood chip mulch, it will be important to water it in well so the nitrogen travels through the chips and down into the root zone where it is available to the plant.  I also see both iron and zinc deficiency on the newer foliage.  Iron chelate applied to the soil and watered in well will overcome the iron problem, but the zinc problem is a little tougher to deal with on peach trees.  Zinc sulfate can be applied to the soil and watered in, but tends to get tied up pretty quickly in the soil, so frequent applications may be needed.  Zinc sulfate should not be sprayed on peach trees- it will defoliate them.  Over time, as the mulch breaks down, natural chelates will be formed in the soil and this should be less of a problem.  Just another reason to mulch your trees!






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Fruit Grafting Masters

The Womack Family in DeLeon, Texas, is an incredible resource for commercial and casual fruit growers in Texas.  Womack Nursery was started in 1937 by James H. Womack. Larry J. Womack took over in 1964 and still grafts fruit and pecan trees today! His son, Larry Don Womack, currently leads the business which supplies fruit and pecan trees, berries, grapes, graftwood, grafting supplies, roses and some shade and ornamental plants to commercial growers and homeowners alike. They are an important source for appropriate varieties of fruits for the state of Texas.

Womack Nursery hosted an open house, grafting workshop on April 17th at their headquarters west of DeLeon on State Highway 6.  Approximately 56 people got to see and listen to tips and techniques of pecan grafting, including the inlay bark graft, 4-flap graft, and patch bud methods. Many of us in the world of research and extension think we know how to graft, but nurserymen like the Womacks and their skilled laborers are the real “masters of grafting”.  They literally perform these techniques hundreds of thousands of time, and there is a different level of skill and experience that they are able to share.

Womack pic9

Larry J. (background) and Larry Don Womack (foreground) beginning their Spring Grafting Workshop

Womack pic11

Larry J. Womack demonstrates pecan inlay bark graft

Larry Womack grafting pecans

Experienced grafting hands

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