A perennial favorite of vegetable growers in West Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Colorado will return with new vigor Jan. 14.

That's the date for the High Plains Vegetable Conference at West Texas A&M University in Canyon.

“This is a rebirth of the former West Texas Vegetable Conference, organized each year by my predecessor, Dr. Roland Roberts,” said Russ Wallace, assistant professor of horticulture and Texas Cooperative Extension vegetable specialist at Texas A&M's Research and Extension Center in Lubbock.

“We expect more than 150 growers from four states, as well as agribusiness and industry representatives, county agents, master gardeners, consultants and shippers,” Wallace said.

“Participants can earn CEUs towards their pesticide applicator licenses. Certified crop advisers can earn professional development credits, and certified master gardeners can earn credits toward their vegetable specialty certification.”

The day-long conference will be at the West Texas A&M University Alumni Banquet Facility (located at the corner of North 3rd and 25th streets). Registration over coffee and donuts begins at 7:45 a.m. and costs $25 per person, which includes lunch, conference handouts, and admission to the agri-industry trade show.

The first morning session will cover crop pests, with presentations on vegetable diseases, insect control, nematode problems, chemical and alternative weed control, and information resources to aid management decisions.

The second morning session will cover risk management, an update of current Texas Department of Agriculture rules and regulations, and an industry perspective on pest management.

The keynote luncheon speaker is Ken Mattingly, owner-operator of M-B Farms, Inc., a 1,700-acre vegetable farm in LeRoy, N.Y.

Mattingly will discuss how commodity groups, universities, and industry work together on vegetable research to benefit growers in New York state.

Speakers at the first afternoon session will discuss “what's new in vegetable crops,” such as results from Texas A&M's 2002 statewide watermelon trials; yellow vine disease in High Plains pumpkins; and updates on New Mexico State University's chile pepper program and potato varieties for 2003.

The second afternoon session will include presentations on soil microbes and plant health, successful crop rotation strategies on the High Plains, and irrigation and water quality issues.

“This is a valuable opportunity for growers, market gardeners, crop consultants, agri-industry and shippers to get together and discuss the state of their industry on the High Plains,” Wallace said. “It's also a great way to update your production skills and knowledge with new information from many scientists, Extension specialists and experts.”

Non-Extesnsion sponsors include the High Plains Vegetable Growers and Shippers Council, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, West Texas A&M, and the Texas Department of Agriculture.

For more information, contact Wallace at 806-746-6101 or a local county Extension office.