By Frank Giles
Over the years, the Florida Grower Citrus Show has become the premier event for growers on the East Coast of Florida while drawing growers from other key production regions as well. Last year, AgNet Media purchased the assets of Florida Grower magazine. With that transaction came the show. Since that time, the team at AgNet Media, along with its partners at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), have been exploring ways to make the show an even better experience for growers, vendors and other industry stakeholders.
“When the Florida Grower Citrus Show came under the AgNet Media portfolio, we felt it was a good time to step back and try some new approaches to optimize everyone’s time during the event,” says Robin Loftin, president of AgNet Media. “We appreciate growers are busy, as are the vendors who support the show, so we aim to accomplish a lot in the time we have allotted for the event.”
The show will take place at the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center and the USDA, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory in Fort Pierce on April 13. The facilities, located next door to each other, are home to scientists working hard to find solutions to HLB, making them ideal locations to host the event.
COOKOUT AND COLLABORATION
The new and refreshed Florida Grower Citrus Show will provide plenty of time for growers to network with peers and vendors with an extended lunch period between the educational programs. Lunch will be served cookout-style in a tailgate environment.
“With all the challenges the industry faces right now, we believe it is important that we put on a fun event that gives everyone a chance to connect in a more casual atmosphere,” Loftin says.
The educational sessions will be held in the morning and afternoon. The morning general session will take on big-picture issues that are impacting Florida agriculture. Topics will include the policy and regulatory environment, economic conditions and ways to improve growers’ bottom lines. After lunch, the educational program will focus on the latest research from UF/IFAS and USDA.
“We are developing a program that gets right to the things citrus growers need to move the needle against HLB after a season that was marred by hurricanes,” says Frank Giles, editor-in-chief of AgNet Media. “We are really trying to pack a lot of information into the program that growers will view as useful and new. And we are keeping educational sessions relatively short, so you are not sitting in a chair all day. We are giving some of that time to the lunch break, which is a great educational opportunity in its own right, where growers have time to share their experiences and what they are doing on their farms with one another.”
Another new element of this year’s event will be an educational session focused on vegetable production. This session will feature UF/IFAS and USDA research on key specialty crops grown in Florida.
The vegetable program will be held concurrently with the citrus program in the afternoon. Continuing education units will be offered for both breakout sessions.
“We hope growers come check out the Florida Grower Citrus Show,” Loftin says. “We believe it will be a different and fresh experience that will be a great use of their time.”
Stay tuned for more details.