The Texas Fruit Conference is set for Oct. 28- 29 at the New Braunfels Civic Center, 375 S. Castell Ave., New Braunfels.
Registration will begin at 8 a.m., and presentations begin at 9 a.m. on both days, and an optional tour will be held on Oct. 30. Preregistration for the event is now open with a discount for those signing up for both the conference and tour.
The conference will cost $100, and the conference and tour combo will be $110 per person when registered online. In-person registration on the day of the event will be $110 for the conference and $40 for the tour. Lunch is provided all three days.
The event will feature 15 different speakers and 18 presentations covering topics including peaches, strawberries, citrus, grapes and blackberries.
On Oct. 28, John Clark, Ph.D., distinguished professor of horticulture at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, will be a featured speaker discussing blackberry production. He will give two presentations over the “Advances in blackberry breeding and global production” and “Factors influencing fruit breeding and new releases.”
“Dr. Clark has been influential in Texas blackberry production,” said Monte Nesbitt, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service program specialist for horticulture, College Station. “Texas blackberry producers are heavily influenced by what he has done to improve thornlessness, firmness and disease resistance in blackberry varieties. His introduction of primo-cane bearing varieties is still reshaping how we grow blackberries and when we harvest them. We are excited to have him participate in our educational program this year.”
Nesbitt said the economics of blackberries are very good.
“It is a crop suitable for Texas, is economically sustainable and is a healthy fruit. It offers a lot of opportunity to established growers and those just getting started as new landowners who want to get into an edible food crop. A half-acre of blackberries is an economically viable unit farm size, and people are willing to pay above the norm for fresh blackberries.”
Other topics include peach culture, advances in culture and breeding of peaches in China and the transplanting of mature peach trees.
Participants will also hear discussions on biological insect management, water management and the use of cover crops in orchard floors. Continuing education units will be available for those holding a Texas Pesticide Applicator’s License.
The tour on Oct. 30 will focus on protecting the culture and temperature modification of fruit crops. It will be held in Fredericksburg and will visit Studebaker Farms, near Blumenthal, and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Viticulture and Fruit Lab in Fredericksburg.
“Perennial fruit crops, orchards and vineyards are what our conference is about– there is a little bit of something for anybody as far as fruit interest,” Nesbitt said. “It is really tailored towards the perennial, semi-permanent approach to growing something, like peaches. Farming peaches, pears or blackberries is a multi-year, long-term decision. So we want to help people get prepared for a long-term commitment to edible crops, like fruits, and the healthy benefits that go along with it.”