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Stateline Fruit and Vegetable Growers Conference

Rockford 2024
Fresh vegetables
Event Date(s)
Event Time
NIU - Rockford
Event Fee

28th Annual Stateline Fruit and Vegetable Growers Conference - Monday, February 19, 2024 at NIU-Rockford, 8500 E State Street, Rockford, Illinois

University of Illinois Extension is excited to present the 28th Annual Stateline Fruit and Vegetable Growers Conference at NIU-Rockford in Rockford, Illinois. This conference addresses common issues facing fruit and vegetable growers, hoping to provide the most up-to-date information to ensure a successful growing season and business.


The registration fee is $35 per person and $25 for additional employees of the same farm.  This fee includes your choice of 5 different breakouts, a general session, and a boxed lunch from Mary's Market.

Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m. We will start promptly at 9:00 a.m.

*Due to our catering deadline, we cannot provide a lunch for anyone who registers after 12:00 p.m. (noon) on Friday, February 16th. Multiple food options are available within a few miles of the conference center.

9:00 to 9:30 a.m. Welcome
9:30 a.m. A Session

Pumpkins can be a relatively hands-off vegetable...until they are not. This session will lay out a timeline of weed, insect, and disease scouting and management for this long-season fall-favorite.

 Just started or interested in growing blueberries? Learn the basics of blueberries from soil to leaf we will cover history, physiology, nutrition, and pests.

10:15 a.m. B Session

This talk will address challenges posed by diseases affecting both canes and fruit. Learn about the identification of common raspberry diseases, their symptoms, the impact they can have on your raspberry crops, and practical and effective management strategies.

Pest management in high tunnels can be complicated and recent research into non-chemical control techniques, focusing on biological control, will be discussed. This talk will also cover general tomato insect management including conventional and organic control.

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11:15 a.m. C Session

This will be a deeper dive into pruning, nutrition management and variety selection and evaluation.

In the scramble of getting a new farm off the ground, insect management can fall to the wayside until pests get out of control. This session will lay out holistic strategies for managing insects in the first few years of a farm's life, with a focus on incorporating preventative strategies and hacking pest biology for management.

1:00 p.m. D Session

In this presentation our speaker will walk you through identifying and effectively managing fruit diseases. From cultural practices and integrated pest management to disease-resistant cultivars and chemical solutions, we will cover a comprehensive set of tools and techniques to keep your blueberry plants healthy and productive.

Unlock the potential of your farm by exploring the advantages and challenges of integrating livestock. Discover the beneficial role livestock play in agroecosystems - consuming residues and cover crops, cycling nutrients, suppressing weeds, and enhancing soil health. Join this session to delve into strategies for introducing livestock, addressing challenges, and ensuring food safety compliance.

1:45 p.m. Session E

There is always something new to talk about with insects! In 2023, Illinois had the first reports of a new invasive species that could affect fruit production, the spotted lanternfly. In 2024, Illinois will be facing the emergence of at least two sets of periodical cicadas that pose a threat to young fruit trees. Additionally, in 2022 and 2023, we saw higher levels of plum curculio in peaches and have done some further investigations on the life cycle and trapping methods for plum curculio have shed new light on this pest. This talk will dive into the biology and control strategies of all three of these pests.

Strategies for using soil, media, composting, and tissue testing data to make informed on farm decisions. Let us take some of the guesswork out of fertility management by understanding what different testing protocols have to offer our farms in terms of nutrient budget management. We will preview different testing protocols, review actual testing data, and review other nutrient management tools to optimize yield while reducing farm nutrient exports into our watersheds.

Pumpkins can be a great addition to your orchard, farmers market booth, or even your CSA. This session will discuss opportunities, challenges, and decisions you need to make when it comes to setting up your first field. Marketing, varieties, and general production will be covered in this session. 

2:45 p.m. F Joint Session

The continuing evolution of herbicide resistance is one of the most challenging issues that crop producers face. Our understanding of resistance is not keeping pace with the frequency of resistance evolution, making it increasingly difficult to mitigate. This presentation will explore herbicide resistance evolution, illustrate the importance of utilizing multiple methods of control, and discuss fundamental strategies for herbicide use that aid in managing resistance and achieving sufficient weed control.