URBANA, Ill. – When downstate peach growers need a new cold-hardy variety, or when pumpkin fields are threatened by pests, growers rely on the experts at University of Illinois Extension.

Extension educators have hosted in-person specialty crop schools in Southern Illinois for decades, offering regionally-focused updates and practical tools that small-scale and commercial specialty growers can use in the field.

“Extension is still the primary source of research-based information in the specialty crop industry,” says Elizabeth Wahle, an Extension commercial agriculture educator based in Collinsville. “There aren’t certified crop advisors for specialty crop production; we are it.”

Now, new and experienced tree fruit, small fruit, and vegetable producers will have access to information about pest updates and control options, cultivar recommendations, and other production details through a virtual conference on Feb.10.

The Southern Illinois Fruit and Vegetable School webinar conference will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. CT. Topics include peach and apple disease and insect update, climate trends, pumpkin variety trials, and tomato field production. For a full list of sessions or to register online for free, visit go.illinois.edu/2021Fruit-VegSchool.

The presentations are pre-recorded and will be made available to registered participants for future reference. Closed captioning is available.  

“People can watch from the comfort and safety of their home or office, while still being able to interact with speakers in a live Q&A following each session,” Wahle says.

Sessions will be presented by Illinois Extension Specialists Mohammad Babadoost and Kacie Athey, Illinois Extension Educators Elizabeth Wahle, Bronwyn Aly, Katie Bell, Nathan Johanning, Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford, and University of Missouri Extension Horticulture Field Specialist Pat Byers.

Two spray production publications, Vegetable Production Guide and Fruit Production Guide, are available for mail order during registration at an additional cost.

For more information contact Elizabeth Wahle at wahle@illinois.edu or call (618) 344-4230. 

University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Elizabeth Wahle at wahle@illinois.edu. Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time for the requested accommodation.

SOURCESElizabeth Wahle, Commercial Agriculture Educator, Illinois Extension
WRITEREmily Steele, Media Communications Coordinator, Illinois Extension

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.