Ag Progress Days to include vegetable equipment demos

Vegetable production is becoming big business in Pennsylvania, and the numbers seem to back it up.

According to the latest USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service numbers, the commonwealth ranks in the top 10 in the U.S. for several crops (bell peppers, cantaloupes, pumpkins, and snap beans). Sixteen auctions are scattered throughout the state to sell fresh produce to road-side stands and grocery stores. Numerous processors move crops such as potatoes, tomatoes, and sweet corn from the field into the store aisles in cans and frozen foods.

And then there is the anecdotal evidence. Look no further than the four-day Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Conference held in Hershey in late January/early February. Almost every session has attendees spilling out into the hallways as growers look to educate themselves on the latest innovations and marketing ideas.

Now the vegetable industry will be showcasing technology at Penn State’s Ag Progress Days (APD). Held over the course of three days in August (Aug. 14-16, 2018), APD is one of the nation’s largest outdoor agricultural exposition. Typically, the event is heavy on traditional agricultural endeavors, row crops and animal production. But with the increase in interest over the decades, equipment specifically for vegetable growers will get a share of the spotlight.

During the three days, attendees will get a chance to observe how beds are pulled and covered with plastic. Of course, the equipment will also demonstrate how that plastic is removed at the end of the growing season. But there is a lot of activity that goes on in vegetable production between laying and removal of plastic. Equipment will show how transplants are inserted into the raised beds and how they are maintained throughout the growing season to address pest issues.

Vegetables are composed of mostly water; for example, tomato and cantaloupe are 94% and 91% water respectively. Getting water to these plants has become high tech, and some of this equipment will also be showcased during APD and the demonstrations.

The demonstration of equipment will occur at the western edge along Demo Alley, where West 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th streets end. Beyond the demo area, equipment can be viewed throughout the APD site with various vendors.

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Tom Butzler is a horticulture educator with the Pennsylvania State University Cooperative Extension Service and may be reached at 570-726-0022.

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