Mississippi's fruit and vegetable growers can take part in the annual Deep South Fruit and Vegetable Conference and Trade Show Dec. 6-7 in Mobile, Ala.

Organizers expect about 500 people to attend this multi-state meeting, including growers from Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas and Tennessee. The conference is hosted by the individual states' vegetable growers associations, including the Mississippi Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, in cooperation with the extension services and departments of agriculture of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.

“Each state used to have its own conference until seven years ago when growers in Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas organized a multi-state meeting. Alabama joined later, and growers from Tennessee and Texas attend to learn the latest trends and production pointers,” said David Nagel, Mississippi State University Extension horticulture professor. “The conference grows and diversifies each year.”

Topics of all-day sessions at the conference include vegetable, fruit, blueberry and organic production; and agrotourism. Agrotourism is the use of farms as attractions for school groups and others, by offering such things as pumpkin patches and corn mazes.

Nagel said half-day sessions will focus on labor issues, citrus production, cut-flower production and high tunnel production. High tunnels are unheated greenhouse structures used to extend the growing season.

New this year is an all-day session on “The Future of Farming — New Growers and Small Acreage Farmers.” It will include a panel discussion of “Mentors in Support of Farmers” and information on getting started in the produce business.

A commercial trade show is also part of the conference, and it will feature farm supply vendors. The meeting will end with a “Taste of the South” reception.

The conference features farmers from each state as well as speakers from universities. The pre-registration form and program can be found on the Deep South Fruit and Vegetable Conference's Web site http://www.deepsouthfruitveg.com.