From the Editor: July 2012

June 20, 2012
Written by
With the start of this month’s Ohio Short Course, the 2012 trade show and conference season is well underway. In addition to business cards and running shoes, be sure to bring your camera and your crop production questions. You’ll never have a better opportunity to get them answered.

The camera is the key. Sure, there are dozens (often hundreds) of new varieties or pieces of equipment to photograph, but the camera can play another role in diagnostics of crop problems. And the advice is free. Now we have your attention.

Trade show exhibitors are great technical resources. Their experience and expertise is invaluable. If you have a problem, they have a solution. Just ask.

And here’s a case in point.

A few years ago, I was present when a grower approached a breeder rep to talk about a specific crop issue. The grower described flower quality issues he had experienced in only one of his greenhouses, and asked about measures to avoid them in future. The rep was great, listing a couple of possible reasons – and the probable prime problem – to help ease the grower’s mind. He suggested the grower contact companies at the early stages of any problem, perhaps even with digital photos that could be examined or forwarded to other specialists for a “second opinion.”

This scenario plays itself out hundreds of times a day on trade show floors. That’s why if you’re attending a conference, it’s a good idea to jot down some questions and bring along your camera with crop photos you’d like to discuss.

Most exhibitors have a laptop on hand, so growers can also bring along a memory stick to plug in for a clearer view of the problem.

A decent digital camera should be a daily tool in any greenhouse. Photos should be added to production “recipe books” each year to help track crop progress in subsequent years. If Week 12 photos next year don’t match Week 12 photos this year, there may be problems. The sooner a problem is noted and addressed, the better the chance of full recovery.

Dr. Mohyuddin Mirza, formerly a greenhouse crop specialist with Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, retired a few years ago, but remains an industry consultant (and the newest Greenhouse Canada regular feature writer). One of his trademark talks involves presenting photos in which attendees are asked to guess the crop problem. Sometimes it’s an obvious problem; other times it’s quite subtle and requires a few more images. He leads audience members to diagnose the problem in a step-by-step fashion. It’s always a fun session, and a great learning experience.

Conferences offer convenient one-stop shopping for new varieties, technologies, suppliers and services. Speaker programs offer the latest and greatest ways of growing and marketing plants and produce. If you don’t attend at least one conference each year, you’re missing out on new opportunities to reduce crop challenges and improve profitability.

Like a digital camera, conferences help you focus on success.

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