Vegetable equipment demonstrations coming to 2018 Ag Progress Days

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Farmers looking to diversify by growing and marketing vegetables can get a good look at the equipment needed to launch a successful vegetable operation by attending Penn State's Ag Progress Days, Aug. 14-16.

A new vegetable demonstration area will show visitors the latest equipment for planting, harvesting and irrigation, while an adjacent plot will contain the end result — vegetables grown using the featured equipment.

Vegetable production is becoming big business in Pennsylvania. According to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics, the Commonwealth is among the top 10 producers in the country for several crops, including bell peppers, cantaloupes, pumpkins and snap beans.

"Sixteen wholesale auctions are scattered throughout the state to sell fresh produce to roadside stands and grocery stores," said Tom Butzler, Penn State Extension horticulture educator and coordinator of the vegetable demonstrations at Ag Progress Days. "Numerous processors move crops such as potatoes, tomatoes and sweet corn from the field into the store aisles in cans and frozen foods."

As further evidence of the potential for vegetable production, Butzler cites the four-day Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Conference, held annually in late January or early February in Hershey.

"Almost every session has attendees spilling out into the hallways as growers look to educate themselves on the latest innovations and marketing ideas," he said.

Butzler noted that Ag Progress Days — the state's largest outdoor agricultural exposition — typically is heavy on traditional agricultural endeavors, such as row-crop and animal production. 

"But with the increase in interest over the decades," he said, "it's time that equipment specifically for vegetable growers gets its share of the spotlight."

During the three days, attendees can observe how equipment pulls and covers beds with plastic, as well as how that plastic is removed at the end of the growing season.

Plastic mulch removal

Workers remove plastic mulch after the harvest of vegetables. New demonstrations at Ag Progress Days, Aug. 14-16, will feature equipment used in various facets of vegetable production.

Image: Courtesy of Tom Butzler

"Visitors also will see how transplants are inserted into the raised beds and how they are maintained throughout the growing season to address pest issues," Butzler said.

He pointed out that vegetables are composed mostly of water — for example, tomato and cantaloupe are 94 percent and 91 percent water, respectively.

"Getting water to these plants has become high tech, and some of this equipment also will be showcased during these Ag Progress Days demonstrations," said Butzler. 

The vegetable equipment demonstrations will occur at the western edge of the exhibit field along Demo Alley, where West Ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th streets end. Beyond the demonstration area, equipment can be viewed throughout the Ag Progress Days site at various vendor exhibits.

Sponsored by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, Ag Progress Days is held at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs, 9 miles southwest of State College on Route 45. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 14; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 15; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 16. Admission and parking are free.

For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days website. Twitter users can find and share information about the event by using the hashtag #agprogressdays, and the event also can be found on Facebook (@AgProgressDays).

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Last Updated July 16, 2018