The 2021 IFTA Annual Conference, Know Your Farm, Deliver the Best, will be held from Monday to Wednesday, February 22-24, as five online sessions that mirror the usual conference format - two educational sessions on Day 1, a tour of orchards and research plots on Day 2, and two educational sessions on Day 3.
The IFTA Conference Organizing and Education Committees have worked hard to achieve as traditional an annual conference as possible, as well as creating new opportunities to maintain a high return-on-investment value under such virtual conference conditions and a unique opportunity to reach a wider international grower audience.
As you will see below, the program content to be covered during the conference is well worth the cost of IFTA membership and the registration fee: the value of one new idea generated by any of the five sessions will pay conference participants back many times over.
Monday February 22
"Morning Session" - Know Your Farm Financials
7:30-10:30 Pacific 8:30-11:30 Mountain 9:30-12:30 Central 10:30-1:30 Eastern 11:30-2:30 Atlantic
Karen Lewis moderates this session that will focus on identifying regional planting trends and labor and market economics important for new and current orchard planning decisions, with panels of leading growers from across North America that will help all tree fruit growers "know your critical orchard numbers". The panel will discuss and demonstrate what numbers they use and how they utilize them to measure performance and execute actions to improve profitability. There will also be an opportunity for live questions and answers at the end of the session with the IFTA Conference membership.
"Afternoon Session" - Know Your Farm Trellis/Support Structures
11:30-2:30 Pacific 12:30-3:30 Mountain 1:30-4:30 Central 2:30-5:30 Eastern 3:30-6:30 Atlantic
Precision orchards for all temperate tree fruits - apples, cherries, pears, peaches - increasingly utilize structures for supporting crop loads, precisely orienting the canopy for capturing light and/or facilitating mechanization and sensing technologies, accommodating netting or plastic orchard coverings to modify climatic factors or exclude pests, etc. Too often, these investments can be severely damaged if not engineered structurally for the appropriate loads and weather extremes that seem to be increasing in frequency. Tim Welsh moderates this session that will review some orchard structural failures across North America, cover the basics of support structure design and engineering, and include a panel of leading growers discussing specific orchard structure applications and goals. The growers and engineers also will be available at the end of the session for live questions and answers with the Conference participants.
Tuesday February 23
"Orchard Tour" - Deliver the Best: Honeycrisp Case Study/Orchard Tour
8:00-12:15 Pacific 9:00-1:15 Mountain 10:00-2:15 Central 11:00-3:15 Eastern 12:00-4:15 Atlantic
This year's Conference offers unique opportunities for the traditional IFTA orchard/research tour - we'll meet five excellent growers of 'Honeycrisp' in their orchards, videos recorded both at harvest and during dormant pruning! And Conference attendees can join the tour in the warmth of their own home or office (wherever you access your virtual connection to the IFTA conference), unless you really want the typical IFTA experience by going outside to watch the videos on a laptop or smartphone!
Each orchard video - one each from Washington, Michigan, New York, and Nova Scotia - features extensive in-orchard discussions and demonstrations of what each grower has learned that has made their 'Honeycrisp' production successful. Between each video, the scientific leaders of the USDA-funded Root-to-Fruit nationwide apple rootstock research project will provide short, concise summaries of their 4-year project results that relate directly to 'Honeycrisp' production strategies. At the conclusion of the videos, Greg Lang will moderate a live question and answer session between the growers and scientists and the Conference participants.
Wednesday February 24
"Morning Session" - Carlson/Heuser Lectures and Business Meeting
7:30-10:45 Pacific 8:30-11:45 Mountain 9:30-12:45 Central 10:30-1:45 Eastern 11:30-2:45 Atlantic
This session includes the annual Robert F. Carlson lecture by Dr. Stefano Musacchi (Washington State University) and the annual Wallace E. Heuser lecture by Dr. Todd Einhorn (Michigan State University), as well as four brief reports on new USDA-funded research projects of potential importance to tree fruit growers, as well as the annual IFTA Business meeting (including the annual roll call of states/provinces/countries).
"Afternoon Session" - Deliver the Best: Orchard Technologies Update
11:45-2:45 Pacific 12:45-3:45 Mountain 1:45-4:45 Central 2:45-5:45 Eastern 3:45-6:45 Atlantic
Jeff Cleveringa, IFTA Chair-Elect, will moderate this session that focuses on the increasingly significant changes in new and developing orchard technologies, such as harvest automation, crop load estimation, tree structure mapping and analysis, sensing technologies, etc. The session will conclude with a live question and answer period, followed by previews of-upcoming IFTA study tours and the 2022 annual Conference.
Registrants also will be able to exclusively access the recorded conference content over and over again on the IFTA website to revisit key points and details, or to access specific sessions later if they have conflicts during portions of the "live" conference.