Couldn’t make it to Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention this year? We’ve got you covered. Growing is on the ground, covering everything you need to know at the show.

Here are some of the top moments from Tuesday, Jan. 31.

Heather Manzo from Penn State University

Heather Manzo from Penn State University

The Farmers Market’s Silver Bullet

With CSAs still trending from the previous year (28 percent in 2015), growers who sell via markets will find it beneficial to research their customers base.

• What are your customers doing?
For instance, juices and smoothies are wildly popular for consumers and they are still actively seeking that type of product. The recommended way to know what consumers are doing is to: 1) identity the target group; 2) Learn more about them; and 3)build new products for that group.

• Market research
Who are your customers? Where are they? How do you access them? Growers can research their area’s demographics through their county/state census data that is easily available online or at a local library. Also, growers can take note of the market’s foot traffic. It will help uncover markets that may not have been reached.

– From the session, “Direct Marketing – Is There a Silver Bullet Model for Farmers Markets CSAs & Home Delivery” with speaker Heather Manzo, Penn State University.

Defending Against Disease

What can you do as a farmer to fight disease in a changing climate?

• Accurately diagnosis plant disease
• Continue to improve soil health
• Start scouting early and be aware of diseases in your region
• Select disease-resistant cultures
• Utilize disease forecasts

– From the session, “Managing Vegetable Diseases and Insect Pests in a Changing Climate” with speaker Dr. Beth Gugino and Dr. Shelby Fleischer, Penn State University.

Hydroponic Lighting

The challenges with LED systems for plant production:

• Many companies sell LED lamps; however, some make outrageous claims
• LEDs still produce heat, but it’s convective heat
• Little to no independent testing data available
• No long-term testing data available

Although LED lamps have a higher purchase price, they consume less electric energy. New management options and more research are needed. Growers are recommended to start experimenting on small areas and keep informed about research developments.

– From the session, “The Latest in Greenhouse LED Research” with speaker Dr. A.J. Both, Rutgers University.

Making the Transition: What’s Your Exit Plan?

The seven steps to transitioning your family farm business:

Step One: Identity Exit Objectives

  • Keep in mind: 30 percent of families make it to the second generation of family farm business; 12 percent make it to the third generation and only three percent make it to the fourth generation.
  • When do you want to leave the business?
  • How much cash do you need?

Step Two: Quantify business and financial resources

  • Baseline value
  • Measures resources
  • Allows you to monitor progress toward objectives

Step Three: Maximize and protect business value

Grow business value: Value drivers: increasing cash flow/customer base/growth strategies/build mgt. team; groom successor.

  • Reduce income tax
  • Protect assess
  • Motivate employees; keeps them focus
  • Create ability to sell the business

Step Four: Ownership transfer to third parties

  • Cash at closing
  • Eliminate financial risk
  • No family succession issues
  • Speed of exit

Step Five: Ownership transfer to insiders

  • Family/key employee/partner
  • Motivates/retains key employees
  • Reduce tax burden

Step Six: Business Continuity planning

  • Implementation
  • Holding your plan accountable

Step Seven: Personal Wealth & Estate Planning

  • Preserve wealth/minimize tax
  • Estate planning becomes business planning

-From the session, “Here is a Path for Planning, Implementing and Managing the Process” with speaker Philip Mason, Peerless Business Advisors.