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Future of fruit is Hort theme — plus stink bugs

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Learn to look a stink bug in the eye at the upcoming Hort Convention in Wenatchee.

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We’re already excited about the upcoming Hort Convention, if only because we’ll get the lowdown on those pesky brown marmorated stink bugs. Not your usual convention topic.

Officially, the gathering is called the Washington State Horticultural Association’s 109th Annual Meeting, Postharvest Conference and Northwest Horticultural Exposition. (Unofficially, say some, it’s the Hort Show.) And it’s all in one location Dec. 2-4 at the Wenatchee Convention Center.

Attendees should prepare for three days of time travel. The theme — “Is Your Orchard Ready? Preparing Your Operation for the Next Generation” — will launch orchardists into the future of sprayers, canopies, robotic tray fillers, labor shortages, higher land prices, new varieties and the possibility of (mmmm) pear slices from Crunch Pak.

Terence Robinson, one of the world’s top professors of pomology (that’s the study of fruit, not cheerleader pom-poms), will truck over from Cornell University in New York to give the 34th Annual Batjer Address: “A Vision for Apple and Pear Orchards of the Future.”

And speaking of futuristic stuff, the stink bug lectures are in both English and Spanish. In fact, there’s a whole Spanish-language track of presentations (worker safety, fruit diseases, orchard systems, pesticide handling) throughout the three-day event.

In light of future challenges, “we all need to keep our focus on producing only high quality fruit,” says WSHA Board President Jeff Cleveringa. “As consumers in newly emerging markets try our produce for the first time, we want them to become repeat customers from the very beginning.”

You can register or scan a convention schedule (it’s extensive) at wahort.org.

Free comics are a boo-tiful thing

Wenatchee’s Galaxy Comics has so many comics to give away, it’s scary.

That’s because the giveaway is part of Halloween ComicFest 2013, a national celebration of the comic book universe and the pop-culture products — books, graphic novels, toys, costumes — they’ve spawned.

Dean Ball, owner of Galaxy Comics, said he’ll hand out free comics from a selection of at least 10 titles from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, at his store at 1720 Fifth St. Titles include Batman, Spider-Man, Thor, Archie, My Little Pony, Sonic the Hedgehog and Adventure Time.

Some publishers have printed special editions of their most popular comics to be given away that day,” Ball said. “It’s a perfect way to celebrate Halloween.”

For more info, call 663-4330, or visit zcomics.net.

Talking weeds

With all the talk about legalized marijuana, attendance at the 63rd Annual Washington State Weed Conference should really boom. Except it’s not THAT kind of weed conference.

Instead, it’ll be a very busy time for the hundreds of farmers, landscapers, property owners and civic, business and ag leaders who will attend the info-packed gathering Nov. 6-8 at the Wenatchee Convention Center. They’ll be there to learn about noxious weeds and how to control them.

All the hotshot regional ag experts will be on hand. WSU’s Tim Smith will discuss tree fruit and weeds, scientist Frank Young will talk about rye control in canola and ag specialist Allan Felsot will dig into herbicide-resistant biotech crops.

Overall, the schedule includes more than 40 speakers and presentations (crops, aquatic, ornamentals, vegetation management and more), with a bunch of those sessions in Spanish. The conference will also include an indoor and outdoor trade show, a weed quiz with cash prizes, photo contest and certification for crop advisor credits and pesticide application licensing.

Need info? Call the Washington State Weed Association at (509) 783-4676 or visit weedconference.org.

Local auto supply store donates to FFA

If you’ve been staying awake nights worrying over how Wenatchee FFA students are gonna pay for a trip to the state convention — and who hasn’t? — then you can rest easy. They’ll do it with the help of box tops.

Jerry’s Auto Supply and one of their big suppliers, Wix Filters, on Monday gave Wenatchee High School’s FFA a check for more than $2,100. The money will help fund a trip next May for up to 30 members of the group attending the state gathering in Pullman.

The kids received the check after collecting 8,645 box tops from packages of Wix Filters used by Jerry’s customers, including those at fruit packing operations, maintenance shops, auto and tractor repair garages — heck, you name it. Jerry’s sells about 90,000 Wix Filters (for oil, fuel, water, air and coolant systems) to these outfits every year.

Wix donated 25 cents per box top to the FFA cause. It’s part of the North Carolina-based company’s national push to help fund FFA activities across the country.

Jerry’s has sponsored the filter funding in past years, but in 2012 the students labeled 5-gallon buckets with FFA, Wix and Jerry’s logos. They placed the buckets in strategic spots in maintenance sheds and garages so it was easy for mechanics to toss in a box top — thus making a donation.

Ron Berschauer, president of the Jerry’s Auto Supply, said, “We’ve had moderate success with this program in the past, but this year the buckets made a big difference. The kids did a smart thing to place those buckets as a reminder of all the good work by FFA.”

It really helps some kids pay for a trip they might not be able to afford otherwise,” said Julia Spangler, 18, president of the WHS FFA chapter. “This (money) really is a huge help.”

This weekly column is compiled from “Everyday Business,” a blog by World reporter Mike Irwin. You can reach him at 665-1179 or irwin@wenatcheeworld.com.

Reach Mike Irwin at 509-665-1179 or . Read his blog Everyday Business or follow him on Twitter at @MikeIrwinWW.

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