VegNET IEO SP Singh talking at the Food Safety workshop in Canning Vale.

Winter is coming! No, that is not a reference to a popular, medieval, fantasy drama series. However, as the temperature drops, like the Lords of the North we enter a new season of caution and surveillance.

As the warmth of summer abandons us, the icy mornings and drizzly days bring a different set of troubles to our farm gates. Frost, hail and water logging along with ‘super fun’ bacterial and fungal diseases, become a potential threat. Ensure a solid spray regime is in place and that you are rotating through different active  ingredients, to minimize chemical resistance. Also, be careful with your own personal safety. While muddy boots, wet tractor steps and slippery concrete are a ‘fact of farm life’, they can also be the cause of nasty injuries… a concussion or broken arm isn’t going to help your bottom line!

While the weather cools, things in the vegetablesWA office have started to heat up. A Food Safety workshop, MC’d by our own Joel Dinsdale, with Dr SP Singh as the star attraction was both engaging and informative. The research into ensuring our produce is as ‘clean and green’ as our reputation suggests is rather impressive. Organised by vegetablesWA, the event was open to all industry stakeholders in Horticulture. We had in attendance: growers, industry body representatives, Government department representatives, industry service providers and market agents, which shows how important the issue of food safety is to the whole supply chain.

There has been a slight focus on the southern regions of late with Karnup, Myalup, Donnybrook and Manjimup getting multiple visits from myself and various members of the VegWA Team. Two of the stand outs were the four man (okay — three men and one woman) dash down to Manjimup covering all areas of extension. Export, enchmarking and QA, while far less glamourous than farm work, have been kicking goals on many fronts.

The other ‘bang for your buck’ extension run were the biosecurity/area wide management workshops held in Wanneroo, Myalup and Manjimup

We were happy to host AUSVEG Biosecurity Coordinator Callum Fletcher, who is the man in the know when it comes to state and national biosecurity incursions and plans. 

Adding to the info blitz were Craig Webster, Dominie Wright and Monica Kehoe from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) Area Wide Management (AWM) Project.  With bugs in bottles as one of many pest inspired props, the DPIRD crew nailed ‘interactive extension’! With the threat of another incursion always in the back of a growers mind and the challenges of plant diseases we all face, the Area Wide anagement Project offers a small glimmer of light with free produce testing. A few growers have taken advantage of this testing as a result of the information gained in the workshops. If you would like further information, please contact either myself or Truyen Vo.

Another win for the West is the upcoming UNE — Weeds in Veg, Cover Crop Field Day. With information collected from many of our growing regions and the trial site in Myalup, UNE and their associated project/ industry stakeholders are offering a very interesting snapshot into the WA ‘weed scene’. With the release of fact sheets covering some of the country’s most prolific horticultural plant-based pests, continued research into seeding and germination suppression of weeds and now a field day; WA is getting some valuable additions to its weed management information arsenal.

If you are interested in attending the field day on 20th June at Ivankovich Farms in Myalup, check out the vegetablesWA Facebook page, website or shoot me an email.

HortConnectWA… have you heard about it? Do you want to get involved and learn more? Then come along and ask a question, while having a beer at one of our next events!

With Ambassadors from across Horticulture, we are hoping to serve up inter-industry collaborations and networking with a side of socialising and support. While farewelling our founding Industry Ambassador, Claire McClelland leaves us with heavy hearts; the two-man crew of myself and Joel Dinsdale are keen to ‘connect with Hort’! For further information and to find out who your Industry Ambassador is see page 36.

I don’t miss waiting for my gumboots to warm up in front of the heater or the ‘Rudolph Red’ nose of pre-dawn on the farm, however packing for a grower visit to the very southern and very cold Albany is proving to be a challenge. Farm Sam could chuck on her thickest, daggiest trackies, layer up under her favourite plush flanno and pull on her woolliest ‘old faithful’ beanie to cover her rain hating, crazy, ethnic hair; Extension Sam isn’t as lucky or feral! If you could try not to laugh too hard at my chattering teeth, excessive use of scarves, the way I lovingly cradle a cup of hot coffee or my ‘softness’ in general… that’d be great!

Contact Sam on 0427 373 037 or email