Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the World Ag Expo in Tulare opens Tuesday for another three-day extravaganza featuring the latest in farming tools and technology.
Spread out over 2.6 million square feet of exhibit space of the sprawling International Agri-Center, it is the largest event of its kind in the world, organizers say.
This year, more than 1,450 exhibitors will showcase the newest, must-have farm equipment and technology. The show attracts more than 100,000 visitors and vendors from all over the world. Last year, people from 47 states and 79 countries attended.
“There is a reason we are called the World Ag Expo,” said Harry Peck, chairman of the 2017 Ag Expo. “This is the place where people in the ag industry come to showcase their latest innovations.”
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Peck, a longtime volunteer and exhibitor, said some of the exhibits will include advances in hydroponics, water-saving irrigation systems and mechanization. Also expected to grab attention from visitors are solar companies, makers of drones and drone technology, and, of course, the tractor dealers.
There is a reason we are called the World Ag Expo. This is the place where people in the ag industry come to showcase their latest innovations.
Harry Peck, chairman of the 2017 Ag Expo
Scattered across the grounds of the Agri-Center will be some of the world’s leading farm equipment companies, including John Deere, Case IH, New Holland and Kubota.
Farmers come to the Ag Expo looking for ways to save time and money, and to improve efficiency. Non-farmers stroll through the show gawking at the massive, $500,000-plus tractors and enjoying the food. Nonprofit groups, churches and schools operate the food booths that cook up some expo favorites, like juicy rib-eye steak sandwiches, peach cobbler and grilled baloney sandwiches.
There are several huge, covered pavilions that house hundreds of vendors selling products for virtually every aspect of farming, including harvesting, pruning, tilling, irrigating and applying chemicals. Also available during the expo’s three-day run will be a series of educational seminars focused on topics, including world trade, animal health and the changing role of women in agriculture.
Alicia Rios, director of Fresno’s Center for International Trade Development, said farmers who want to learn more about international trade may want to attend one of the center’s seminars Wednesday. Among topics to be discussed will be “The Changing Face of Global Trade.”
“There is a lot of unknown out there right now,” Rios said. “But businesses have to continue to do businesses and the world still wants our products.”
As in years past, the expo spotlights the Top 10 New Product award winners. Recognized for their innovation, this year’s winners include a method that make melon harvesting easier, irrigating simpler, and crop-cleaning more efficient.
One of the 2017 new-product winners is Sutton Agricultural Enterprises of Salinas. The company sells a piece of farm equipment that trims the tops of lettuce greens in the field after harvest. The Ortomec Cleaner 2 cuts the plants to a uniform height and sucks debris out of the field using a vacuumlike device.
The practice allows a farmer to regrow the crop without having to plow it under and start over with new plants.
“Depending on the crop, a grower can harvest two or three times from the same plant,” said Joe Sutton, operations manager for Sutton Agricultural. “Plus, it also improves food safety by getting rid of things you don’t want in the field.”
Sutton said he already has received plenty of interest from farmers and he expects to visit with more at the expo.
Peck, the Ag Expo chairman, said the event has come a long way from its humble beginning when it was known simply as the “farm show” and held at the Tulare County Fairgrounds. The first show attracted 157 exhibitors and 28,000 attendees. The current name, World Ag Expo, was adopted in 2001.
As part of celebrating its 50th anniversary, expo officials are staging an Opening Ceremonies celebration on Tuesday at 10 a.m. in the World Ag Expo arena with a live performance of the national anthem, presentation of colors and a ribbon cutting. On Wednesday, there will be an after-hours party and fireworks show in the arena. The party, sponsored by Bud Light, will feature a free concert by Parmalee. On Thursday at 10 a.m. there will be tractor parade on Median Street with tractors representing each year of the show.
“We are going to celebrate, that’s for sure,” Peck said.
If you go
World Ag Expo, 4500 S. Laspina, Tulare
▪ Feb. 14-16, Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
▪ Admission, $15 per day, children 6 and younger free.
▪ Contact: (800) 999-9186, http://www.worldagexpo.com/.