The fields in the Holland Marsh aren’t quite ready for planting just yet.

The ground is still frozen and wet in places, but local food growers are close to getting back to work.

A sure sign of the season is the bringing together of farmers and suppliers at the 68th Annual Muck Vegetable Growers Conference & Trade Show in Bradford.

Several experts discuss everything from crop protection to managing leaf curl in celery at the conference on Wednesday.

Mary Ruth McDonald is with Guelph University and runs the Muck Crops Research Station in the Holland Marsh. She said, “Vegetable production is big business. It’s an important industry for the growers but affects a lot of people in the area. The growers want to be up to speed with all the latest research and all the latest technologies.”

Farmers will put a robotic weeder to the test this summer in the marsh. McDonald says it will save hiring several people to pull weeds.

The conference will continue on Thursday.