By JOHN LOVETT | University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture
Research results on vegetable, fruit and turfgrass field trials will be presented June 28 during the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s 2023 Horticulture Field Day at the Southwest Research and Extension Center in Hope.
Experiments involving pest control in tomatoes and blackberries, variety trials for watermelons, cantaloupes and honeydews, and reviving idle peach trees make up the vegetable and fruit categories.
Educational sessions on grafting ornamental plants and preparing fresh fruit recipes will also be a part of the field day, which begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m. The station is located at 362 Arkansas Highway 174 North.
“I’m excited we have so much going on here,” said Daniel Rivera, Southwest Research and Extension Center director. “We have a lot of good folks on site who are banding together and taking on extra responsibilities to make sure that we can achieve all of our goals.”
Registration for the event is available online until 5 p.m. June 26 at https://uada.formstack.com/forms/horticulture_field_day_2023. Registration on the day of the event will begin at 8:15 a.m. in the station’s auditorium. The $20 registration fee includes lunch at noon, payable by cash, check, or credit card. Presentations begin at 9 a.m.
Speakers and topics
- Matt Bertucci, assistant professor of horticulture, will discuss ongoing variety trials for watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew melons. Bertucci tested 15 seedless watermelon varieties, 12 cantaloupe varieties, and three honeydew melon varieties. This research is supported by the Arkansas Specialty Crop Block Grant Program through the Arkansas Department of Agriculture and is also being conducted at the Vegetable Research Station in Kibler. The research will be repeated in 2024.
- Anthony Bowden, assistant professor of horticulture and ornamental extension specialist, will give a grafting technique demonstration of Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) and Eastern Redbuds (Cercis canadensis).
- Aaron Cato, a researcher and extension specialist who works with integrated pest management in horticulture, will showcase a pesticide spray efficiency research trial on blackberries; a cover crop vegetable trial assessing the need for soil-applied insecticides; and a tomato insecticide efficacy trial focusing on tomato fruitworm.
- Amanda McWhirt, fruit and vegetable extension specialist, will highlight best practices for blackberry and tomato production.
- Hannah Wright-Smith, weed specialist for turfgrass, specialty crops and forestry, will give a presentation on peach orchard floor reclamation and management, seeding centipedegrass and turf weed control.
Rivera said Wright-Smith’s presentation on peach orchard floor reclamation would be good for any person who is looking to get peach trees back into a productive state. Her research at the station was on a plot of peach trees that had sat idle for many years, Rivera said.
Nathan McKinney, associate vice president for agriculture and assistant director of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, encouraged agricultural producers from the region to attend.
“While the focus of the research at Hope is on southwest Arkansas, the application reaches the entire state,” McKinney said. “Producers from anywhere in the Ark-La-Tex are welcome to come and learn.”
The schedule is as follows:
Registration and welcome: Auditorium
- 8:15-8:50 a.m. — Registration
- 8:50-9 a.m. — Welcome and introductions
Outside program: Horticulture Research Area
- 9-10 a.m. — Vegetables and blackberries with Cato and McWhirt
- 10-10:30 a.m. — Peaches with Wright-Smith
- 10:30-11:30 — Turfgrass plots and high-tunnel projects with Cato and Wright-Smith
- 11:30-noon — Watermelon and cantaloupe variety trials with Bertucci
Inside program: Auditorium
- 10-11:30 a.m. — Recipe demonstrations and tastings of fresh fruit by the Cooperative Extension Service Family and Consumer Sciences agents
Lunch will be served from 12-12:45 p.m., followed by the ornamental grafting demonstration with Bowden from 12:45-1:45 p.m.
To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uada.edu. Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit https://uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk. To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu.
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