High tunnel vegetable, flower seed production highlight Aug. 9 special event

Writer: Kay Ledbetter, 806-677-5608, skledbetter@ag.tamu.edu
Contact: Dr. Charlie Rush, 806-354-5804, crush@ag.tamu.edu

AMARILLO – Vegetable Production and High Value Horticultural Crop Seed Production will be a special afternoon breakout session Aug. 9 to follow the Summer Crops/OAP Center Pivot Irrigation Field Day near Bushland.

Vegetables grown under high tunnels will be a focus of a special post-field day session Aug. 9 near Bushland. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter)

The field day will be hosted by Texas A&M AgriLife and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service at the Conservation and Production Research Laboratory. Morning activities begin at 8 a.m. with registration, and the breakout session will begin at 1:30 p.m.

“Everyone from Master Gardeners to small landowners and farmers around the area who are interested in vegetable and flower production will want to attend this hour-long session that will conclude with an optional visit to our AgriLife Research high tunnels,” said Dr Charlie Rush, AgriLife Research plant pathologist in Amarillo.

Rush said the morning field day agenda includes talks on vegetable research goals for High Plains producers, optimizing water use in vegetables and pest management in vegetable production systems.

Those interested can attend the whole field day, lunch and the special breakout session, or they are welcome to just come for the noon lunch and afternoon speakers, he said.

“I will give a little introduction about the overall effort we are initiating to introduce high-value production of vegetables for fresh market and seed, not only for vegetables but also the possible production of flower seed,” Rush said.

Special guest Richard Edsall, director of seed production for Ball Horticultural Co. in West Chicago, said he believes the Texas Panhandle region has great potential for seed production and will provide an overview of opportunities during the workshop with his presentation on “Vegetable and Flower Seed Production in High Tunnels…What Does It Take?”

Edsall has said Ball is moving some of their seed production back to the U.S., as they can produce seed cheaper here than in some oversees locations. Ball Horticultural Co. is an internationally known breeder, producer and wholesale distributor of ornamental plants and edibles.

The other guest speaker will be Dr. Russ Wallace, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service horticulturist at Lubbock, who has led a three-year multi-state National Institute of Food and Agriculture-Specialty Crop Research Initiative high tunnel project and a two-year National Strawberry Sustainability Initiative.

Wallace headed The Texas High Plains High Tunnel Program, a collaborative effort that led to the technology being accepted for cost share-funding in Texas through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The EQIP High Tunnel Seasonal Initiative Program has provided funds to over 80 qualifying small-acreage growers.

“My program in Lubbock has been conducting research on strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce and other high-value vegetable crops for almost 10 years,” Wallace said. “High tunnels have been shown to be valuable for crop protection and season extension in West Texas. Tunnels protect crops from freezing temperatures, high winds and hail events.”

He will discuss his experience with high tunnels to date in his presentation, “Vegetable and Small Fruit Production in High Tunnels: Benefits and Pitfalls.”

For more information on the program, contact Rush at crush@ag.tamu.edu.

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