Regional Vegetable Growers Gain Expertise to Remain Competitive

Henry G. Taber, Faculty, Horticulture    


Vegetable production in the four state regions of Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska has become more retail oriented as opposed to wholesale production. The major retail markets of on-farm marketing and farmers markets have seen a large surge in popularity with many new growers. At the same time, extension resources devoted to serve vegetable and fruit producers in the region has declined.  The extension vegetable specialists of the states could pool their resources to reach a larger audience through a regional winter conference and workshop.  Also, growers would be more willing to share their expertise if not in direct competition with each other.


To hold a winter conference in the 4-state region where new and experienced vegetable growers could exchange ideas and gain new information.


Over 350 growers from the states of Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska participated in a high tunnel workshop and a two-day vegetable conference held on a Friday and Saturday in early January 2005. Four educational sessions were conducted concurrently with the main topics repeated between the two days to allow growers to attend most sessions if only participating one day. Main emphasis was placed on marketing, asparagus weed control, organic tomato and pepper production, specialized equipment as seeders, transplanters, cultivators and grower panels.


Returned exit surveys indicated 68% of growers rely on conferences and workshops for production techniques and 58% for marketing information.  Eighty-five percent of the respondents “agreed” or “strongly agreed” they learned new ideas that would improve their income from their vegetable enterprise.  



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