DIXON SPRINGS, Ill. — Nearly 50 participants attended the summer twilight series meeting at the Local Foods Research and Demonstration Area at the Dixon Springs Agricultural Center on June 17. The Dixon Springs Agricultural Center, established in the late 1930’s, is the southernmost agricultural research center for the University of Illinois. For almost 60 years, fruit and vegetable research and extension outreach has been conducted on-site, providing Midwest growers with a wide range of information on various topics.
Over the course of the evening, University of Illinois Extension Local Food Systems & Small Farms Educators Bronwyn Aly and Nathan Johanning answered questions and provided information on the various production and management practices for multiple crops. They also shared handouts from Purdue University on their research on white mold, a soil-borne fungus that can be a problem in many crop, especially tomatoes, grown in high tunnels. Participants were able to tour and ask questions about the three on-site high tunnels, one of which is strictly used for hydroponic production.
Dr. Wenjing Guan, Assistant Professor of Horticulture, from Purdue University discussed her NC-SARE funded research project, “Improving Seedless Cucumber Production to Diversify High Tunnel Crops in the North Central Region” – LNC17-390, including variety selection and grafting of cucumber transplants.
Lauren Smith, NRCS Soil Conservationist, also provided an update on the Natural Resource Conservation Services (NRCS) cost share program, Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), for high tunnels. High tunnels are increasing in popularity as they can prove to be beneficial to increase crop production by providing for a longer growing season. Scott Jarvis, a resident of Champaign, Ill., traveled all the way to Dixon Springs to attend the twilight meeting. While he enjoyed learning about the diverse vegetable production on-site at the Ag Center, Jarvis was most interested in information on the NCRS funding opportunities for high-tunnels.
Aly and Johanning have been partnering with area farms over the past five years to provide evening meetings to highlight and demonstrate diverse farming enterprises across southern Illinois. The next twilight meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 8, 2019 at 6 p.m. at Mileur Orchards in Murphysboro, Ill. The upcoming meeting will focus on peach, apple, aprium, pluot, and plum production, retail farm marketing, and utilization of a commercial kitchen. There is no cost to attend the meeting, but participants should register by calling (618) 695-6060 no later than July 5.
— University of Illinois Extension
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