A Deeper Connection

Bradford to host Vegetable Grower's field day

The Vegetable Grower’s field day is coming to the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources’ Bradford Research Center, with a focus on bringing important information to both commercial vegetable farmers and home gardeners.

The event will run from 3-5 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 3, and is free and open to the public. There will be wagon tours, walking tours and a variety of presentations.

“Over the last few years, my work in vegetable production has focused on commercial farmers,” said Steven Kirk, research specialist. “Although research has been geared to larger-scale producers, much of this work is applicable to home gardeners and hobbyists. Whether you have a small backyard garden or 10 acres of tomatoes, the Vegetable Grower’s field day will have something of interest for everyone and will help individuals grow the best veggies on the block or in the county.”

Steven Kirk will present during one of the walking tours. He will discuss watermelons and cover crops. Photo by Logan Jackson.Steven Kirk will present during one of the walking tours. He will discuss watermelons and cover crops. Photo by Logan Jackson.

Kirk has been involved in the Tomato Festival since its inception in 2005. That has been a great opportunity for Kirk to connect with both commercial farmers and backyard gardeners. He wanted to deepen that connection and spearheaded the Vegetable Grower’s field day.

This year’s event will begin with a presentation at 3 p.m. in the John Poehlmann Educational Center by Kathy McFarland with the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company. She will discuss the trend in heirloom vegetables.

The wagon tours begin at 3:45 p.m. and will feature Kirk, who will talk about watermelons and cover crops, and Xi Xiong, associate professor, and Waana Kaluwahsa, graduate research assistant, who will discuss sweet potatoes.

A walking tour will follow from 4:30-5 p.m. David Trinklein, associate professor, Jessica Kansman, graduate research assistant, and Benjamin Puttler, assistant professor emeritus, will lead the tour, which will showcase the tomatoes and peppers at Bradford. The trio will also discuss vegetable culture, insects and diseases.

“Nestled between fields of corn and soybean research plots at the Bradford Research Center are a number of vegetable projects where researchers conduct valuable studies geared toward increasing production, controlling weeds and reducing disease that help our producers grow to their potential,” Kirk said. “Much of this work can benefit large producers and home gardeners alike. Among the vegetable fields that will be featured during this field day will be the more than 150 varieties of tomatoes and peppers that are grown for the annual Tomato Festival, held on the first Thursday of September. These varieties represent one of the most comprehensive collection of tomato and pepper plantings in the Midwest. This planting includes heirloom, commercial, cherry, husk and processing tomatoes and peppers form the sweetest to the hottest.”

For those interested in learning more about the MU Agricultural Research Centers and about vegetables, the South Farm Research Center will also host a tour from 5:15-6 p.m. The tour will highlight South Farm’s movable high tunnel, grafted tomatoes, raspberries and cut flowers. Tim Reinbott, director of field operations for the MU Agricultural Research Centers, will lead the tours.

The Bradford Research Center is located at 4968 Rangeline Road in Columbia. For more information about the vegetable grower’s field day, call (573) 884-7945 or email Kirk at kirks@missouri.edu. For more information about the Bradford Research Center, visit bradford.cafnr.org. The South Farm Research Center is located at 3600 East New Haven Road in Columbia.