524 Vegetable Production in Southeast Virginia

in HortScience
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  • 1 New Mexico State Univ., P.O. Box 30003, MSC 3AE, Las Cruces, NM 88003

A research and extension program for increasing vegetable production in southeastern Virginia was launched by Virginia Cooperative Extension in 1997. The launch was triggered by the construction of a shipping point market in Southampton County. First, a market window study identified target crops and the harvest period when they could be most profitably marketed. Target crops were watermelon, sweet corn, snap beans, muskmelon, bell pepper, and pumpkin. Second, a technology transfer program was formulated that emphasized demonstrations, field days, classes, and workshops. On-farm demonstrations of intensive vegetable production techniques formed the foundations of the extension effort and focused on drip irrigation, plastic mulch on raised beds, water and nutrient monitoring, honey bee pollination, and integrated pest management (IPM). “Growing Vegetables for the Commercial Market” was the title of a short course offered in partnership with the local community college. Sixty-five graduates completed the course in 1999. Workshops were offered on farm labor, marketing, irrigation, and production techniques. On-farm research was conducted in support of the emerging vegetable industry. The focus was on sweet corn IPM, variety trials for watermelon and pumpkin, and soil and plant analysis. Information was made available to growers through a bimonthly newsletter, an annual bulletin entitled Commercial Production Recommendations, and VCE postings on the World Wide Web.

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