Targeted Horticultural Education with the Greenhouse Tomato Short Course

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  • 1 Mississippi State Univ., Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center, Crystal Springs, MS 39059
  • 2 Mississippi State Univ., Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center, Raymond, MS 39154
  • 3 Mississippi State Univ., Entomology and Plant Pathology, Mississippi State, MS 39762
  • 4 Mississippi State Univ., Food & Fiber Center, Mississippi State, MS 39762
  • 5 North Carolina State Univ., Horticultural Science, Raleigh, NC 27695
  • 6 Ohio State Univ., OSU Extension, Agricultural Business Enhancement Center, Bowling Green, OH 43402-1351
  • 7 Univ. of Arizona, Dept. of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Tucson, AZ 85721-0038
  • 8 Auburn Univ., Horticulture Dept., Auburn, AL, 36849
  • 9 Mississippi State Univ., retired
  • 10 Mississippi State Univ., deceased

The Mississippi (MS) Greenhouse Tomato Short Course has been held every March since 1989. The purpose of this 2-day, intensive training is to educate growers so they will be able to successfully grow greenhouse tomatoes as a viable horticultural business. With a mixture of experienced, novice, and prospective growers, it is just as important to provide current growers with research based, practical information, as to expose potential growers to the realities of the business, helping them make an informed decision before investing time and money. Beginning as a small program for a handful growers in the conference room at the Truck Crops Experiment Station, it has gradually grown in number and diversity of participants and invited speakers, depth of subject matter, and geographic origin of growers and speakers. The 2003 program had 142 participants from over 20 states and 4 countries, making it the largest such program in the United States. This is in keeping with the recent trend. The typical lineup of topics includes the basics of producing a commercial crop of hydroponic greenhouse tomatoes, the budget for establishing and operating a greenhouse business, marketing and promotion, pest and disease identification and management, and the grower's point of view. Other topics, varying year to year, include heating, cooling, and ventilation of greenhouses, record keeping, new technologies, biological control, diagnostics, and alternative crops. For 2004, the subject of organic production will be introduced. With targeted extension programming such as this Short Course, the greenhouse tomato industry in MS has grown from 15 growers in 1989 to 135 growers today, producing $6.5 million in annual gross sales. Complete information can be found at www.msstate.edu/dept/cmrec/ghsc.htm.

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