The East Texas Bedding Plant Pack and Garden Performance Trials began several years ago at the Texas A&M University Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Overton (Overton Center) with the goal of providing information on greenhouse and field performance of bedding plant varieties to the local bedding plant industry and consumers of these products. The program began with local trials that have now expanded in scope with the Smith County Master Gardeners Association playing an integral role in performing the trials. Entries are received from most of the major ornamental seed companies doing business in the United States giving the regional industry access to the only comprehensive greenhouse performance trials in this part of the country. Performance evaluation data is important to this industry since it has a wholesale value of over $500 million in the northeast Texas region, of which over $100 million is bedding plant production. The field performance trials are now replicated at the Overton Center, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden (Dallas Arboretum) and the Texas A&M University Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Dallas (Dallas Center), giving over 5 million consumers in the northeast Texas region the opportunity to see how promising new plants from all over the world perform in the local climate. Plants that grow well in this climate have the potential to reduce inputs needed for production and use in the home or commercial landscape. Many of the top performing varieties from the bedding plant trials are also chosen to be part of the Coordinated Education and Marketing Assistance Program (CEMAP), a statewide testing program headquartered at the Dallas Center in which entries vie for designation as Texas Superstar plants. The comprehensive benefit of the East Texas Bedding Plant Pack and Garden Performance Trials is the link between the rural bedding plant producers and the urban consumers which serves as a basis for improving the quality of life for the citizens of Texas.
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