News release: How Extension Can Help You With Horticulture

Tim Baker, MU Extension Horticulture Specialist
102 N. Main, Suite 1, Gallatin, MO 64640
660-663-3232, bakert@missouri.edu

Release date:
July 25, 2013

Title: How Extension Can Help You With Horticulture

In my last column, I described the new county assignments for horticulture that University of Missouri Extension developed this year. While these assignments may give a good idea of what counties Extension Specialists will be concentrating their efforts in, they are not set in stone. Tom Fowler is the other Horticulture Specialist in our region. We both feel that when it comes to helping you with your horticultural endeavors… we’re here to answer your questions… no matter what county you are in.

Last time, I also mentioned the types of plants that horticulture includes.  Basically, we cover fruits, vegetables, trees, turf, and all sorts of ornamental plants. 

So that’s the subject matter… but what types of audiences do we work with?

First, there are our commercial growers. Northwest Missouri has a surprising number of commercial fruit and vegetable growers. We have a produce auction in Jamesport, which has a large number of growers and buyers participating. Most of the growers for this auction are located in Daviess and Grundy Counties. There are also high concentrations of produce growers in Harrison and Gentry counties.

One of the highest concentrations of fruit growing enterprises is in Lafayette County, including both orchards and vineyards. There is also an increasing amount of vegetables produced in Lafayette County. Vineyards are also found in DeKalb, Holt, Ray, Grundy, and several other counties.

Meetings that are oriented toward commercial growers are an important part of our educational efforts.  These meetings may be large or small. Tom and I are both on the organizing committee of the Great Plains Growers Conference, held each January in St. Joseph.

We also work with homeowners. A lot of our questions come from people with vegetable gardens, a few fruit trees, flowers, trees, ornamental plants of various kinds, and others.

Master Gardeners take up a good part of our time each spring.  We teach a class every year at multiple locations, to enroll and train new Master Gardeners.

Youth can be an important outreach as well. An especially good class for youth is Extension’s Garden ‘N Grow. This class is held where there is a good Master Gardener group that chooses to participate in this as part of their volunteer program.  Currently, Tom is working with a group in St. Joseph.

On an everyday basis, we may find ourselves identifying weeds or insects, or making a disease diagnosis of a horticultural crop. We also make presentations to Master Gardeners, garden clubs, churches, and civic groups.

Both Tom and I have a wide background in horticulture, and have served in multiple counties. Tom started in Iron County, and then moved to Platte County, and is now headquartered in Buchanan County. He has a good background in a wide variety of agricultural topics, gained through the years serving diverse audiences.

I started my Extension career in the Missouri Bootheel, dealing with all those commercial watermelon and peach growers. When the opportunity came to move to Northwest Missouri, I decided that the new opportunities would help round out my career. There are a lot more types of commercial horticultural crops grown up here, compared to the Bootheel. I find that very interesting.

So if you have any kind of horticultural question, please don't hesitate to give either of us a call.