|
Nevada County Picayune-Times - Prescott, AR
  • Lions learn farming trends

  • The Hope Lions Club learned about all things agricultural Monday from Dr. Terry Kirkpatrick, University of Arkansas Southwest Arkansas Research and Extension professor.
    • email print
      Comment
  • The Hope Lions Club learned about all things agricultural Monday from Dr. Terry Kirkpatrick, University of Arkansas Southwest Arkansas Research and Extension professor.
    Dr. Kirkpatrick is the nematodologist at the UA Southwest Arkansas Research Center in Hope. He applied a wide range of agricultural themes locally.
    Cold frames and high tunnels are two examples of greenhouses,” he said. “The high tunnels extend growing seasons by two to three months. In fact, strawberries are being picked right now.”
    Such techniques are important to local growers attempting to establish local markets.
    The Hope Farmer's Market here in Hope is focused on farm-fresh, locally grown produce,” Kirkpatrick said.
    I've been at the Experiment Station for 30 years and I've seen things change.
    Trees, cows, and chickens were once the main focus of farms for many years. Now, people are expanding their horizons and are diversifying,” he noted. “The trend right now is heirloom vegetables.”
    Watermelon production, an important part of agriculture locally, is also trending to innovations, he said.
    Watermelons are getting smaller because of space in the refrigerator,” Kirkpatrick explained. “Seedless watermelons are becoming more and more popular, also. By having the Watermelon Festival, we are carrying on the tradition of big, heirloom watermelons.”
    The next topic on Kirkpatrick's agenda was honey bees.
    Honey bees are not native to the United States, but they have adapted very well,” he said. “Vegetables such as cucumbers, squash, and watermelons all have to be pollinated by the bees, that is why the beekeepers are so careful when they have hives.
    About 10 years ago, mites got on bees everywhere and virtually wiped them out,” he said. “There is also a condition called 'Sudden Colony Collapse,' which is where the whole colony dies.
    The theory once was that the cause of the collapse was the use of pesticides, but that turned out to be not true,” Kirkpatrick added. “It was found out that nematodes, which live in the soil, were transmitting a virus to the bees and killing them off. This is one of the few instances that viruses can pass from plant to animal, and from animal to plant.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Kirkpatrick told the club of the “The Learning Farm,” which is located near Nashville.
    This farm is providing hands-on experience to farmers and growers in this area,” he said. “We recently pruned muscadine plants, and those who were participating that day really enjoyed themselves. We like to try to teach everyone who is interested in agriculture some of the wisdom that has been passed down to me through the years. That's what I enjoy doing.”

        calendar