Next Twilight Series meeting at Dixon Springs

Now in their second growing season, high tunnels at the University of Illinois’ Dixon Springs Agricultural Center are brimming with all kinds of fruit and vegetables, as well as research, field trials and other studies designed to help small farmers with high tunnel production.

SIMPSON, Ill. — High tunnel production, vegetable grafting and the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s EQIP program top the agenda for the next Southern Illinois Summer Twilight Series meeting.

This free meeting is 6 p.m., on Monday, June 17, at the University of Illinois’ Dixon Springs Agricultural Center, 354 Illinois 145 N in Simpson.

Extension Local Food Systems and Small Farms educators Bronwyn Aly and Nathan Johanning have been partnering with area farms during the past five years to provide evening “twilight meetings” to highlight and demonstrate diverse farming enterprises across southern Illinois.

Founded in the 1930s, the agricultural center is the university’s southernmost agricultural research center. Approaching 60 years now, fruit and vegetable research and Extension outreach has been conducted onsite, providing Midwest growers with a wide range of information including variety selection, intensive production and management practices, pick-your-own marketing, strawberry plasticulture production and high tunnel production.

By the way, center’s high tunnel complex now is officially called the Local Foods Research and Demonstration Area.

Extension staff members currently are focusing on production and management systems within high tunnels on various vegetable and fruit crops.

Next Twilight Series meeting at Dixon Springs

One experiment underway in the high tunnels is intercropping cucumbers with lettuce.

For the June 17 meeting, Aly and Johanning will discuss the different types of high tunnel structures on-site, as well as the various production and management practices for multiple crops.

“There are so many types of high tunnels with a range of options. Producers thinking about a high tunnel can come and see for themselves what’s involved. We also can point out various features,” Aly said.

Wenjing Guan, an assistant professor of horticulture from Purdue University, will share details on her grant-funded project, “Improving Seedless Cucumber Production to Diversify High Tunnel Crops in the North Central Region.”

Also scheduled for the meeting is Lauren Smith, a NRCS soil conservationist, with an update on the NRCS’s cost-share program – the Environmental Quality Incentives Program — for high tunnels.

Although the meeting is free, preregistration is encouraged: http://web.extension.illinois.edu/ghhpsw, or by calling 618-695-6060 no later than Friday, June 14.

For more information, call 618-695-6060.

Karen Binder can be reached at 618-534-0614 or kbinder@agrinews-pubs.com. Follow her on Twitter at: @AgNews_Binder.

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