Boosting Commercial Horticulture

Research Year: 
2010
Issue: 

A diverse mix of horticultural crops is grown in Cochise County and a portion of Graham County in southeastern Arizona. Crop acreages include apples-1,200; wine grapes-650; pecans-5,800; pistachios- 2,900; stone fruit-160; chiles-3,000; greenhouse crops-280; and mixed vegetables-630 (2009 Arizona Agricultural Statistics Bulletin, Sept. 2010). There are also more than 100 smaller producers who gross less than $10,000 per year. Many use direct farm marketing techniques to sell their products, according to the 2007 USDA Agricultural Census. Outreach programs educate producers about best production practices so they can make informed decisions and remain economically viable. Recommendations from the Cochise County Cooperative Extension (CE) Advisory Board, requests for information from clientele and suggestions from Arizona Cooperative Extension agents and specialists are implemented. Areas of focus include pest management education and recommendations from locally generated research.

Description of Action: 

Programs offered for local and regional growers during 2010 included presentations at two Arizona Pistachio Growers Association meetings with attendance of 62 and 68 respectively, including growers from New Mexico and Texas; a four-hour program for 77 growers at the 31st Southeastern Arizona Ag Day; and an afternoon program on wine-grape production attended by 43 people. Six growers attended a field demonstration on budding peach and pistachio trees. Three direct farm marketing meetings with afternoon tours held across the state in Willcox, Prescott and Tuba City were attended by 68 growers/marketers. Workshops addressing vegetable gardening issues for growers and marketers were presented at a community garden with 27 attendees, and at a local farmers market (after closing), with 35 attendees.

Impact: 

The Cochise County Cooperative Extension workshops and demonstrations held for local growers during 2010 met clientele’s needs with the following results and impacts:

  • Pistachio producers learned how to properly employ wind machines to avoid spring frosts and also updated their knowledge of current pesticide recommendations, the market outlook and the proposed USDA marketing order. The 32 attendees rated the overall value of the workshop an average of 4.6 (1=not valuable; 5= very valuable).

  • A total of 146 Arizona Department of Agriculture CEUs was awarded to 44 Pesticide Applicator License (PAL) holders at Southeastern Arizona Ag Day. PAL holders know how to apply pesticides correctly.

  • The 28 grower evaluations returned for the Ag Day Wine Grape Production Workshop averaged 4.25 (1=low and 5=high) on a weighted scale of usefulness to their operations.  

  • At the budding demonstration, the six growers learned the proper techniques and timing for T-budding peach and pistachio trees and supervised the budding of nearly 10,000 pistachio trees.

  • Producers surveyed at the direct farm marketing workshops responded that 86 percent will increase their organic production in the next five years; 83 percent said they increased their knowledge of organic production by attending the workshop; 76 percent said they would implement at least two ideas from the workshop; and 63 percent stated that after the workshop they would create a presence on one of the direct marketing websites presented.

  • Thirty-eight evaluations for the community garden and farmers market workshops indicated usefulness of information was 4.9 on a scale of 5. All but one respondent indicated they would use at least two new ideas from the presentations. Comments included: “VERY HELPFUL! Rob answered many of my questions!”; “Very informative!”; “Easy to understand!” and “Appreciate this class! Please bring more!”

Conact Name: 
Rob Call
Contact E-mail: