July 22, 2024

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Clemson Extension Watermelon Field Day features research, technology and trade show

The 2024 Clemson University Watermelon Field Day is slated for July 11 at the Edisto REC in Blackville, South Carolina.The 2024 Clemson University Watermelon Field Day is slated for July 11 at the Edisto REC in Blackville, South Carolina.


The 2024 Clemson University Watermelon Field Day is slated for July 11 at the Edisto REC in Blackville, South Carolina.

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BLACKVILLE, S.C. – The 2024 Clemson University Watermelon Field Day features innovative technology, pest control tips, research updates, and a trade show to give watermelon growers an edge on growing this summer favorite.

This year’s field day is July 11 at the Edisto Research and Education Center (EREC), 64 Research Road, Blackville, S.C. 29817. Registration and a trade show hosted by the Clemson University Center for Agricultural Technology (CU-CAT) begin at 8 a.m. The indoor program begins at 8:30 a.m.

Indoor program

Tom Bilbo, Clemson Cooperative Extension Service entomologist, kicks off the indoor program with tips for scouting, identifying and managing Rindworms.

“Rindworms are insects that damage cucurbits when they feed directly on the rinds,” Bilbo said. “Because this group includes several insect species, the risks for invasion and damage, as well as control options, can vary by region.”

Cucurbits include cucumbers, various melons, squashes and gourds.

Bhupinder Jatana, a researcher at the EREC and assistant professor of horticulture, follows with a presentation about a recently funded USDA-NIFA project for efficient and sustainable use of carbon-based organic materials for nutrient and pest management in organic production systems.

In addition, Jatana will discuss soil health and soil-borne pest management benefits of cover crops in rotation with watermelon in conventional production systems. He and his team will share information about adopting new technologies used in grower fields.

Tim Keown and Stacie Smith will give a report from the South Carolina Governor’s School for Agriculture at John de la Howe. The South Carolina Governor’s School for Agriculture is a state-funded, public, residential high school that is the first of its kind in the nation. Students receive hands-on training in agriculture, agribusiness, forestry, land management, food science and more to help meet the needs of modern farms.

Watermelon research field tour

Following the indoor program, participants go to the research fields to learn about drone application of herbicides from Tyler Campbell, a Clemson research technician, and Joe Mari Maja, senior researcher and director for the Center of Applied Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Agriculture at South Carolina State University.

The field tour also includes a discussion by Jatana about his watermelon research involving grafted plants and cover crops. Gilbert Miller, Clemson Extension vegetable specialist and field day coordinator, will give an update on 97 melon varieties planted in the field trial he is conducting.

Greg Yarrow, acting dean of the Clemson College of Agriculture, will give an update from the college during lunch at the EREC office complex.

South Carolina pesticide license credits will be offered.

For field day information, contact Gilbert Miller at (803) 284-3343, ext 225.

CU-CAT trade show

The trade show continues after lunch, with door prizes to be given away at the conclusion.

“This will be a great opportunity for people to meet with representatives, dealers and others who work in the agriculture industry,” said Kendall Kirk, CU-CAT director.

Registered trade show participants include AgSquared, Clemson Agricultural Service Laboratory; the Toro Company; the United States Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service; W.P. Law; and WiseConn.

July 1 is the deadline for businesses to register for the trade show. For information, email Kendall Kirk at [email protected] or Mallory Douglass at [email protected].

Watermelon is produced in all 46 South Carolina counties, with the bulk of the crop coming from the Central Savannah River Area. The Clemson Cooperative Extension Service holds a free annual Watermelon Field Day to share research-based information with the public.

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