UACES Facebook Watermelon field days scheduled for Alma, Hope
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Watermelon, cover crop demonstrations scheduled for Alma, Hope

By Mary Hightower
U of A System Division of Agriculture
April 5, 2019 

Fast facts

  • Two watermelon walking tours, May 14 at Kibler, near Alma; May 16 at Hope
  • See cover crop trials
  • Learn watermelon production methods 

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LITTLE ROCK – Watermelon growers interested in use of cover crops and seedless varieties will be able to see relevant University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture research in action at two field days in May. 

Watermelon Farmer's Market

A May 14 field day demonstration will be held at the Vegetable Research Station, 3810 Thornhill Street in Kibler, near Alma, from 1 p.m.- 4 p.m. A second demonstration, part of the Division of Agriculture’s Horticulture Field Day, will be held at the Southwest Research and Extension Center, located at 362 Arkansas Highway 174 in Hope on May 16.

While the May 16 Horticulture Field Day is a day-long event, the watermelon-specific highlights include a presentation on watermelon and turf studies from Matt Bertucci, research scientist for the University of Arkansas Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences, at 10:30 a.m., and a cover crops demonstration with Amanda McWhirt, extension fruit and vegetable horticulture specialist for the Division of Agriculture, at 1 p.m.

The cost to attend the May 14 workshop in Kibler is $10. The cost to attend the afternoon workshop on May 16 in Hope is also $10, or $20 to attend the entire day-long event. For more information about the May 16 horticultural field day, visit

To register in advance of the May 14 event at Alma, or for the May 16 afternoon event only, contact Amanda Gonia at 501-671-2237. To register for the full Horticulture Day event, call (870) 777-9702 or register online at:

“We have two cover crop trials going on this summer and one of them is in its second year,” McWhirt said.  

One trial is strip tilled, in which the row with the winter cover crops is tilled down the middle, a plastic bed is laid and is planted in watermelons. The cover crops are left on either side to act as a wind break. 

“The cover crop dies down and creates a weed barrier that the vines run out over,” she said. “We have a similar trial at Kibler, except we don’t till and plant the watermelon through the cover crop and use it as a weed barrier.” 

The researchers are using a variety of winter cover crops, including black oats, winter wheat and Austrian peas.

The watermelon workshops will also feature Jackie Lee, extension’s horticulture-integrated pest management specialist and Matt Bertucci, Division of Agriculture research scientist. 

Lee will be discussing the cover crops’ effects on pollinators, as well as disease and insect management programs for watermelon production and Bertucci will be talking about managing weeds. 

There will also be plots where researchers will see how newer seedless varieties perform under Arkansas conditions and how they compare with traditional seeded varieties such as Jubilee and Charleston Gray. 

The trials are sponsored by a specialty block grant from the Arkansas Department of Agriculture. 

For more information about horticulture, contact your county extension office or visit


About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.  

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.   

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact Amanda Gonia at 501-671-2237 as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay. 

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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126