For the first time in many years, the 2009 Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Overton’s Horticultural Field Day will include vegetable trials, not just flowers. This year’s field day is set for June 25.
"We have close to 500 varieties this year, and that includes over 80 varieties in the container trials," said Dr. Brent Pemberton, a Texas AgriLife Research agriliferesearch.tamu.edu  horticulturalist who oversees the field day’s East Texas bedding plant performance trials each year.
Pemberton began trials of bedding plants at the Overton center in 1994 to serve the commercial greenhouse and bedding plant industry. Before the trials’ inception, there were few — if any — tests under East Texas conditions of the many new varieties released by seed companies each year, he said. But in recent years, the industry has had a $500 million annual economic impact on the region, he said.
Plant pathologist Dr. Karl Steddom will discuss the vegetable trials, which include tests on controlling powdery mildew on pumpkins, and nematodes and southern blight on tomatoes.
This year’s trials will also place a continued emphasis on vinca, including two new series that are resistant to aerial Phytophthora, a serious landscape problem with this crop all across the South.
The field day will begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Overton’s North Farm site and conclude by 2:30 at the Overton Center’s headquarters, following a presentation by Pemberton and Jimmy Turner of the Dallas Arboretum on the 2009 California Pack Trials.
“We also coordinate trial results with the Dallas Arboretum," Pemberton said. "More than 5 million consumers in the northeast Texas region now have the opportunity to see how promising new plants from all over the world perform in our climate."
Registration is free and includes lunch. For a tentative event schedule, directions and an online map, visit overton.tamu.edu .