October 16, 2008

By Victoria County Master Gardener Sara Meyer

Edited by Victoria County Master Gardener Charla Borchers Leon
For many ranchers and farmers in the region, next week’s events at the Victoria Community Center will be Nirvana!  And so it is for the Victoria County Master Gardener Association as we prepare for educational opportunities at the show. 

The South Texas Farm and Ranch Show (STFRS) lasts two days - dawn to dusk - with educational seminars for CEUs, outstanding speakers, 125 exhibit booths, the latest Big Boy toys—tractors, combines, shredders, and youth educational activities.  For the past year, the STFRS Committee has diligently planned the best informative program available… as well as a little fun!  Whether a full time rancher, farmer, or backyard gardener, visitors will find educational opportunities galore. 

But attendees must register for classes and purchase luncheon tickets for both days by October 20th, 5 PM, from the Victoria County Extension Office, 442 Foster Field Dr., on the grounds of Victoria Regional Airport.

• Master Gardeners and Agriculture?

You may wonder why Master Gardeners are interested in agriculture and are writing this article about the STFRS.  Well, the world of gardening and horticulture is really agriculture - and it is big business!  According to a national impact study by the Horticulture Business Information Network, it shows the green industry supplies the nation with $147.8 billion in output, nearly 2 million jobs, $64.3 billion in labor income and $6.9 billion in business taxes.  And it all starts with a seed and a green thumb!  So, the Master Gardeners have assisted the STFRS in the past years providing insight into what horticultural programs are in most demand.

• Master Gardeners Participate in STFRS—wildflowers, plant solutions, and more!

     “Painting Texas with Wildflowers” is a collaborative statewide project to encourage not only county Master Gardener Associations in Texas but also the public to paint and plant Texas with wildflowers.
Spearheading this project, the Victoria County Master Gardener Association. (VCMGA) and its partners including Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA), Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), Texas Master Gardener Association (TMGA), and Texas AgriLife Extension Service will have their kick-off event at the STFRS beginning Wednesday at 10:30 AM in Annex 1 of the Community Center.

Wildflower seed balls, handmade by VCMGA members, will be given away during this 30 minute program only.  Afterwards, the seed balls will be available for sale at the VCMGA booth in the Community Center Dome.
Visitors may seek solutions to plant and lawn problems at the VCMGA booth in the Dome throughout the show. Texas A & M professor and Extension Horticulturist Dr. Doug Welsh’s Texas Garden Almanac, a practical and informative guide for gardeners and ‘yardeners’, will be sold at the booth during the STFRS.  This publication was so popular at the recent fall Master Gardener plant sale that orders had to be taken once supplies ran out.

VCMGA members work hard to beautify landscapes, but for the STFRS, members will beautify the tablescapes for the breakfasts and luncheons.  Look for garden-decorated tables provided by our membership, some of which will be for sale after Thursday’s luncheon.

• Cattlemen’s College

And the Lecture for the Day is BEEF—SOUTH TEXAS STYLE. Wednesday, October 22 starting at 6:30 AM with breakfast, topics include “Getting Back to Basics” focusing on managing costs and returns in range beef cattle. On Thursday (same time), Cattlemen’s College hosts four professionals in the beef industry to discuss producing South Texas beef for the international market.

• Wednesday Programs:  It’s Not the End of the Road…Alternatives Available

Starting at 6:30 AM with breakfast, specialists will discuss alternatives for fertilizers, new fertility concepts in row crops, and other strategies for pasture management. At 3 PM, award winning nature photographer Ruth Hoyt, will present an alternative income stream for interested landowners, ranchers and farmers, a land photo opportunity. (See last week’s Gardeners’ Dirt column for more information about Ms. Hoyt and her work.)  Other topics planned by the Master Gardeners include: “Citrus for the Home Garden” and “Fire Ant Management Updates.” All seminars provide CEUs for attendees.

• Luncheon Speakers: State Senator Hegar and Dr. Parsons—Stars and Stripes!

AgriLife Wednesday’s luncheon speaker will be Texas Senator Glenn Hegar, S.D. 18, from Katy who will discuss the “Key Issues Facing Agriculture” at the state and local level.  Tickets, $7/person, must be purchased by October 20th at the Victoria County Extension Office.

Thursday’s luncheon features a speaker that we recommended, Dr. Jerry Parsons, Texas Extension Horticulture Specialist, educating and entertaining the audience with information about “Superstar Plants for Farm and Ranch”.  Texas A&M specialists field tested many plants over the last 15 years with over 40 plants granted the Texas Superstar distinction by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service CEMAP program. Superstars earn their title because of their attributes, pest resistance, and low maintenance that protects our environment.
Check out http://plantanswers.com/superstar_listing.htm for a historical listing of designated plants. According to writer and friend Greg Grant, “Dr. Parsons operates under the belief that if you want to teach, you’d better entertain.”  And he certainly does both well!  Tickets are $10/person including a 12 oz. choice rib-eye steak (Texas beef—what a deal!)  and must also be purchased by October  20th at the Extension office.

• Thursday’s Programs: Pesticides, Beneficials and Lawn Diseases

     Starting with breakfast at 6:30 AM on Thursday, programs will be presented on pesticides and regulatory issues, new herbicides and weed resistant issues, as well as two we recommended on arthropods as control agents for insect pests, and managing diseases in the lawn.  All seminars provide CEUs.
Other STF&RS Activities:

Other activities include a golf tournament preceding the STFRS, an Ag Waste Pesticide

Collection and Pesticide License Training both on Thursday, and a Bio-Diesel demonstration on both days.

For luncheon ticket information (reservations by Monday, October 20, 5 PM) or to register for the classes to assist with seating, contact Victoria County Extension Office, 361-575-4581. 

Seminar times and locations may be found at