Missoula County on-farm research provides learning opportunities
The MSU Extension Horticulture program has partnered with regional farmers as well as the Western Agriculture Research Station to carry out a variety of trials to help farmers and gardeners alike.
Through the support of the Specialty Crop Block Grant, we have been investigating annual strawberry production for the last two years. Strawberries are a high value specialty crop with varieties hardy enough to grow in Montana, but the high labor demands and pest management limit statewide production. Annual high tunnel production may reduce these issues and add diversity and profits to high tunnels/hoop houses. This could also be a great option for home gardeners. Through the farm partnerships in this project, we have had opportunities to extend learning moments into teaching moments.
ï‚· From planting to harvest and data collection, 25 students at the PEAS farm were
directly involved and learned about the challenges that many small producers in Montana
face and how this research could benefit producers.
ï‚· The strawberry research was showcased to over 200 people at four field days, workshops, and tours. Post-workshop survey results indicated that all survey participants who are not currently growing strawberries would after learning about annual production, and that most already growing strawberries would consider annual production.
Additional on-farm research and trials focused on alternative cover crop production strategies to aid farmers and gardeners with limited space, as well as demonstrations of season extension tools to help regional farmers and gardeners make informative decisions about crop protection tools to utilize during spring and fall periods of frost. These projects were initiated in response to feedback from farmerâ€™s and gardeners. At the end of the trials, this information will be used in workshops, classes, and printed guides to directly help community farmerâ€™s and gardeners.
Read more about MSU Extension programs in Missoula County.