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'Tomato Battles' promote disease-resistant plants
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Residents of eight northeast Mississippi counties can test their gardening skills while learning about new, disease-resistant tomato varieties this spring.
The Mississippi State University Extension Service is holding “Tomato Battles” in Chickasaw, Itawamba, Lowndes, Marshall, Oktibbeha, Prentiss, Union and Webster counties. Scott Cagle, Chickasaw County coordinator for the MSU Extension Service, said the competitions are designed to encourage experimentation with new tomato varieties.
“A lot of gardeners grow the traditional tomatoes their parents and grandparents grew for years,” Cagle said. “The objective of this program is to educate Mississippi gardeners about varieties that are more resistant to a lot of diseases growers battle every year. We want to prove those new varieties they’ve never heard of can produce good-tasting tomatoes.”
Jeff Wilson, Extension regional horticulture specialist with the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Verona, will host a free seminar in Columbus at 6 p.m. April 21 at the Lowndes County Farm Bureau office on Main Street. He will provide gardeners with information on growing and managing improved-variety plants. Cagle will host another workshop at the Extension office in Chickasaw County on Lee Horn Drive in Houston at 10 a.m. April 17.
Contests in each of the counties require a $5 entry fee, which gets entrants two improved- variety tomato plants to take home and plant. During a specified weigh-in period in July, participants will take their biggest tomatoes to their local Extension offices. Those who grow the largest tomato in each county will be eligible for prizes ranging from steak dinner certificates to garden equipment.
Interested gardeners can contact their local Extension office for more information on how to enter, or call Scott Cagle at 662-456-4269.