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Home  > Question of the Week

Question of the Week

Permalink I’m converting some pasture to melon and squash production. How much room should I allow for each plant in strip planting?


Answer: The ATTRA publication Organic Pumpkin and Winter Squash Production will give you some tips about converting pasture to pumpkins (or other vining crops.) The publication and its enclosures also discuss no-till practices that you could use.

A Mississippi State University Extension bulletin says watermelon plants should have about 25 square feet per plant. If you are planting on 8 foot rows, the plants should be about 3 feet apart. If you are planting on 6 foot rows, the plants should be about 4 feet apart. Cantaloupes need about 20 square feet per plant, and cucumbers should have about 6 square feet per plant. A Pennsylvania State University Extension bulletin says to plant pumpkin seeds in single rows 6 to 8 feet apart and 30 to 40 inches apart within the row. And a 1999 study by Dr. Ron Morse at Virginia Polytechnic Institute says that equidistant spacing of 48 inches by 48 inches outyields spacing of 2 feet by 8 feet. See "When it comes to pumpkin spacing, the squeeze play works" at These, however, will give you a solid field of pumpkin vines, not the strips that you intend to plant. You may have to experiment to get the strips sized to fit your equipment and the crop. Vines from one pumpkin plant can probably extend 15 to 20 feet in one direction, but if you want to keep them out of the driving strip, you can push them back into the planting strip with a hoe handle or other implement.



Permalink Do Louisiana irises make good cut flowers and can I raise them in Missouri?


Answer: Louisiana irises make excellent cut flowers and plants for water gardens. Although they originated from several species native to the coastal area of southern Louisiana and the Mississippi River Delta, Louisiana irises can be grown in Missouri. In fact, at least one nursery in northwest Missouri, Comanche Acres Iris Garden, sells the plants. The postal and e-mail addresses are below.

The Society for Louisiana Irises is the best source of information on cultivation. The SLI holds an annual convention, publishes a quarterly newsletter, and hosts an Internet discussion group. It offers the book The Louisiana Iris at a discounted price. Nurseries selling plants are listed in the newsletter and on the Web site.


Anon. No date. Introduction: Cultural Information. 2 p.

Caillet, Marie. 2000. The Culture of Louisiana Irises. 5 p.

Comanche Acres Iris Gardens
12421 SE State Rt. 116

Gower, MO 64454

The Society for Louisiana Irises
118 E. Walnut

Alma, AR 72921



Permalink Is a poplar plantation feasible in my part of the country?


Answer: That largely depends on the market. Is there someone who will buy the poplars within a reasonable trucking distance of your location? In the end, you may have to ask local pallet producers.

However, Missouri has several excellent resources that can help you in your overall evaluation of a hybrid poplar plantation. A Missouri Extension publication on the Web that should be helpful is Forestry Assistance for Landowners. The entire publication can be found at

In addition, the Missouri Center for Agroforestry has included the subject as one of its eleven research clusters. You may wish to contact them for consultation. Following is the description from their Web site,

Fast growing hardwoods biomass research cluster. Focus is to quantify growth of Populus clones, and other species, for biomass production, flood tolerance and levee protection.
1. Biomass opportunities in the floodplain. Collect above-ground biomass weights (mt/ha) from 92 cottonwood clones. The information will be input into a database for future analyses. Data on heat content (GJ/mt) will also be determined.
2.The development of fast growing energy plantations for bottomland sites in Missouri using elite Populus deltoides clones.
3.Physiological and morphological determinants of biomass productivity of poplar clones leading to an assessment of the carbon budget for cottonwood clonal stands.

Minnesota has also done considerable research. In Minnesota, the native stands of aspen were exhausted, and the state encouraged plantings of hybrid poplar to replace them. In this case, the processing infrastructure was already in place. One University of Minnesota publication, Discovering Profit in Unlikely Places: Agroforestry Opportunities for Added Income, devotes a chapter to "Woody Crop Plantations." You may view the entire publication at

Three other Web locations that might be of interest:

• Short Rotation Woody Crops Operations Working Group

• Hybrid Poplar Research Program

• National Agroforestry Center’s publication Opportunities for Growing Short-Rotation Woody Crops in Agroforestry Practices

The Poplar-Willow Technology Network is linked to the National Agroforestry Center's site. It is described as "a national network of experts to provide technical support for individuals, private companies, city, county, state and federal agencies interested in using fast growing tree species for wastewater treatment and other similar types of tree-related environmental projects." Two sources of tree materials in Missouri were listed on this site.

Cutting suppliers/nurseries:
• Ripley County Farms, Doniphan, Missouri, 573-996-3449
• River Valley Tree Service, East Prairie, MO, 573-649-3355, 573-380-1145

Print Resources

Alig, Ralph et al. 2000. Economic potential of short-rotation woody crops on agricultural land for pulp fiber production in the United States. Forest Products Journal. May. p. 67–74.

Anon. 1990. Short Rotation Intensive Culture. Energy Information Center, Minnesota Dept. of Public Service, St. Paul, MN. 8 p.

Godsey, Larry D. 2001. Tax Considerations for the Establishment of Agroforestry Practices. 3-2001. University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry, Columbia, MO. 12 p.

Godsey, Larry D. 2002. Funding Incentives for Agroforestry in Missouri. 5-2002. University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry, Columbia, MO. 24 p.

Kuhn, Gary A. and W.J. Rietveld. 1998. Opportunities for Growing Short-Rotation Woody Crops in Agroforestry Practices. AF Note #10 Agroforestry Notes. USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station and USDANatural Resources Conservation Service. 4 p.

Rhoads, Julie L., and John Pl Slusher. 1999. Forestry Assistance for Landowners. G5999. University of Missouri Extension Publication, Columbia MO. [excerpt]. 5 p.

Streed, Erik. 2002. Hybrid Poplar Profits. University of Minnesota. 6 p.



Permalink Where can I find current market prices for vegetables and cut flowers in Hawaii? And how do I contact a Cooperative Extension crop specialist there?



For wholesale vegetable prices, please check the USDA Web site
For wholesale flower prices, go to

For help in finding Extension specialists in Hawaii, contact Sabina Scott,, or Hector Valenzuela,



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