Growing Vegetables for Profit is Focus of Conference in Liberal
Kansas was once ranked in top five for some fruit and vegetable production
|LIBERAL, Kan. – The business of growing vegetables is the focus of a one-day conference at Seward County Community College in Liberal on Feb. 3. The conference is sponsored by K-State Research and Extension in Grant, Haskell, Meade, Seward, and Stevens counties.Many people know that Kansas is an important state in cereal grains and livestock, which are two parts of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food plate, said David Coltrain, sustainable agriculture resources program specialist at SCCC. But the other portion of the food plate is fruits and vegetables.“Kansas only produces about 4 percent of the more than $700 million of vegetables and fruits consumed by Kansans. We could probably produce 90 percent of the fruits and vegetables for Kansans and also grow products for people across the country,” Coltrain said. “Currently, Kansas has about 6,500 acres of vegetables.”Kansas was a larger producer of fruits and vegetables (more than 65,000 acres of vegetables in 1920) in the past, he said, adding that it ranked in the top five producing states for some fruit and vegetable crops.
The meeting at SCCC begins with registration at 8:45 a.m. in Rooms 229 C/D in the Student Union. Presentations, including some by K-State Research and Extension fruits and vegetables specialist Cary Rivard and Republic County grower Dan Kuhn, who grows about 150 acres of vegetables for the wholesale market, include:
Coltrain believes that western Kansas has the potential to produce vegetables in a big way in the near future.
“In general, vegetable crops only require about 20 percent as much water as corn production. So the declining aquifer situation could be addressed,” he said. “Kansas has less of a water quantity problem than Colorado and they are producing over 150,000 acres of vegetables each year.”
He noted that vegetable crops are high value, especially in the retail market. Some retail growers in eastern Kansas have reported gross sales of more than $100,000 per acre on vegetable crops.
“We do not need a huge amount of acres to change into vegetable production, but southwest Kansas could continue to produce a large amount of agriculture production dollars if a few acres were planted to high value vegetable crops,” Coltrain said.
The fee to attend is $10 per person, which includes lunch. The fee can be paid at the door, but organizers request that attendees reserve a spot by Jan. 29 by contacting Coltrain at 620-417-1354 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
K‑State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well‑being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K‑State campus in Manhattan.