KENNETT, Mo. – About 50 watermelon growers from across Missouri are expected to attend the annual Watermelon Growers Meeting on Dec. 5.

Registration for the free event begins at 8:30 a.m. at the American Legion building, 1615 First St. in Kennett.

Speakers include University of Missouri Extension specialists and representatives from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service and the National Watermelon Promotion Board. Ten sponsors will have informational booths and be on hand for questions.

David Dunn, MU Extension associate in soil testing in Portageville, will talk about the effect of the 2012 drought on soils. Reid Smeda, plant sciences professor at the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, will talk about weeds that are becoming increasingly resistant to control.

Jason Hanselman of the National Watermelon Promotion Board will talk about changes in the watermelon industry and how to promote sales of watermelon. MU Extension regional horticulture specialist Sarah Denkler will review the current melon crop industry in Missouri.

USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service representative Bob Garino will provide information on statistics related to the industry.

Pollination experts also will be available during the event.

Pre-registration is needed for lunch and handouts. Call the Butler County MU Extension Center at 573-686-8064.

Participants may receive two Certified Crop Adviser CEUs for attendance.

About watermelon production in Missouri

More than 95 percent of the watermelons grown in the state are raised in the sandy loam soils of Pemiscot and Dunklin counties in southeastern Missouri. Missouri is ranked eighth or ninth in watermelon production in the U.S. Missouri produces 3 percent of the total watermelon crop nationally. The average watermelon acreage per farmer is 50 to 80 acres. Only a few producers grow more than 100 acres of watermelons in Missouri. Nearly all watermelon growers in Missouri are primarily cotton producers. Cotton is an excellent rotation crop with watermelons. Eighty percent of the melon crop in southeastern Missouri is irrigated.

For more information about the U.S. watermelon industry, go to the National Watermelon Promotion Board website at

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