Thursday, July 13, 2017

EXCEL program will make a difference by developing new leaders and engaging Missourians

We are introducing the EXCCEL program to western Greene County. Here are details on the program and an application form.

What would be the goal of the program? – To develop individuals in western Greene County who can be leaders in their community or area and to also develop that important tie between a local newspaper and the development community leaders that want to find and implement community solutions.

How did this idea come about? – EXCEL is a statewide program offered by University of Missouri Extension to develop leaders. We learned this spring during statewide community conversations that rural communities are really struggling to find community leaders of any type. That is an expressed need statewide that this program is designed to respond to that need. But the program can be tailored to local resources and in western Greene County our main communities have a newspaper in common and so our program incorporates the local newspaper. There is a ton of research on the importance of newspapers and community engagement to finding answers to community issues. That is one of our goals and we think it can be accomplished while also developing leaders. Ryan Squibb and I have been talking about this type of model for several years and right now I have some funds to be able to totally underwrite the cost of launching this program. I think once we get it started it will be sustainable.

What are you most looking forward to by having this editorial board? – I’m excited to have an opportunity to learn about community issues and needs as well as networking with emerging leaders. That is part of the education and then sharing that information with the community as part of an editorial board really helps to get the entire community talking and engaged in finding solutions and working together. Sitting at home alone is not a very good way to find community issues, develop working relationships, or get engagement.

How do you think it would serve the Extension? The County/Southwest Missouri area? - MU Extension is all about engagement. This is a great example of engagement with long-term impacts. But we need people to commit to the meetings for 9 months and we need people to apply. Ideally we want 6 from Republic, 3 from Ash Grove, 3 from Willard and 2 from non-incorporated areas.

Can you describe to me how the process will work? Ryan mentioned something about small classes or workshops being conducted and from there a person would be selected to write an editorial piece on a select topic. Does this sound about right? – We will meet monthly. Program participants will work in teams to set up an engaging meeting. Each month we will focus on one community or one issue and invite existing leaders to come visit with the group, From that month’s team will write an editorial. Over the course of the entire program the entire group will develop a community event or activity to address a particular need as an ending project. We will also have a trip to Jefferson City and a meal and tour of the Greene County jail.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Twisted Tomatoes Spreading Concern in Southwest Missouri

June 30, 2017
Contact: Robert Balek, horticulture specialist
Headquartered in Jasper County
Tel: 417-358-2158
Photo at

CARTHAGE, Mo. -- From backyard gardens to full-fledged growers, something twisted is happening to tomato plants in southwest Missouri.

“The first sample came in around June 15 from Dade County,” said University of Missouri Extension Horticulture Specialist Robert Balek.

A Dade County resident brought a portion of the suspect plant into the Dade County Extension office. University of Missouri Agronomy Specialist Jill Scheidt examined the sample there and realized it was not a typical case.

“At first, it looked like it could have been herbicide damage,” said Scheidt. “The leaves and stems were twisted and curled, but there were some differences between the sample and typical herbicide damage which told me it might be something else, something new.”

The sample had curled leaves and stems, but only in the top portion of the plant.  Also, not all of the tomatoes in the garden had these symptoms.  Another part of the mystery was that no herbicides were applied anywhere near the tomatoes. 

That is when a call was made to Jasper County.  “The correct diagnosis is required to know how to proceed with the crop, the plants, and the soil,” said Balek.  “This certainly was an unusual specimen. Since then, more samples came in almost daily form Jasper County.”

Drift from herbicides such as Banvel or 2,4-D can cause twisting and curling of tomato plants, but so can a microscopic pathogen called Tomato Curly Top Virus. 

The aptly named virus causes twisted, curly growth similar to that of herbicide damage, but there are subtle differences.

Tomatoes are very susceptible to herbicide drift, sometimes from as far as a quarter mile to half a mile away.  Cucumbers, peppers, and grapes are also very sensitive, and would all show symptoms in affected areas as well.  If these plants are present and healthy while the tomatoes are curled, you can likely rule out drift as a cause.

Curling can result from herbicide residues in soils, brought in by contaminated compost or mulch, but this also would affect other plants in the same soil.

To be sure, do a bio-assy.  Simply plant a few seeds of green beans near the affected plants.  As the beans sprout and new leaves appear, they should be straight and smooth.  Any curling could mean that herbicide residue is present in the soil. 

While Curly Top Virus is one possibility, there are other diseases which can curl tomato leaves. 

“If you are certain that no herbicide was applied anywhere near your tomatoes, and you have a clean bioassay on your soil, but you still see curling symptoms, contact your local extension office.

Contact Jill Scheidt at the Dade County Extension, 2 N. Main Street, Greenfield or phone: 417-637-2112; contact Robert Balek at the Jasper County Extension, 302 S. Main, Carthage or phone 417-358-2158

DOWNLOAD PHOTOS FOR USE WITH THIS STORY - Suspected Curly Top Virus Sample - Banvel Damage on Tomato