5 min read

The program emphasizes environmental stewardship, best management practices, and economic viability of communities across Alabama.

Chip East, Extension REA, talking with farmerThe Commercial Horticulture Program provides research-based information to nurseries, landscape companies and sod producers, and fruit and vegetable growers with conventional or organic production systems. This is done through regional meetings, advanced workshops, grower conferences and exhibitions, field demonstrations, monthly webinars, and Facebook Live events such as Q&A Friday and Virtual Farm Tours started during the COVID-19 pandemic to improve accessibility of information for all Alabamians. A number of traditional handbooks and digital media are also available for producers and landscape personnel. The commercial horticulture team offers the Farming Basics certification program for small retailers and plant, soil, and pest diagnostic services for new or beginning farmers. Producers are strongly encouraged to download the Farming Basics mobile app for connecting with the team.

Program Directory

PPT Coordinator

  • Ayanava Majumdar
    • Extension Professor, Vegetable Entomology
    • (251) 331-8416
    • azm0024@aces.edu

Outreach Coordinators

  • Ann Chambliss
    • Program Assistant, Alabama Beginning Farmer & SARE Programs
    • (334) 707-4923
    • thameae@aces.edu
  • John T. Nabors
    • Administrator Alabama Green Industry Training Center
    • (205) 981-2326
    • jtn0003@aces.edu

Extension Specialists & Areas of Expertise

  • Elina D. Coneva
    • Fruit Production
    • (334) 750-0752
    • edc0001@aces.edu
  • Kassie N. Conner
    • Plant Diagnostics
    • (334) 844-5507
    • connekn@aces.edu
  • David Y. Han
    • Turfgrass
    • (334) 844-3980
    • handavi@aces.edu
  • Xing Ping Hu
    • Urban Entomology
    • (334) 750-9662
    • huxingp@aces.edu
  • James C. Jacobi
    • Plant Diagnostics (Birmingham)
    • (205) 910-2235
    • jacobjc@aces.edu
  • Joe Kemble
    • Vegetable Production
    • (334) 750-2649
    • kembljm@aces.edu
  • Steve Li
    • Weed Control
    • (334) 707-7370
    • steveli@aces.edu
  • Jeremy Pickens
    • Commercial Greenhouse & Nursery
    • (334) 319-3829
    • pickejm@aces.edu
  • Edward J. Sikora
    • Plant Pathologist
    • (334) 844-5502
    • sikorej@aces.edu
  • Sonja B. Thomas
    • Pesticide Safety Education
    • (334) 844-8832
    • sbt0010@aces.edu
  • Edgar Vinson
    • Fruit Production
    • (334) 728-2407
    • vinsoed@aces.edu
  • Katelyn Kesheimer
    • Turfgrass Entomology
    • (860) 508-3959
    • kak0083@aces.edu
  • Audrey Gamble
    • Soil Health
    • (334) 703-7901
    • avg0001@aces.edu
  • Adam Rabinowitz
    • Extension Economist, Production Economics and Policy
    • (334) 844-5620
    • anr0072@aces.edu
  • Amanda Strayer-Scherer
    • Soil Health
    • (334) 844-5074
    • ass0028@aces.edu
  • Wendiam Sawadgo
    • Extension Economist – Marketing
    • (334) 844-3538
    • wps0015@aces.edu


Regional Extension Agents (REA) & County Extension Coordinators (CEC)

Alabama Extension Team Leader County Subsets

Alabama Extension Team Leader County Subsets

Set 1

  • Lloyd D. Chapman – REA
    • (256) 262-2703
    • chapmld@aces.edu
  • Counties: Colbert, Fayette, Franklin, Lamar, Lauderdale, Limestone, Lawrence, Marion, Morgan, Walker, Winston

Set 2

  • Eric Schavey, REA
    • (256) 547-7936
    • ets0003@aces.edu
  • Counties: Blunt, Cherokee, Cullman, DeKalb, Etowah, Jackson, Madison, Marshall

Set 3

  • Rudy Yates, REA
    • (334) 422-1135
    • yatesrp@aces.edu
  • Kristin Woods, REA
    • Food Safety & Quality
    • (251) 275-3121
    • woodskl@aces.edu
  • Counties: Choctaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Marengo, Perry, Pickens, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, Wilcox

Set 4

  • Gary D. Gray, REA
    • (334) 539-2128
    • graygar@aces.edu
  • Bethany A. O’Rear, REA
    • (205) 612-9524
    • bao0004@aces.edu
  • Jessie Boswell, REA
    • (256) 362-6187
    • jab0170@aces.edu
  • Counties: Autauga, Bibb, Chilton, Elmore, Jefferson, Lowndes, Montgomery, Shelby, St. Clair

Set 5

  • William T. East, REA
    • (256) 846-0314
    • eastwil@aces.edu
  • Counties: Calhoun, Chambers, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, Lee, Macon, Russell, Talladega, Tallapoosa

Set 6

  • Counties: Baldwin, Butler, Clarke, Conecuh, Escambia, Mobile, Monroe, Washington

Set 7

  • Neil G. Kelly, REA
    • (334) 693-2010
    • ngk0001@aces.edu
  • Counties: Barbour, Bullock, Coffee, Crenshaw, Covington, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Pike

Training Programs

Man holding vegetable plant leavesNot all programs are offered in every county.

Beginning Farmer Training

Major Objectives: Train beginning farmers in crop production and plant protection methods, food safety, and marketing practices via regional Extension meetings, conferences, and field events organized in cooperation with nonprofit agencies and mentor farmers. Producers are strongly encouraged to complete the Farming Basics Online Course and the Farming Basics Mobile App as they become familiar with farming issues and require on-farm services.

Commercial Turfgrass Production & Management

Major Objectives: Provide best management practices for commercial turfgrass production and insect pest, disease, and weed management.

Alabama Fruit & Vegetable Growers Annual Conference

Major Objectives: This is an annual conference that provides an excellent opportunity for all specialty crop producers to learn about farming technologies and networking with peers and industry personnel. This event is presented in collaboration with the Alabama Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and the Alabama Farmers Federation.

Food Safety Regulation & Market Access

Major Objectives: Market demands and regulatory requirements for food safety training are significant challenges facing Alabama produce growers. The Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule (FSMA PSR) went into effect in January 2016. This law requires that a representative from each farm attend a Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) or equivalent training course provided by Alabama Extension.

Green Industry Support (Alabama Green Industry Center, Inc.)

Major Objectives: Provide professional training to turf and landscaping industry personnel on pesticide use and license, Worker protection standards and appropriate turf and garden best management practices.

Fruit Crop Production

Major Objectives: Increase production and marketing opportunities for fruit crops; increase awareness of new cultivars and orchard management techniques among growers. New projects focusing on improved strawberry and peach production methods are under way.

Commercial Nursery & Greenhouse Crop Production

Major Objectives: Support the growing commercial greenhouse and nursery industry statewide. The project provides hands-on training and resource materials for promoting best management practices to benefit producers.

Protected Agriculture (High Tunnel & Net House Vegetable Production)

Major Objectives: Train new producers intensively in field production of high-value crops in high tunnel and other protected structures. A training curriculum for producers is available as a reference. Rapid pest alert to all producers is provided via the Alabama IPM Communicator e-newsletter and websites along with on-farm support.

Conventional Vegetable IPM

Major Objectives: Increase the adoption of integrated pest management practices (IPM) for vegetable disease and insect management for a healthier environment; educate small agriculture retailers through participation in the Certified Horticultural Retailer Initiative; and develop new publications and promotional materials.

Group of people standing in a greenhouse.

Best Management Practices to Enhance Economic, Environmental, and Community Sustainability

Major Objectives: Increase the use of best management practices within commercial horticulture industries, concentrating on optimization of proper cultivar selection to enhance economic, environmental, and community sustainability.

Nutrient Management

Major Objectives: Publicize and reinforce specific statewide and regional recommendations to maximize yield potential while providing for economical use of fertilizers for commercial vegetable crops.

Organic Vegetable IPM

Major Objectives: Create awareness of organic vegetable production techniques among small producers and increase adoption of organic pest management practices. The project also aims to support producers seeking organic certification for their farms.

Pesticide Safety Education Program

Major Objectives: Improve public health and environmental quality and the safety of pesticide applicators, the community, and their families; educate and encourage farmers, industry, government, natural resource managers, and the public to adopt economically and environmentally sound pest and pesticide management practices.

Soil Health & Quality Recommendations

Major Objectives: Develop tools to evaluate soil health and quality; help producers learn the benefits of improving crop productivity by evaluating their soil quality.

Sustainable Horticultural Crop Production Reactive Activities

Major Objectives: Provide research-based answers to production-related issues in commercial horticulture. Provide diagnostic support services to all clientele via emails and phone calls in response to queries; provide timely pest alerts and recommendations; provide on-farm support to beginning and experienced farmers.

Farm & Agribusiness Management

Major Objectives: Provide farmers and agribusinesses with the most effective, up-to-date skillsto
build sustainable, profitable business operations. Areas include marketing, enterprise budgets, taxes, financial management, and enterprise analysis.

Team Resources Available at Alabamabeginningfarmer.com

Download this article as a PDF

Did you find this helpful?