HARLINGEN — There’s much more to the livestock show than livestock.
Besides bellowing heifers, squealing hogs, bleating goats and lambs, students also show shop projects, photography and horticulture at the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show.
John Cash, agriculture science teacher at Harlingen High School, has 11 students entering horticulture projects, including passion flower and cactus. Cash said the students had to purchase their plants by Dec. 15.
Students had to choose their plants carefully, because each present some challenges.
“If it’s in the flowering category, it had better be blooming,” Cash said.
“If it’s in the vegetable category, like tomatoes, it had better have tomatoes.”
Madison Callier, a freshman at the Harlingen School for Health Professions, is showing hogs at the livestock show, but she’s also competing in the horticulture competition.
She accepted the challenge of a flowering plant when she decided to raise a marigold with maroon-to-yellow blooms.
“Since I need it to start blooming now, I do this thing called force blooming,” said Madison, 15, a member of the Harlingen South FFA.
“For two weeks straight I keep it in the dark for 12 hours, and then the next 12 hours I keep it in the light,” she said. “After that it gets another two weeks, and then right from then it starts blooming.”
Madison also fertilized her marigold with Miracle Gro and watered it each Sunday and Wednesday.
She’s been writing meticulous notes in a record book throughout the process, and she’ll turn in the book along with photographs to the livestock show. She’s most enjoyed taking photographs as the plant has grown.
“I took them when I needed to, but I would take them every week, because when you take them every week you can definitely see the growth then,” she said. “So usually my mom and I will do that and then we’ll put them together right before the stock show and it’s like super cool to see the growth.”