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Thanksgiving Favorites Can Be a Challenge to Grow in Missouri

SPRINGFIELD – Cranberries, sweet potatoes and pecans are all favorite Thanksgiving foods that can successfully be grown in Missouri according to Kelly McGowan, horticulture field specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

Many consider cranberries to be an essential part of Thanksgiving. Cranberries are native to North America and are often found in bogs or other areas where the growing conditions are moist but well drained.

“Today cranberries are commercially grown in bogs, where the plants are submerged under water when the berries are ripe, the plants are combed, and the floating berries are harvested,” said McGowan.

Sweet potatoes also grace many Thanksgiving tables. They are native of tropical America: Caribbean islands, central and south America. Sweet potatoes are also very common in Missouri gardens.

“Sweet potatoes are dug before frost, and are in prime condition to bake or boil at Thanksgiving,” said McGowan. “Orange flesh types are excellent sources of beta carotene.”

Pecan pie is also a favorite way to conclude the Thanksgiving feast and pecans are also native to Missouri. The tree is found in lowlands, but grows best in well drained soils.

“Pecans begin to fall in late October, and can be cracked and kept in the freezer,” said McGowan. “Pecans are an excellent source of antioxidants, may help lower cholesterol levels, and can help preserve memory.”

For more information on pecans for Missouri, call the University of Missouri Extension in Greene County at (417) 881-8909 or go online to