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US (NY): Upcoming workshops on berry cultivation under covers

As dramatic weather events increase, pest pressure intensifies, and local markets vitalize, New York berry growers are looking for ways to protect their crop and lengthen their season. Growers and educators are trialling techniques for growing berries under cover. Berry farmers across New York can attend one of three regional workshops offered by the New York State Berry Growers Association (NYSBGA) this winter to learn more about these innovations in berry growing. These day-long workshop will feature multiple short presentations, hands-on or interactive activities, and words from growers discussing the newest research in tunnels and exclusion netting.

Many New York State farmers who are experimenting with growing berries under cover are having great successes. "I am so glad I listened to Marvin Pritts' recommendation to grow my day neutral strawberries under low tunnels," said Guinevere Panek, co-owner of Panek's Pickin Patch. "There was much less water damage and disease pressure, resulting in more marketable berries. I picked two to three weeks longer than usual. I was able to supply my CSA members with strawberries right through the end of October. There was even ice on top of the tunnels one morning, but the berries underneath were beautiful!"

Presentations by Cornell researchers, Extension educators from PSU and Cornell Cooperative Extension, and experienced berry growers will address advances in growing under cover. These include: day-neutral strawberry cultivars for low tunnels, choosing and recycling tunnel plastic, using technological tools to predict weather events, disease and insect management, growing raspberries in high tunnels, and using exclusion netting to protect against Spotted Wing Drosophila. Attendees will participate in hands-on activities, and receive a take-home resource guide and supplies. DEC credits in categories 1A, 22, 23 and 10 have been requested.

Workshop registration is $25 per person for NYSBGA Members, and $50 per person for Non-Members, which includes lunch and take-home materials. Participants can save on workshop registration by joining the NYS Berry Growers Association; 2017 Membership is $125 and applies to two individuals per farm. Associate Membership is $75 for non-profit agricultural professionals. Business members can join for $250 and receive two advertisements in our newsletter which reaches berry growers throughout the state.

Regional dates and locations
  • December 14, 2016: CLEREL (Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Lab) 6592 West Main Road Portland, NY, 14769 Register by December 7th
  • January 17, 2017: Oncenter Convention Center Syracuse, NY at the Empire State Producers EXPO to attend this workshop, register at
  • March 7, 2016: Cornell Cooperative Extension Suffolk County Extension Education Center 423 Griffing Avenue, Suite 100 Riverhead, New York 11901-3071 Register by Feb 28th
NYSBGA President, Dale Ila Riggs says, "Berries are one of the most sought after agricultural products grown in this state and enjoy only positive attributes. The ground-breaking research on protected culture currently being done in NYS gives NYS growers an important “leg up” on competitors from other states by enabling berry production to occur five to even seven months a year."

The workshops are sponsored by the NYS Berry Growers Association, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, with funding support from the NYS Legislature

For more information:
NYS Berry Growers Association
Cara Fraver
(646) 284-7762
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