2018 New York State Berry Market Analysis

New York State Berry Growers association berry pricing survey.jpg

By Trent Davis
Dr. Miguel Gomez
Dr. Marvin Pritts

 

In 2019, Cornell Food Industry Management Program in conjunction with the New York State Berry Growers Association distributed a berry pricing survey to 414 commercial berry growers across New York State. The survey was distributed to make recent statewide berry pricing information available to commercial berry growers so they may be able to better evaluate the economic returns of their various berry crops. The information collected will be able to see how berry pricing trends have evolved since 2013, when the most recent NY state berry pricing survey was conducted. Information from the previous studies conducted in 2009 and 2006 will also be included.

 

The survey distributed in 2019 was the same pricing survey commercial berry producers received in 2009. Producers were asked to list the prices they received during the 2012 season for four major berry crops (strawberries, blueberries, brambles (raspberries, blackberries), and ribes (currants, gooseberries)) – all currently being grown in NY state. Growers were also given the opportunity to list other berry crops, and the related pricing information, on the survey. Pricing information was requested for three markets; pick-your-own (PYO), wholesale, and retail venues (farmers market, farm stores, fruit stands). Producers were also asked if they used their berry crops in value added products, and if they were organically certified.

 

Read more about the changes in berry pricing over time.

SWD Management in Raspberries & Blackberries

new-york-state-berry-growers-how-to-control-swd-raspberries-blackberries.jpg

New York State’s rainy spring and hot, humid summer has caused spotted wing drosophila populations to swell. Raspberries are more susceptible to the pest than any other berry crop, so arming yourself with information and control methods is a must.

The most important defense for raspberries against SWD is a good insecticide program. In order to determine the best program for your farm, consider:

  • Population growth—growth models will give you an idea of SWD population size, and allow you to treat with the most effective insecticides before numbers get out of control.

  • Insecticide rotation—using treatments from different IRAC groups reduces resistance in SWD.

  • The most effective insecticides—according to researchers at Cornell University, these include Delegate WG (1 day), Bifenture 10DF (3 days), Brigade WSB 2(ee) (3 days), Brigade EC 2(ee) (3 days), Danitol 2.4EC (3 days), and Mustang Maxx (1 day). They recommend, “Choose first the one with the longest pre-harvest interval (given in parentheses) that you can accommodate; some may be out of the question at this point. Rotate to other insecticides with shorter pre-harvest intervals for closer to harvest.”

  • Subsequent applications—try a lower-efficacy insecticide, including Entrust Naturalyte 2(ee) (1 day), Entrust SC 2(ee) (1 day), Assail 30SG 2(ee) (1 day), Malathion 5EC 2(ee) (1 day), Malathion 8 Aquamul 2(ee) (1 day), Malathion 57 2(ee) (1 day), or Molt-X (0 days). Don’t stretch intervals between sprays by more than 7 days!

  • Know your organic-approved sprays—like Entrust 2(ee) (1 day) (Naturalyte and SC formulations). Rotate with either Pyganic (0 days), AzaSol (0 days), Grandevo (0 days), or Venerate (0 days).

  • Ensure that you cover crops completely—instead of alternate-row spraying, spray every row. And know your spraying intervals for each type of insecticide.

  • Re-set raspberry and blackberry fields—following high numbers of SWD in traps or salt flotation tests, re-set the field by clean-picking all ripe fruit and culling. Freeze or solarize infected fruit. You should do this regularly as part of your sanitation program. Then use a high-efficacy insecticide on your fields with an appropriate days-to-harvest interval.

  • Mow, weed, and prune—this will minimize the damp, shaded environment SWD prefer, eliminate alternate hosts, and improve spray penetration.

  • Follow good cold-chain practices—store harvested fruit, as soon as possible after harvest, in a cool at 32 to 24 degrees F to slow and kill SWD larvae and eggs.

For more details, monitoring tips, and additional resources, visit the Cornell IPM blog.

The Effect of the Trump Administration’s China Tariffs on Farmers

new-york-state-berry-growers-how-trump-tariffs-affect-farmers.jpeg

As the trade war with China stretches into its second year, the agricultural industry has been hit hard. Many farmers felt that the $12 billion aid program set up in 2018, after the first series of tariffs were levied, didn’t do enough to prevent losses. Meanwhile, economists who analyzed the subsidies found them to be not as effective as opening foreign markets to trade. 

                    

After last month’s unsuccessful trade negotiations between the U.S. and Chinese presidents, the White House raised tariffs from 10 percent to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, with President Trump threatening to raise duties on an additional $325 billion worth of imported items—accounting for nearly all of U.S. imports from China. In return, Chinese president Xi Jinping, promised “necessary countermeasures,” in addition to the tariffs that have already been levied on $110 billion in U.S. products.

 

As the trade war escalates, the Trump Administration is looking into additional aid for farmers. “Make no mistake about it, we have already had preliminary discussions in the White House for additional support for farmers if this impasse with China continues,” said Vice President Mike Pence, the vice president, during a May 9 event in Minnesota. But with no solutions on the table at the moment, and the vast majority of economists  rejecting the argument that tariffs are good for the United States, farmers are left wondering what will happen next.

 

Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union (NFU), released this statement:

 

“China’s unfair and manipulative trade practices are clearly a problem that need to be fixed. But addressing these practices has created new problems for American farmers and ranchers in the form of lost export markets, a commodity glut, and severely depressed prices.

 

“We are more than a year into this trade war with China, and this most recent escalation suggests that there is no end in sight. At this point, we can’t expect export markets to go back to the way they were—the damage has already been done. In the long term, there needs to be a fundamental shift in the way we establish the economic sustainability of agricultural production in the U.S. But until that happens, struggling family farmers and ranchers are in desperate need of a lifeboat to keep them afloat, whether that’s another round of Marketing Facilitation Program payments or some other form of economic disaster assistance.”

Managing Strawberry Fruit Rots with Biopesticides

image001.jpg

A special thank-you to Dr. Kerik Cox for sharing this article in our May newsletter. Because we just didn’t have enough space to run all of his informative graphs, we’re including the remainder here. Refer to your print newsletter to read the text of the article in its entirety.


image010.jpg

Figure 3. Mean percent incidence of Botrytis fruit rot at harvest in October 2018 in a day-neutral planting of ‘Albion’ strawberries with application timings using ‘NEWA’ or on a ‘Calendar’ schedule for organic (green) and conventional (orange) fungicide programs. Values represent means and standard errors of six plots. Columns denoted by the same letter for plots under “cover” (low tunnels) or “uncovered” are not significantly different (P < 0.05) according to the LSMEANS procedure in SAS 9.4 with an adjustment for Tukey’s HSD to control for family-wise error.

 

 

image012.jpg

Figure 4. Mean percent incidence of Botrytis fruit rot at harvest in October 2018 in a day-neutral planting of ‘Albion’ strawberries planted on open plastic (cover) or under low tunnels (no cover) for calendar timings (yellow 7-10 days) and NEWA strawberry fruit rot systems (blue “High” risk). Values represent means and standard errors of six plots. Columns denoted by the same letter capital (plots under tunnels) or lowercase (uncovered plots) are not significantly different (P < 0.05) according to the LSMEANS procedure in SAS 9.4 with an adjustment for Tukey’s HSD to control for family-wise error. 

Cornell Small Fruit Survey Needs Your Input

New-York-State-Berry-Growers-survey-growing-currants-goji-berries-crop.jpg

Are you interested in diversifying your farmers’ market, farm stand, or CSA offerings with specialty fruit crops? Have you ever thought about growing currants, kiwiberries, goji berries, beach plums, or other “unusual” fruits?

Cornell University needs your input to help guide a project that aims to develop growing recommendations and enterprise budgets for unusual fruit crops in New York. Fill out their online survey now through May 31, 2019.

Cornell’s Juliet Carroll Earns Excellence in IPM Award

juliet-carroll-new-york-state-berry-growers-association.jpg

Dr. Juliet Carroll, Fruit IPM Coordinator at Cornell University, earned the Excellence in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Award from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYSIPM) at the Viticulture day of the B.E.V. (Business, Enology, Viticulture) conference in Rochester. The award honors individuals who encourage the adoption of IPM in their businesses, schools, communities, and farms, and who develop new tools and tactics for sharing these practices.

 

Dr. Carroll spearheaded the expansion of NEWA, a website and network that allows growers to understand how the weather will affect fungal and insect pests, and takes the guesswork out of their pest-management strategy. Carroll ran NEWA for over a decade. Under her leadership, NEWA went from 45 weather stations in New York State to over 500 in 12 states. Her work, along with Wayne Wilcox and Greg Loeb, on improving the user experience with the grape disease and grape berry moth models on NEWA, had an enormous impact on the implementation of grape IPM in New York.

 

Dr. Carroll also led the development of Trac software. Introduced in the early 2000s, the software simplified and digitized pesticide recordkeeping for large and small growers and processors alike. It allows farmers to input the information once, and generate customized reports for different processors. The software also includes reference to “IPM Elements” for grapes and other crops—a tool that helps growers assess their pest management practices.

 

Dr. Carroll built Trac software for five fruit crops, and partnered with a colleague to create TracTurfgrass for golf, lawns, sports fields and sod farms. Luke Haggerty, grower relations representative for Constellation Brands, calls Carroll’s TracGrape software “a true breakthrough” in recordkeeping. Of her work with NEWA, Haggerty says, “Julie has always been very proactive in developing and delivering the products needed for our growers to produce grapes in an environmentally and economically sustainable way.”

 

Tim Martinson, Cornell Cooperative Extension Viticulture specialist, noted, “IPM is built on information and decision-making tools. Juliet has built TracGrape and NEWA into useful, practical tools for growers.”

 

Dr. Carroll also co-edited organic production and IPM guides for grapes and several berry crops, and has regularly presented at Lake Erie Regional Grape Growers’ conferences and Coffee Pot meetings. She has conducted research on devastating pests, such as spotted wing drosophila (SWD), investigating whether hungry hummingbirds can provide meaningful control.

 

In addition, Dr. Carroll has chaired the Northeast IPM SWD working groups for the past decade, bringing research scientists, growers, industry reps, and extension educators from across the region together to help find solutions. Carroll has also helped fruit growers with bird management.

 

Learn more about integrated pest management at nysipm.cornell.edu.

The Opioid Epidemic and Agriculture

ny-state-berry-growers-opioid-addiction-resources-cropped.jpg

The truth about opioids in the United States is sobering: no corner of the country remains untouched by the epidemic. With access to prevention, treatment, and support services sorely lacking in rural areas, these regions are now surpassing cities in rates of death from opioid overdose. Suzanne Flaum, Gleaning Assistant for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orange County writes, “Recent reports show that those who work in occupations with higher rates of injury (farming, construction, roofing, etc.) where workers are less able to take time off to heal are more likely to medicate acute or chronic pain symptoms with opioids, leading to increased likelihood of addiction.”

The American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union conducted a study in 2017. They found that 74 percent of farmers and farm workers report having been affected by opioid abuse, either by taking (and developing addictions to) these medications themselves, or by knowing someone who has dealt with an addiction. And only 38 percent of those people believe that local care would be effective, affordable, or covered by their health insurance.

If you, a friend, or family member is struggling with opioid use or addiction, CCE Orange County has collected these resources for finding necessary, life-saving help:

Join Us for an In-Depth Blueberry School in March!

new-york-state-berry-growers-association-blueberry-growing-workshop

We’re partnering with the experts art Cornell CCE to bring you the region’s first-ever blueberry intensive, an in-depth look at blueberry growing techniques, pests and diseases, marketing and other business topics, and an afternoon demonstration on working farms. Mark your calendar for March 5 in Ellicottville in Cattaraugus County, and March 14 in Millbrook in Duchess County.

 

Here are the complete agendas for both workshops; scroll down to view full details.

 

Blueberry Intensive Workshop—Ellicottville

March 5, 2019

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cattaraugus County

28 Parkside Drive, Ellicottville, New York

Sign up here.

 

8:30–9:00 am: Registration—DEC credit sign-up

9:00–9:10 am: Welcome/introductions
Esther Kibbe, CCE Harvest NY and/or Laura McDermott, CCE ENYCHP

9:10–9:30 am: Considerations when choosing and prepping a site for blueberry production,
Kathy Demchak, Berry Specialist, Pennsylvania State University
Site selection and preparation is one of the most important aspects in terms of long-term success, as it will impact overall plant growth, pest pressure, weed management, and fruit quality.                       

9:30–10:00 am: Blueberry diseases of note
Dr. Kerik Cox, Plant Pathologist, Cornell University
Dr. Cox will outline the major diseases that blueberry growers in Western NY need to be aware of.  He’ll discuss the most successful management strategies, including conventional fungicide programs and organically appropriate approaches. 

10:00–10:30 am: Managing blueberry insect pests
Dr. Dara Stockton, Entomology Research Assoc., Cornell University
Dr. Stockton will discuss major blueberry insect pests including cranberry and cherry fruit worm, blueberry maggot and Spotted Wing Drosophila. Pests like scale that may increasing due to more aggressive spray programs will also be discussed.  

10:30–10:40 am: Break        

10:40–11:10 am: Using the NEWA blueberry pest and disease models to your best advantage
Dr. Juliet Carroll, Fruit IPM Specialist, NYS IPM
Dr. Carroll will lead growers through a hands-on discussion of the NEWA pest models that will allow growers to better time and hopefully reduce sprays while still getting good control of pests. 

11:10–11:30 am: Alternative options for markets
Cheryl Thayer, CCE Harvest NY
Farm to school, value added, nutraceuticals, organic wholesale—market options are plentiful for blueberries.

11:30 am–12:15 pm: Berry crops profitability tool—knowledge is power!
Dr. Miguel Gomez, Agriculture Economist, Cornell

12:15–1:00 pm: Lunch (provided)

 1:00–1:20 pm: Making it work at Duda’s Blues Berry Farm
David Duda, owner, Duda’s Blues, Machias, NY     

 1:20–2:10 pm: Blueberry nutrition
Kathy Demchak, Berry Specialist, Pennsylvania State University
Feeding blueberries is an important and challenging aspect of blueberry culture. Acidity of soil and water plays a huge role, so a discussion about acidification will be part of the presentation. Plants in good vigor are much better at resisting insect and disease pests.          

2:10–2:30 pm: Post-harvest handling—reducing pest damage and improving fruit quality
Laura McDermott, CCE ENYCHP
One method of preserving fruit quality in harvested berries that may have had pressure from SWD is immediate and adequate chilling. Growers need to understand the importance of removing field heat and how to do it quickly with forced air cooling. Modified atmosphere packaging will also be discussed along with helpful tools like a CoolBot. 

2:30–3:00 pm: Pruning correctly throughout the life of the planting
Dr. Marvin Pritts, Horticulture, Cornell University
Like nutrition, good cultural care is important for an overall vigorous and pest durable plant. Pruning is as the plant moves through its juvenile period so that will be described. 

3:00–3:30 pm: Transition to field—Great Valley Berry Patch
5608 Humphrey Rd., Great Valley, NY
Owner: Nadine Litchfield, 716-945-5221, gvberrypatch@gmail.com

3:30–4:00 pm: Pest scouting and weed management discussion
Dr. Marvin Pritts, with help from Laura McDermott and Esther Kibbe
Examining existing blueberries in the early season is the first thing to do for pest control. Looking for scale, mummyberry apothecia, and gall’s while plants are just breaking dormancy is crucial.  Weed populations will begin to be evident as well. Herbicides are often used in the early pre-bud break time period for best results. Adding mulch should be done in the spring. 

4:00–4:30 pm: Pruning demonstration
Dr. Marvin Pritts, with help from Laura McDermott and Esther Kibbe
This hands-on opportunity will provide continued discussion of the 2:30 afternoon session. We’ll address the differences in cultivars and pruning approaches, which will become more obvious as we look at plants. The use of a pneumatic pruner will be demonstrated, as well as more traditional tools. 

 4:30 pm: Workshop adjourns

 Sign up for the Ellicottville workshop today!

Blueberry Intensive Workshop—Millbrook

March 14, 2019
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Dutchess County
2715 Route 44, Millbrook, New York
Sign up here.

 

8:30–9:00 am: Registration–DEC credit sign-up  

9:00–9:10 am: Welcome/Introductions
Laura McDermott, CCE ENYCHP

9:10–9:30 am: Considerations when choosing and prepping a site for blueberry production
Gary Pavlis, Berry Specialist, Rutgers University
Site selection and preparation is one of the most important aspects in terms of long-term success, as it will impact overall plant growth, pest pressure, weed management, and fruit quality.                       

9:30–10:00 am: Blueberry diseases of note
Dr. Kerik Cox, Plant Pathologist, Cornell University
Dr. Cox will outline the major diseases that blueberry growers in Western NY need to be aware of.  He’ll discuss the most successful management strategies, including conventional fungicide programs and organically appropriate approaches. 

10:00–10:30 am: Managing blueberry insect pests
Dr. Dara Stockton, Entomology Research Assoc., Cornell University
Dr. Stockton will discuss major blueberry insect pests including cranberry and cherry fruit worm, blueberry maggot and Spotted Wing Drosophila. Pests like scale that may increasing due to more aggressive spray programs will also be discussed.  

10:30–10:40 am: Break    

10:40–11:10 am: Using the NEWA blueberry pest and disease models to your best advantage 
Dr. Juliet Carroll, Fruit IPM Specialist, NYS IPM
Dr. Carroll will lead growers through a hands-on discussion of the NEWA pest models that will allow growers to better time and hopefully reduce sprays while still getting good control of pests. 

11:10–11:30 am: Alternative options for markets
Lindsey Pashow, CCE Harvest NY
Farm to school, value added, nutraceuticals, organic wholesale–market options are plentiful for blueberries.

11:30 am–12:15 pm: Berry crops profitability tool—knowledge is power!
Dr. Miguel Gomez, Agriculture Economist, Cornell University
Understanding your expenses and how they compare to local averages and external competitors will help you strategize for future success. Bring some of your own data and learn how to utilize this brand new tool to your advantage. Growers are encouraged to bring a laptop to the class.

2:15–1:00 pm: Lunch (provided)

1:00–1:20 pm: Making it work at Samascott Farm
Jake Samascott, owner, Samascott Farm, Kinderhook, NY 

 1:20–2:10 pm: Blueberry nutrition
Gary Pavlis, Rutgers University
Feeding blueberries is an important and challenging aspect of blueberry culture. Acidity of soil and water plays a huge role, so a discussion about acidification will be part of the presentation. Plants in good vigor are much better at resisting insect and disease pests.          

2:10–2:30 pm: Post-harvest handling—reducing pest damage and improving fruit quality
Laura McDermott, CCE ENYCHP
One method of preserving fruit quality in harvested berries that may have had pressure from SWD is immediate and adequate chilling. Growers need to understand the importance of removing field heat and how to do it quickly with forced air cooling. Modified atmosphere packaging will also be discussed along with helpful tools like a CoolBot. 

2:30–3:00 pm: Pruning correctly throughout the life of the planting
Dr. Marvin Pritts, Horticulture, Cornell University
Like nutrition, good cultural care is important for an overall vigorous and pest durable plant. Pruning is as the plant moves through its juvenile period so that will be described. 

3:00–3:30 pm: Transition to field—Mead’s Orchard
15 Scism Rd., Tivoli, NY

3:30–4:00 pm: Pest scouting and weed management discussion
Dr. Marvin Pritts, with help from Laura McDermott and Esther Kibbe
Examining existing blueberries in the early season is the first thing to do for pest control. Looking for scale, mummyberry apothecia, and gall’s while plants are just breaking dormancy is crucial.  Weed populations will begin to be evident as well. Herbicides are often used in the early pre-bud break time period for best results. Adding mulch should be done in the spring. 

4:00–4:30 pm: Pruning demonstration
Dr. Marvin Pritts, with help from Laura McDermott and Esther Kibbe
This hands-on opportunity will provide continued discussion of the 2:30 afternoon session. We’ll address the differences in cultivars and pruning approaches, which will become more obvious as we look at plants. The use of a pneumatic pruner will be demonstrated, as well as more traditional tools. 

 4:30 pm: Workshop adjourns

 Sign up for the Millbrook workshop today!

 For questions about programming, contact: Esther Kibbe, ejp9@cornell.edu; or Laura McDermott, 518-791-5038, lgm4@cornell.edu.  

 

For questions about registration, contact Karen Wilson, nysbga@gmail.com.

 

For questions the day of the event, contact Tamara Bacho, 716-699-2377, tsb48@cornell.edu.

2018 Farm Bill Passes House and Senate

new-york-state-berry-growers-association-2018-farm-bill.jpg

In December, the 2018 Farm Bill, featuring more than $400 billion in agriculture subsidies, conservation programs, and food aid, passed the House 369–47 and the Senate 87–13. It was signed into law by President Donald Trump just before the holidays.

Although the President and the Republican majority in Congress were initially in favor of two provisions—more stringent work requirements for food stamp recipients, and relaxed restrictions on pesticide use—both became points of contention during House negotiations and were left off the Senate version of the bill.

Among its highlights, the bill reauthorizes crop insurance and conservation programs. It also supports trade programs, bioenergy production, and organic farming research, and it increases funding for employment and training programs by almost $15 million. Under the new law, dairy farmers will benefit from reduced-cost support programs, and industrial hemp cultivation will become legal. While the bill maintains current limits on farm subsidies, it expands the definition of family to include first cousins, nieces, and nephews, making them eligible for payments under the program.

New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher said, “Today’s final vote for the 2018 Farm Bill is a major victory for New York’s farmers, rural communities and consumers. Farmers needed stronger risk management tools in place moving into next year, where there are signs that the economic stress will continue in the farming community. In particular, the new Farm Bill enhances the dairy safety net for farms of every size, including increasing the margin that qualifies for federal insurance programs. New York Farm Bureau also appreciates the research and support programs in the bill that will benefit New York’s specialty crop producers. Having some certainty moving forward in challenging times is a relief for farmers.”

Fisher continued, “In addition, the Farm Bill supports critical conservation programs, rural development projects, and marketing and research programs to expand market opportunities for farmers. It legalizes industrial hemp which will benefit farms interested in diversification. And the legislation provides permanent funding to help veterans and a new generation of beginning farmers. The biggest portion of the Farm Bill also guarantees Americans, who can least afford to eat, the ability to access the food farmers produce.”

Read a summary of the bill here.

Can a Robot Be the Future of Berry Crop Pollination?

Photo by Yu Gu, West Virginia University

Photo by Yu Gu, West Virginia University

Recognizing both the sobering statistics for colonies of pollinators and the steadily increasing global population, scientists at West Virginia University, in a project funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s National Robotics Initiative, have created a robot called the BrambleBee. Says Dr. Yu Gu, Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at WVU, “We are not aiming at replacing bees. We are hoping to use the robotic pollinator in places where bees are not available or not enough.”

 

This includes high tunnels, where the growing season can be extended, but where pollination is more difficult because light diffusion makes it harder for honeybees to navigate the crops.

 

So far, the BrambleBee has been tested on blackberry plantings. Like a self-driving car, the BrambleBee is a robot that learns to navigate specific places. Using lidar—a detection system that works similarly to radar, but uses light from a laser instead of radio waves—the robot first creates a 3-D map of a greenhouse. It then passes through the rows again, with the purpose of reaching as many flowers as possible with its mechanical arm. After positioning itself in front of a plant, the BrambleBee takes photos of the plants and flowers and creates an even higher-resolution map.

 

When it finds a flower that’s ready for pollination, the BrambleBee extends a small 3-D-printed brush with flexible polyurethane bristles—modeled on the scopa, or hairs of the honeybee—to gently loosen the pollen. This transfers the pollen from the anthers to the pistils for pollination. The BrambleBee is thought to be careful enough to work alongside bees, as opposed to miniature pollinating drones, which may injure bees as they hover over and around crops.

 

Says Dr. Nicole Waterland, Associate Professor of Horticulture at WVU, “A robotic pollinator does not need to rest and could potentially pollinate continually.” Another benefit of the BrambleBee: the ability to work in multiple locations. Neighboring farms could share the cost of a unit and then transfer the robot between them for autonomous pollination.

 

The BrambleBee is still in the experimental stage, but early results are promising for it and other robotic tools. “We hope this is the beginning of a new era in crop production using robotic systems,” Waterland says. “We would like to utilize this platform as a start to create a robot that could act as a grower’s assistant. We hope the robot could help with monitoring the health status of the plant, e.g., monitoring water status and nutrient needs.”

Are Superfruits Right for Your Farm?

ny-berry-growers-association-superfruits-elderberry.jpg

You’ve probably noticed an increase in customer demand for superfruits—fruits that are chock-full of nutrients and are known to have a wide range of health benefits, from improving vision to protecting the body against cancer and other diseases. Luckily for berry growers, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are all counted among the superfruit category. But there are a few other berries you might want to consider, as reported in Growing Produce.

Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis; Sambucus nigra). A favorite folk medicine of the original US settlers and pioneers, elderberries are high in antioxidants and are thought to be valuable for supporting the immune system against colds, flus, and other infections. Studies of elderberry have also shown positive effects on heart health, antidepressant properties, and protection against UV radiation.

Honeyberry (Lonicera caerulea). Also known as haskap, this berry is a great choice for the Northeast, with its strong preference for colder climates. Its tart flavor is best combined with other berries or natural sweeteners. Honeyberry is rich in flavonoids, which help reduce inflammation and improve eyesight, and may have anticancer action.

Goji berry (Lycium barbarum). Long prized in China as a medicinal food, the goji berry grows well in multiple climates, including that of the Northeast. High in fiber, protein, and a range of vitamins and minerals, goji is being studied for its antiaging and anticancer benefits, as well as its protection against diabetes and heart disease.

Many of these berries have been making appearances in farmers’ markets and gourmet stores in jams, wines, syrups, and dried forms; these could prove to be important income generators in the future, so give them some thought if you’re planning to expand your crops.

FY 2019 H-2B Cap Relief Update

FEWA logo.jpg

The Federation of Employers and Workers of America (FEWA) has shared this important update.

 

Last month, the Appropriations Committees filed the conference agreement on the FY 19 Labor-HHS and Department of Defense “minibus” appropriations bill, which includes a continuing resolution (CR) to maintain funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal Departments through December 7, 2018.  

 

What does this mean for H-2B?

The conference report that was filed would continue the Department of Labor (DOL) H-2B provisions that have been included in past funding bills.  No immediate changes to the program.

Cap relief is not included in this “minibus” bill that is expected to be signed into law.

 

What does this mean for H-2B Cap Relief?

The CR for the DHS though December 7 is important, as it relieves the pressure of a governmental shutdown.

The DHS funding bill passed by the House Appropriations Committee in July would exempt returning workers from the annual H-2B visa cap, along with other adjustments. The Senate Appropriations Committee–passed version of FY 2019 DHS funding bill asks DHS to consider a more equitable annual allocation of the 66,000 visas. 

Congress will not take up an FY 2019 funding bill for DHS after the November 7 elections. THIS WILL BE OUR OPPORTUNITY FOR H-2B CAP RELIEF. 

 

What can you do?

After this bill is signed into law, House members will be returning to their home districts to begin campaigning for election day. Meet with your representative at home and stress the importance the H-2B program has on your business and the need for immediate cap relief. View H-2B Cap Relief Talking Points.  

After November 7 elections, Congress will return to DC, and within the first week concentrate on electing leadership roles. Once that is complete they will have until December 7 to negotiate the remaining bills to fund the government. THIS WILL BE OUR OPPORTUNITY FOR THE H-2B RETURNING WORKER EXEMPTION. 

 

FEWA and the H-2B Workforce Coalition continue to urge Congress to include the House cap relief language in a final appropriations bill. FEWA’s Jarrod Sharp and Robin Svec will be in Washington, DC, later this month to further advocate for this language.

 

In addition to continuing to push for Congress to pass H-2B cap relief we will let you know when Congress votes on this legislation.

Cornell CCE Needs Your Input in a Quick Survey

berry-growers-survey-cornell-cce-ny-berry-growers

The New York State Berry Growers Association and Cornell Cooperative Extension have partnered on a survey to better understand the current status and future growth potential of New York’s berry industry, as well as to identify the best approaches to support and develop resources to help berry growers. Your responses to this brief survey will provide Cornell and the NYSBGA with critical information that will allow us to to obtain more funding from the state for research and extension efforts. We need input from all berry growers, regardless of berry type or size of plantings.

Click here to take part in this important survey.  

Controls for SWD, Summer Beetles, and Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs

We’re experience a period of high insect activity this year, with rain, warm days, and cool nights providing an ideal breeding ground for three challenging pests: spotted wing drosophila (SWD), whose numbers began to explode in mid-July, summer beetles (especially Japanese beetles), and brown marmorated stink bug. Senior Extension Associate and entomologist Peter Jentsch of Cornell University’s Hudson Valley Laboratory recommends the following controls.  

 

Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD)

Spotted wing drosophila on raspberry. Photo by Hannah Burrack, North Carolina State University, Bugwood.org.

Spotted wing drosophila on raspberry. Photo by Hannah Burrack, North Carolina State University, Bugwood.org.

With raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, blueberry, and sweet and tart cherry all very susceptible to SWD, good management is a must. Follow these general rules:

  • Traps are the best method for monitoring the population. Jentsch recommends making traps out of red plastic 16-ounce Solo cups and lids; get the directions here. Hang several traps in each crop.
  • Sample fruit for infestation. Choose unripened fruit and look for evidence of egg laying and larval feeding: small holes with tiny white breathing tubes. When the berry is gently squeezed, it may leak juice. Infested berries may also leave a juice stain on their container when picked.
  • Apply insecticide treatments from this Cornell-approved chart no more than seven days apart in blueberry, and every three to four days in cherry, raspberry, and blueberry. Reapply after rains. Rotate according to mode of action.
  • Chill berries immediately after harvest—at 32 to 33 degrees F—to halt the development of larvae and eggs.

 

Japanese Beetles and Other Summer Beetles

Japanese beetle. Photo by USDA ARS Photo Unit, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org.

Japanese beetle. Photo by USDA ARS Photo Unit, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org.

Japanese beetles are considered one of the most devastating pests for 300 species of plant in this region of the country. Multicolored Asian ladybird beetle (MALB), the rose chafer (RC), adult plum curculio (PC) are also prevalent in the Northeast. Prevent them from feeding on foliage with:

  • Carbaryl or Sevin, as a liquid XLR Plus, 4F or 80S powder.
  • Leverage 2.7SE. According to Jentsch, this “should be reserved for those situations when the pest complex to be treated is appropriately matched to the combination of active ingredients and modes of action contained in the product.”
  • Japanese beetle bag traps. These inexpensive traps, which use pheromones and floral scents, are very effective in luring and killing Japanese beetles. However, when placed near crops, they can encourage a large number of insects to move into the crop, causing even more damage. Jentsch warns, “If they are used, place the bags a considerable distance away from your orchard or vineyard so as to reduce the population in your crop. They will fill quickly and need to be emptied frequently.”

 

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Brown marmorated stink bug. Photo by Kristie Graham, USDA ARS, Bugwood.org.

Brown marmorated stink bug. Photo by Kristie Graham, USDA ARS, Bugwood.org.

A year-round pest, the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is a household nuisance in winter and spring and a serious agricultural pest in summer and fall. It has been observed feeding and reproducing in blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and caneberries. BMSB causes discoloration and sunken areas of green fruits at the feeding site, and softening and necrosis in mature fruits. Control them with:

  • Pyramid traps baited with BMSB aggregation pheromone and methyl decatrienoate. Because BMSB prefers to live along the perimeter of a field, place traps is along a forested edge adjacent to your crops.
  • Employ border sprays, according to this chart, especially on large fields. Because the insecticides that are most effective on BMSB also kills the insect’s natural enemies, use them only as needed. As the BMSB SCRI CAP Small Fruit Commodity Team cautions, “Management for BMSB in small fruit crops is difficult because the most effective insecticides for BMSB cannot be used during the period when there are repeated harvests of berry fields. Chemical control may be further complicated by the need to conserve insecticides for use against spotted wing drosophila, another disruptive invasive species, during the harvest period in order to observe requirements for maximum applications per season.”

For further reading, visit the Jentsch Lab blog:

Spotted Wing Drosophila

Summer Beetle Management

Using Attract and Kill Stations to Monitor Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

 

Free Guide on Managing SWD in Organic Berry Crops

nys-berry-growers-how-to-manage-swd.jpg

If you’ve been growing berries for more than a couple of years, you’re no doubt aware that good growing and sanitation practices—such as keeping an open canopy, weeding regularly, rotating insecticides, harvesting frequently, and removing overripe fruit—are key to success in managing spotted wing drosophila (SWD). But maybe you’re not exactly sure just what makes this invasive pest tick, and how to educate staff about it. To help growers better understand and combat the threat posed by SWD, a national team of researchers led by the University of Georgia, and funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agricultural Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), has put together a new guide to organic management of SWD, Management Recommendations for SWD in Organic Berry Crops.

 

Starting with details on how SWD builds populations, the guide covers pest identification and monitoring, preventive strategies like pruning and exclusion netting, sanitation, and IPM, including biological and chemical controls. The eight-page guide also features a handy summary of management techniques, which you can print out and post for staff on your farm.  

 

Download a PDF of the guide for free today.

A Dozen Reasons Why the EWG “Dirty Dozen” List Is Not an Ethical Guide for Produce Selection

new-york-state-berry-growers-why-dirty-dozen-list-is-misleading-strawberries

By Marvin Pritts, horticulture professor, Cornell University

 

Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out a list of “dirty” fruits and vegetables that consumers are supposed to avoid because they contain pesticide residues. For the third year in a row, strawberries were number one on the list. The list is misleading, having been created without consideration of several important scientific and social/cultural issues, but its popularity with the press forces growers to struggle with educating customers who have bought into the EWG’s misleading messaging.

Here are some talking points to share with customers to explain why the EWG’s “dirty dozen” list shouldn’t be used to guide their produce selection.

  1. Data used by the EWG counts the presence/absence of a residue, but does not consider the total amount of residue. This is not a valid method of assessing risk, since the amount of a residue is critical for determining if that residue is toxic.
  2. Pesticide residues in plants are miniscule and are not know to have any health effects in mammals, whether the mammal is a baby or a sensitive adult. Nearly all fruits and vegetables have levels far below (often a million times lower) levels known to cause physiological effects in humans. Just because a residue exists does not mean it is toxic at such low levels.
  3. Growers who rotate pesticides to reduce the risk of developing pesticide resistance will score more poorly on the EWG scale than growers who use large amounts of a single pesticide to control a pest.
  4. Residue data from crops vary greatly depending on where a crop is grown. For example, strawberries grown in the warm, wet climate of Florida receive far more pesticide applications than strawberries grown in the Northeast, yet strawberries are ranked number one for residues, regardless of how and where they are grown. This creates a major disadvantage for local growers.
  5. Plants produce natural pesticides so they don’t get eaten by pests. The amount of naturally produced pesticides is estimated to exceed human-applied residues by ten-thousandfold. The amount of synthetic pesticide residue is dwarfed by the amount of naturally occurring pest-deterring chemicals already present in plants.
  6. Plants not treated to manage pests often have higher levels of natural pesticides.
  7. Human systems have developed mechanisms to detoxify naturally occurring chemicals in the food we eat. These detoxification mechanisms work on both natural and synthetic chemicals, keeping us safe as long as these detoxification mechanisms are not overwhelmed.                    
  8. Organically grown food also may contain pesticide residues. Organic growers face the same insect, fungal, and weed pests as conventional growers, so they often will use chemical sprays to manage them. Neither the organic residues nor the synthetic residues have ever been shown to be harmful to humans.
  9. The health benefits of eating a strawberry—ranked number one on the “dirty dozen” list—far exceed any detriment from consuming a pesticide residue. For example, strawberries have more vitamin C than oranges by weight and are high in antioxidants and nutrients.
  10. The EWG list discourages consumers from eating healthy fruits and vegetables such as spinach, tomatoes, grapes, and apples, which also rank high on the list and are known to be extremely good for health.
  11. Consumers already eat far fewer fruits and vegetables than are recommended for good health. This is especially true for low-income populations. The EWG list can do harm to low-income groups by discouraging good eating habits.
  12. The EWG approach to ranking risk is not supported by any scientific organization, has never undergone peer-review, and has never been published in a scientific journal. Recommendations regarding a person’s ability to reduce pesticide-residue exposure by altering eating habits are not supported by the data

How to Develop an E-mail Program for Your Farm

new-york-berry-growers-marketing-email-farm-stores.jpg

While it may seem tempting to let go of your e-mail marketing in favor of social media, especially during the busy growing season, there are several compelling reasons why you’ll want to stay on top of your e-mail list, and keep promoting your farm or farm store.

1. Most customers, including 71% of millennials, prefer to hear from businesses they follow through e-mail first. True, you’ll often hear people say they get too many e-mails, but studies have proven time and again that this doesn’t dissuade them from staying on their favorite business’s e-mail list. And with many social media channels—Facebook being the most prominent example—modifying their algorithms to make it harder for a business’s content to be seen in the news feed, you’ll get much more visibility from e-mail.

2. E-mail subscribers are your most loyal customers, and are several times more likely to spread good word of mouth to friends, family, and their community.

3. E-mail is “owned” media, which means you have complete access to your entire e-mail list at all times, and can put out any content you think will inform and entertain your audience. There are best practices for e-mail content, but on the whole, this offers much more freedom for you to tell the stories you want to tell—without being filtered out by a pesky algortithm.

4. E-mail provides the highest return on investment (ROI) of all types of digital marketing—104% compared to social media’s 25% and display advertising’s 13%. If the other three points didn’t convince you that keeping up with your e-mail list is important, this is one super-persuasive case.

E-mail marketing generally takes one of two forms: a promotional e-mail or a newsletter. Promotional e-mails usually highlight a specific product or service and are meant to inspire the customer to take quick action: buy a product, register for an event, or create an account, for example.

E-mail newsletters are informative in nature, and give customers something interesting or entertaining to read, such as gardening or cooking tips, or links to articles about the health benefits of berries. They may link to a product for sale, but their focus is on informing rather than selling.

It’s possible to send both newsletters and promotional e-mails to the same list of subscribers, though you’ll want to determine in advance how many of each you plan to send, to keep the best balance. You can also employ segmenting, or sending certain content to one group of customers.

 

How to Create a Marketing E-mail

Depending on your list size, the number of times per month you plan to mail, and the amount of bells and whistles you want, there are a variety of e-mail distribution services that fit the bill. Mailchimp and Robly tend to be the most user-friendly, and have a larger selection of attractive drag-and-drop templates that make it easy to design great-looking e-mails. Constant Contact, one of the original e-mail distributors, has a long history of consistency, but is not as intuitive to use and often has a less modern look.

No matter which one you choose, if you have fewer than 200 subscribers, you can start with a free version of the service. It takes only a few minutes to create and account and get started on creating your first e-mail. If you'd like to walk through the process on screen, YouTube has dozens of short videos dedicated to setting up an e-mail in Mailchimp or Robly.

 

What Should Each E-mail Include?

There are a lot of nuances to e-mail marketing, but in general, each e-mail you send should have:

  • Your contact information
  • Your logo
  • Links to your social media

If you’re sending a newsletter, try including a brief article on a relevant topic, and 2 or 3 additional items you’d like to highlight—these could be products that are currently in stock in your store, a list of upcoming farmers’ market appearances, or a link to something interesting that’s happening in your community.

If you’re sending a promotional e-mail, focus on one item (e.g., strawberries) or one category of items (e.g., small fruits). Instead of simply selling the item itself, however, provide interesting related content that uses your product—for instance, a recipe for a summer cocktail that includes strawberries, or tips on how to freeze your bounty of U-pick strawberries. Don’t forget to mention that the item is in stock, and the hours when customers can buy it.

 

How Long Should a Marketing E-mail Be?

Considering that you have about 8 seconds to catch a reader’s attention, short and sweet is a good basic rule! Stick to 300 words or less for a featured newsletter article, and 100 words or less for secondary articles. Whenever possible, break up longer passages of text with visual elements such as bulleted or numbered lists, or boldface run-in heads, like the ones at the beginning of this post.  

 

How Often Should You Send a Marketing E-mail?

Because most of your sales happen during a condensed period of time, it’s best to send e-mails to your customers weekly during the growing season, to keep them updated on what they can buy from you and where they can find you.

You can easily cut back during the slower seasons: consider biweekly mailings during the ramping-up period in spring, when you have just a handful of products in stock, and monthly e-mails during the off season. Yes, you should definitely keep sending e-mails even during the off season! Customers won’t expect you to have products in inventory, but they will appreciate hearing from you on topics like winterizing your home garden, how to incorporate different foods into holiday menus, and what’s going on at your farm—whether that’s a new barn being raised, a picturesque snowfall, or your livestock or pet mascots frolicking outdoors.

It’s okay to make these e-mails shorter; the point isn’t to write New Yorker-length features about farming, but to keep your farm top of mind for customers, and to cultivate the image that you’re a resource for more than just a pint of berries. The attention to serving your customers will pay off with increased customer loyalty and sales.

 

Sending marketing e-mails or newsletters isn’t as hard as it might seem, and it’s one of the best ways to keep in regular contact with customers and encourage them to spread the word about your farm to friends. Spend a little time up front on planning, and you’ll reap the rewards later.

Got a question about e-mail marketing? If you’re a current member, get in touch with our communications manager, Robin Catalano, at nysbga@gmail.com.

 

Looking to Boost Exposure for Your Farm? Try Taste NY

Taste NY.jpg

With the growing season on the horizon, now is the time to look into opportunities to showcase your fruit outside the confines of your farm or typical farmers’ market appearances. Eighteen Taste NY market locations at service areas on the New York State Thruway will soon be open to visitors, and offer potential exposure to more than 200 million travelers who might not otherwise be able to try your products. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office reports that sales of food products at Taste NY markets topped $13 million in 2017.

On the value of participating Taste NY, State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball says, “Taste NY farmers’ markets give our regional Thruway Service Areas a unique flavor and provide our farmers with a great opportunity to connect directly with new consumers. I encourage New York’s producers to consider participating this upcoming season and give travelers a chance to taste our agricultural products that are among the best in the world.”

View a list of participating service areas. To learn more about selling your fruit through Taste NY markets, e-mail TravelersServices@thruway.ny.gov.

About Taste NY

The Taste NY initiative has seen steady growth and recognition since it was created in 2013 by Governor Cuomo. The program reported sales of $1.5 million in 2014, tripled those figures to $4.5 million in 2015, and $13.1 million in 2016. Taste NY, which is overseen by the Department of Agriculture and Markets, has created opportunities for local producers to showcase their goods at a variety of venues throughout the State and at large public events, such as the Great New York State Fair and the Barclays Tournament at Bethpage State Park. It has also helped the farms and companies participating in the program to reach more customers, increase online sales, and, in many cases, expand the processing capacity of their business. Taste NY’s food and beverage businesses also support the State’s farmers by using New York grown and produced ingredients in their products.

Today, New York products sold under Taste NY branding are available in more than 70 locations throughout the State as well as the New York State Office of Trade and Tourism in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

For more information about Taste NY, visit www.taste.ny.gov. Connect with Taste NY through FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

 

 

Getting Ready for the Season and H-2A Applications

new-york-state-berry-growers-tips-for-h2a-application.jpg

With a huge increase in applications to the H-2A guestworker program over the past few years an average processing time of 90 days, it’s critical for growers to submit their paperwork as early as possible, to avoid some of the delays we experienced last year in getting workers onto our farms. If you haven’t gotten started on your applications yet, now is the time to get moving. Here are some good guidelines to remember:

Review your farm’s work activities and rules, including related disciplinary policies (e.g., verbal warning, written warning, termination). Write them down; you’ll need them for your H-2A contract.

Create job descriptions for your H-2A workers. Be specific about the type of work and the physical requirements (e.g., bending, lifting, climbing a ladder, driving). Remember that, by law, your H-2A hires area allowed to work on only those tasks.

Determine whether you prefer to apply directly to the program, with or without the assistance of an agent, or hire a contractor to handle it. If you choose a contractor, clarify all responsibilities and fees up front, ask about compliance processes, and request references of previous customers, so you can make sure your money will be well spent.

Confirm that you can secure appropriate housing, including cooking facilities, if meals won’t be provided.

Create a plan for worker transportation, both to and from your farm at the start and end of the season, as well as daily transportation from worker housing to your farm and weekly trips to the grocery store. If you’re using your own van or car, make sure it’s up-to-date on maintenance and repairs.

For more considerations on the benefits and drawbacks of the H-2A guestworker program, read this overview from our neighbors at Community Involved in Supporting Agriculture.

And don’t start this season without checking out this downloadable PDF from Texas A&M on the difference between an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) audit and a raid, and how you can be prepared for either.

New Fruit and Vegetable Conference Is Coming to Albany!

2018 Cornell CCE Eastern NY Fruit and Vegetable Conference.png

The Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program (ENYCHP), a regional program of Cornell Cooperative Extension, is excited to announce its first-ever Eastern New York Fruit and Vegetable Conference, February 20 and 21, 2018 at the Desmond Conference Center in Albany. The event features two days of programing on tree fruit, vegetable, and berry production, as well as agricultural business management.

Commercial growers won’t want to miss sessions on the most important issues impacting the industry in Eastern New York. Highlights include:

For apple growersdisease management updates, presentations on fire blight management, current rootstock technologies, and a look at new varieties from the Cornell Apple Breeding Program. 

For berry growersintegrating low tunnels into day neutral strawberry production, spotted wing drosophila (SWD) control, and soil management.

For vegetable growersnew tools for bird control, utilizing biocontrols, managing sweet corn pests, and precision water and nutrient systems. 

For business managersresources for farmers with a Latino workforce, media relations on the farm, and CSAs in Eastern New York.

This is just a sampling of the topics that will be covered over the two-day conference. A large industry trade show will also take place throughout the event. All commercial growers are invited to attend, from beginning farmers, to farming veterans, organic farmers, and commercial growers! DEC credits will be available. 

For the full agenda and registration information, visit the ENYCHP. 

Preregister by February 13 for a discounted rate!