2015 North American Raspberry & Blackberry Conference to be held in Fayetteville
- Annual conference has been held in various cities across the country
- University of Arkansas research considered a strong influence on blackberry production throughout the country
LITTLE ROCK -- Berry industry pros from around the country will be touring several University of Arkansas System horticultural research facilities this winter, as the 2015 North American Raspberry & Blackberry Conference convenes in Fayetteville Feb. 24-27.
Debby Wechsler, Executive Secretary for the North American Raspberry & Blackberry Association, said she is expecting more than 200 attendees to register for the conference, based on previous annual conferences held in other cities across the country.
Wechsler said members of the association’s planning committee selected Fayetteville as the location of this year’s conference in large part because of John Clark, a University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture horticulture researcher who also teaches at the University of Arkansas’ Bumpers College.
Although raspberries are not grown in Arkansas in any measurable quantity, and growers within the state only produce a few hundred acres of blackberries each year, Clark is credited with developing many of the most successful strains of blackberries grown throughout the southern United States, Wechsler said.
“John is extraordinarily entertaining, as well as thoughtful,” Wechsler said. “Arkansas is really on the map in the minds of the blackberry world. There are really good things coming out of Arkansas.”
Clark, who will lead a tour of the Division of Agriculture’s Fruit Research Station on the first day of the conference, said he will also chair a discussion of contemporary berry breeding research. Numerous other University of Arkansas System of Division of Agriculture faculty will deliver presentations on topics including blackberry production practices, viruses, budgeting and marketing, consumer preferences and health benefits.
Clark said that about half of all Arkansas blackberry production is done on a very small scale for local retail and consumption.
“There’s two acres here, four acres there,” he said. “Blackberries are very important in local markets across the state, and can provide very good returns to growers.”
The conference will also feature tours of the university’s Food Sciences Lab and Research Farm and the Institute for Nanoscience and Engineering in Fayetteville, as well as educational sessions and workshops.
Growers, researchers and marketers — as well as anyone interested in learning more about raspberry and blackberry farming — ca register online or download the conference brochure at www.raspberryblackberry.com. Group rates of $109 per night will be available for conference attendees at the Chancellor Hotel in downtown Fayetteville. Reservations can be made by calling 479-442-5555. The group discount rate is guaranteed through Feb. 1.
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
By Ryan McGeeney
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service