Blackberry school offers growers a chance to step up their growing, marketing game
By Ryan McGeeney
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Jan. 26, 2017
- Four courses throughout the year
- Each class combines classroom instruction with outdoor field activities
- To register, visit https://forms.uaex.edu/registrations/hort/hort.asp
- Download flyer
CLARKSVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas fruit growers will have the opportunity to brush up their skills on the cultivation, harvesting and marketing of blackberries in 2017 through a series of four hands-on classes offered by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
Jackie Lee, extension horticulturist for the Division of Agriculture, said the plan to create a blackberry curriculum was spurred by the high rate of questions she and other horticulture experts had received in recent years directly related to blackberries.
“Many farmers have shown interest in planting blackberries, along with others just starting out,” Lee said. “We have the world’s leading blackberry breeding program, but we do not have a lot of commercial blackberry production.”
Lee estimated only about 200-300 acres of blackberries are currently planted in Arkansas. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2.72 million pounds of blackberries were produced nationwide in 2015, most of them in Oregon. Production was valued at nearly $33 million.
German market research group AMI noted that global consumer demand for berries is accelerating, with health claims driving growth in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. (see: http://www.fruitnet.com/eurofruit/article/167909/blackberries-push-berry-growth-higher)
“There is so much room for growth,” she said. “Blackberries grow extremely well in our state. and we have a great support system in place to help growers with production issues that may arise. The blackberry school is a great way to take advantage of our educational programming to learn more about blackberry production practices in Arkansas.”
There are currently four blackberry school dates planned, one for each season in the coming year:
- Winter session: Feb. 9
- Spring: April 18
- Summer: June 13
- Fall: To be determined
Lee said each class will begin at 1 p.m. with classroom instruction and discussion, and later move outdoors for hands-on field work. Each class will present different classroom topics and field activities appropriate to the season.
Registration is $40 for all four classes. To register, go to https://forms.uaex.edu/registrations/hort/hort.asp.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture 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 Jackie Lee at (501) 671-2191 as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.
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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service