The Southern Region Small Fruits Consortium – a six-member group of land-grant universities including N.C. State – has received the 2012 Partnership Award for Multi-State Efforts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture. The award recognizes exemplary work impacting agriculture, environment, communities or people from a team at a land-grant university, cooperating institution or organization supported by the NIFA.
Dr. Powell Smith, one of the original team members from Clemson University, accepted the award in Washington, DC on behalf of all the SRSFC member states. The six land-grant member institutions are N.C. State University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Clemson University, University of Georgia, University of Tennessee and University of Arkansas.
The SRSFC boasts many accomplishments, including county Extension agent training; research and extension grants; website development and funding. Each member contributes $35,000 annually to the consortium, and three faculty members from each institution serve on a steering committee for SRSFC activities. Additionally, one small fruit grower representative from each of the member states serves on the SRSFC steering committee.
Since 2000, the SRSFC has conducted 22 county Extension agent trainings, involving more than 550 agents, related to all aspects of small fruit production in the southern region. More than $1 million in research and extension grants has been awarded to the members states since 2002. These grants (maximum award of $5,000) have leveraged more than $3 million dollars in larger grants. Results from SRSFC funded research and extension have saved growers millions of dollars in terms of pest management alternatives and production techniques.
N.C. State faculty members have been involved in the following SRSFC projects:
- Dr. Frank Louws and Dr. Mahfuzur Rahman (N.C. State, entomology) have received grants for research and extension efforts related to foliar / fruit rot on strawberries.
- Dr. Hannah Burrack (N.C. State, entomology), Dr. Doug Pfeiffer (Virginia Tech) and Dr. Powell Smith (Clemson) received grants to develop a volunteer monitoring network for spotted wing drosophila, a recent invasive pest of soft-skinned small fruits. The monitoring network allows growers to apply pesticides in a timely manner to minimize losses to this pest.
- Dr. Gina Fernandez, (N.C. State, horticultural science) and colleagues have received grants since 2002 to develop raspberry and blackberry breeding programs. The program developed the red raspberry, “Nantahala,” which has resulted in commercial fruit sales of $16,000-$27,000 per acre.
The SRSFC website has become the authoritative source of information for small fruit growers, Extension personnel and professionals, with more than 4,500 visits per day. For more information, visit the SRSFC website: www.smallfruits.org