The meeting inaugurates the association for commercial blackberry growers, said Amanda McWhirt, Extension specialist for horticulture crops production.
“Overall we hope that the conference will help kick off the formation of the Arkansas Blackberry Growers Association and that longterm the association will help build grower networks and grow the Arkansas blackberry industry.”
Cost and deadlines
- Registration for the meeting costs $25 and includes lunch, two coffee breaks and handout materials.
- The deadline to register is Feb. 11.
The State Cooperative Extension Office is located at 2301 South University Ave. in Little Rock.
More information, including a schedule and registration, for the meeting can be found online: https://uaex.formstack.com/forms/blackberry_conference
McWhirt said a steering committee has been working for a year to guage interest in forming the Arkansas Blackberry Growers Association, holding informational meetings and identifying commercial growers as well as those who are interested in starting a blackberry farm. The meetings also helped identify leaders among blackberry growers who are interested in guiding the formation and growth of an association.
“The association steering committee would like to establish two meetings a year,” McWhirt said. “They’d like the winter meeting to be focused on educational programs.”
The Feb. 16 meeting will feature a range of state blackberry experts, a trade show and talks by Arkansas blackberry farmers, McWhirt said.
The program includes presentations on the history of blackberry production in Arkansas, the current industry and opportunities, disease and pest control, trellis systems, marketing opportunities and practices and much more, McWhirt said.
The program will also highlight successful blackberry operations and offer information on food safety issues, crop insurance and other important topics.
“We are looking forward to hosting several national company representatives from the blackberry industry, including Wish Farms and Agristarts,” McWhirt said. “The association is grateful for the sponsorship support from these companies and is looking forward to the opportunity for our growers to meet and interact with these industry personnel.”