NCCC212: Small Fruit and Viticulture Research

(Multistate Research Coordinating Committee and Information Exchange Group)

Status: Active

NCCC212: Small Fruit and Viticulture Research

Duration: 10/01/2021 to 09/30/2026

Administrative Advisor(s):


NIFA Reps:


Statement of Issues and Justification

Nature and significance of issues for which multistate coordination is proposed: Production of small fruits contributes significantly to statewide, regional, and national economies. Strawberry, blueberry (cultivated and wild), raspberry, blackberry, cranberry, and grape growers alone contributed an average of $10.4 billion/year in terms of value of utilized production from 2017 to 2019 (USDA NASS, 2020). The growers that produce these horticulturally important crops are diverse and distributed across the nation. They range from small-scale growers that contribute to local markets to large operations that provide fruit for national and international fresh and processed markets. Researchers and scientists with extension capacity can be limited in these states, with some states having one-to-no researchers to address small fruit research and outreach needs. Coordinated research projects that address emerging threats and advance new technologies are important to facilitate rapid learning and information sharing to states with varying capacity to conduct research. As such, there is a need for the small fruit community to have a venue that would allow for coordination and collaboration among small fruit researchers. NCCC-212 has provided this important venue and this renewal seeks to allow for NCCC-212 to continue coordinating research and outreach efforts. Furthermore, NCCC-212 has provided a valuable network that has allowed small fruit researchers to build successful teams for federal granting agencies that require multi -state, -institutional, and -disciplinary approaches.

How proposed activity addresses national and/or regional priorities: Key priorities for small fruit growers and the associated research community include: 1) breeding and releasing superior, adapted cultivars; 2) the development of sustainable, alternative production techniques that allow for the efficient and economic production of small fruits; 3) production of novel fruits for niche markets; 4) horticultural techniques that improve berry quality and/or shelf life; and 5) identification and management of commodity-specific pests and diseases. Collaboration and coordination provided by NCCC-212 allows small fruit researchers to: 1) share, evaluate, and exchange breeding material in a systematic way in various environments that allows for meaningful data collection; 2) share findings and techniques regarding new and more efficient productions systems and tools for important cultivars and/or horticultural challenges; and 3) discuss research ideas and plans to avoid duplication and inefficient use of resources.  Furthermore, coordination and communication fosters collaboration that allows for multi -state, -institutional, and -disciplinary collaboration to address important and/or emerging threats to sustainable production.

Stakeholders: Our primary stakeholders include small fruit (including grape) growers.

Objectives

  1. Develop small fruit germplasm through cooperative breeding and evaluation programs.
  2. Develop practices for small fruit production tailored for climatic and market needs of growers.
  3. Evaluate pre- and postharvest fruit quality components, including enhanced flavor, texture/firmness, shelf life, and phytonutrients.
  4. Identify opportunities and collaborate on the development of extension resources for multistate, regional, national, and/or international audiences.

Procedures and Activities

  • Objective 1. Develop small fruit germplasm for specific needs such as tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses, season extension, organic production, increased storage life, increased flavor, and improved horticultural traits through cooperative breeding and evaluation programs. Efforts will be fostered by the exchange of germplasm and cooperative studies to evaluate productivity, adaptability, and fruit characteristics of strawberry, blueberry, table grape, blackberry and other species.
  • Objective 2. Develop new or modified practices for small fruit production. These include off-season production, protected cultivation, plasticulture, improved pruning and training systems, integrated pest management and other systems (such as organic or sustainable).
  • Objective 3. Evaluation of pre- and postharvest fruit quality components will be done in coordination with completion of Objectives 1 and 2, as these factors can be impacted by genetics and production practices across environments and are important considerations for farmers’ profitability. Additionally, explore how bioactive compounds in small fruit can be tailored for specific applications and enhanced flavor.
  • Objective 4. Time will be dedicated at annual meetings to identify opportunities to collaborate on and coordinate extension activities. This includes identifying topics and speakers for statewide, regional and national grower meetings, developing print and web- based publications and decision support tools on topics ranging from cultivar selection to improved management practices.

Expected Outcomes and Impacts

  • The expected outcome of Objective 1 will be release of new cultivars that result from inter-program germplasm exchange. Multistate and/or regional germplasm exchange and evaluation is an essential outcome of NCCC-212. Germplasm evaluation across multiple locations provides important information on the adaptability, strengths, and weaknesses of new selections and cultivars, which can hasten the movement of new plant material through the development pipeline and into the hands of both large- and small-scale growers across North America.
  • For Objective 2, new management practices and technologies are emerging that may be suitable to small fruit production across different production regions. Technologies or ideas generated from one state project can be tested in other locations where the technology may also have merit, enabling diffusion of innovations to other stakeholders and local adaptation of new technologies, as well as eliminating unnecessary duplication. Many NCCC-212 members also participate in the Small Fruit and Viticulture working group of the American Society for Horticultural Science, and the Southern Small Fruit Workers group, which helps further extend the influence of NCCC-212 activities.
  • As research related to Objectives 1 and 2 progress, questions arise as to how these developments influence post-harvest quality. For Objective 3, research efforts on post-harvest quality will be integrated into efforts on the development of cultivars and management practices.
  • For Objective 4, common industry, and/or outreach concerns will be identified. Teams will be formed to create solutions-oriented research and outreach projects to address these concerns that maximize the efficient use of resources while minimizing duplication. Outputs will be multistate extension products (e.g., fact sheets, production guides, grower conferences) that will more efficiently deliver new research findings to the end users.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Educational Plan

Most NCCC-212 members have an extension appointment, ensuring research results are disseminated via established university extension channels or other outreach platforms. National venues where NCCC-212 members share research information with the small fruit industry include (but are not limited to) annual meetings/conferences of the North American Blueberry Council, U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, North American Raspberry and Blackberry Association, North American Strawberry Growers Association, Southern Small Fruits Research Consortium, and Northwest Center for Small Fruit Research. Information is also shared at regional and statewide venues, such as the Great Lakes Fruit and Vegetable Expo, Washington Small Fruit Conference, Mid Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Show, and multiple state and local grower meetings. Information pertaining to our objectives is also shared by NCCC-212 scientists at field days, through program websites, publication of newsletter articles, and both print and online fact sheets and production guides. New information may also be utilized in undergraduate and graduate courses for training the next generation of small fruit growers, researchers, and other industry members.

Organization/Governance

Standard governance with annual nominations and election of the chair-elect through a simple majority.  

Literature Cited

USDA NASS. 2020. Noncitrus Fruits and Nuts 2019 Summary. 9 Nov. 2020. Available at:   

<https://downloads.usda.library.cornell.edu/usda-esmis/files/zs25x846c/0g3551329/qj72pt50f/ncit0520.pdf>

Attachments

Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

AL, AR, GA, ME, MI, MN, ND, NJ, UT, WI

Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

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