By Michelle Podolec
The Lake Erie Regional Grape Program (LERGP), is a joint program of Cornell and Penn State University., The LERGP Extension Team spent the final months of 2020 developing a vineyard planning calendar for growers. The printed calendar is a portable data management tool, providing useful resources including contact information, a history of the Lake Erie Grape Industry and the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program, and tips for vineyard management. Each month features a beautiful vineyard photo, calendar reminders, an area for notes and interesting historical data.
I interviewed LERGP team leader Jennifer Russo about what prompted the team to develop this new resource.
Why did you create the vineyard planning calendar, and who was responsible for helping to develop it?
“We have our advisory committee that we work with that has growers and industry stakeholders,” says Jennifer Phillips Russo. “They let us know what they are looking for, and how we should direct our research.”
In their weekly YouTube podcast, LERGP team members stress the need for growers to record timely vineyard data. The vineyard planning calendar provides an additional tool that allows growers to easily record their own observations. Tracking data is important to understanding seasonal patterns. “We always tell [the growers] that they need to keep records of their own vineyards,” recommends Jennifer Phillips Russo “Here, it’s all in one spot.”
This calendar was a LERGP Extension Team effort and also includes contributions and support from: Dr. Terry Bates, director of the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Lab; Dr. Justine Vanden Heuvel from Cornell University; Bryan Hed from Penn State’s Lake Erie Regional Grape Research and Extension Center; the CCE of Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Niagara Counties, and Penn State Extension – Erie County; the Network for Environment and Weather Applications (NEWA); and Cornell University and Penn State University,. The project was funded using monies that would have normally been used for the annual winter grower’s conference, which did not take place this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is the most important/exciting feature/item you would like people to know about?
The calendar includes a QR code that will direct individuals to a webpage on the LERGP site to access more in-depth reference materials. The team hopes the additional information will help growers make connections between monthly topics featured in the calendar and timely webinars and discussions hosted by LERGP.
The calendar also provides information from the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program Electronic Crop Update, and monthly newsletter Vineyard Notes. The team is already looking for ways to improve the calendar, and will be collecting feedback throughout this year.
What is the cost of this item? How can people get a copy, and will this calendar be available next year?
The calendar was provided at no cost to LERGP members this year. Additional copies may be requested from the LERGP for $25 per calendar plus shipping and handling. The team would like to be able to provide the calendar for free to members/growers again for next year.
Michelle Podolec is extension support specialist with the statewide viticulture extension program, based at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, NY.