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Popular berry-growing conference expands to two-day event at VSU

vsu college of agricultureThere’s an art to growing berries, and the best place to cultivate knowledge on how to produce this potentially lucrative specialty crop is at the Virginia Berry School.

The two-day school will be held March 12-13 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Virginia State University’s Randolph Farm Pavilion at 4415 River Road, Petersburg. It is sponsored by the Virginia Cooperative Extension. and the Small Farm Program and Outreach (SFPO) at Virginia State University.

“We’ve been conducting berry production conferences for more than 10 years, as interest in the berry industry in Virginia continues to grow and markets expand,” said Dr. Reza Rafie, horticulture Cooperative Extension specialist at VSU. “We changed the format this year because we felt we needed to give our growers a chance to learn more in depth with hands-on experience on how to be successful in growing berries. In fact, if you participate, you will be able to prune a blackberry and/or a blueberry plant.”

Experienced and beginning Virginia berry growers can learn the latest research and information about starting a berry enterprise and production management of blueberry and blackberry crops.

Registration is $50 per person and includes lunch both days. To register, visit, click on the event and then click on the registration link. Discounted hotel rooms are available for attendees through Feb. 21 for a rate of $96 per night.

“The berry industry continues to grow and be very dynamic,” Rafie said. “Growing berries can be profitable, and good market opportunities exist for growers who are thinking about expanding or starting to grow berry crops.” However, growing berries is labor-intensive and having knowledge and a sustainable management plan can reduce risks considerably, he added.

Berry experts will teach classroom sessions and hands-on demonstrations on how to successfully grow berries in Virginia, including soil preparation, planting, selecting suitable varieties, pruning, pest and disease management, harvesting, post-harvesting and marketing.

If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Mark Klingman ( or call (804) 524-5960 / TDD (800) 828-1120 during business hours of 8 am. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.

augusta free press
augusta free press