Dr. Aaron Cato, IPM Specialist, University of Arkansas

The Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium is an expansive source for unbiased information and news for small fruit growers and county agents across the Southeast. The consortium’s website features production and IPM guides that are updated yearly by specialists across the region, webinars relating to a plethora of topics in small fruit, and agent training modules. The consortium continues to expand its catalogue of information by funding diverse types of extension efforts, including a new podcast called “The Southern Fruitcast”.

Southern Fruitcast

The Southern Fruitcast aims to provide a source of up-to-date information for small fruit growers and extension agents in an easy to access format when they don’t have time to read newsletters and blog posts or watch videos.

The Southern Fruitcast is hosted by Drs. Aaron Cato and Amanda McWhirt, extension IPM and production specialists for fruits and vegetables at the University of Arkansas. This podcast aims to cover the people, technology and latest developments in small fruit production in the Southeast. Topics pertinent to small fruits in the Southeast are covered each episode by interviewing extension specialists, small fruit growers, or industry representatives to provide relevant information on specific topics. Three episodes have been recorded so far, and information about each will be shared below.

Podcast episodes are featured on the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension website at www.uaex.edu/southernfruitcast, where you can listen to the episodes and give input on topics you would like covered or how the podcast can best serve you.

Episode 1 – Blackberries with Dr. John Clark

Episode 1 features an interview with Dr. John Clark, University of Arkansas fruit breeder and distinguished professor. John stops by to discuss commercial blackberry production and breeding efforts in the Southeast, give us some insight on his new releases, Caddo and Ponca, and add some perspective on the national market and new technologies. At the end he shares his guitar strumming talents and gives us a taste of his latest musical release.

Episode 2 – Grape Disease Management with Dr. Phillip Brannen

Episode 2 features an interview with Dr. Phillip Brannen, extension fruit disease specialist at the University of Georgia, who discusses factors that influence disease management in Southeast vineyards. Phil provides excellent insight into problems plaguing Southeast grape and muscadine production and discusses a variety of solutions that growers can take advantage of to maximize their success and profitability.

Episode 3 – Strawberries and Blackberries with Dr. Gina Fernandez

Episode 3 features an interview with Dr. Gina Fernandez, Professor of Horticulture and strawberry, blackberry, and raspberry breeder at North Carolina State University. Gina came on the podcast to discuss her new strawberry releases, Rocco and Liz, and how they fit in with current commercial cultivars. She also discussed her breeding efforts towards anthracnose resistance, as well as NC State’s new blackberry cultivar, Von.