Enrollment now open for OSU's grape management course
Some Oklahomans have been growing grapes for several years, and this relatively new agricultural option continues to grow in popularity.
In an effort to familiarize current and potential grape growers with vital information of what it takes to be a successful grape producer, Oklahoma State University will be offering a grape management course, said Becky Carroll, OSU Cooperative Extension fruit and nut crop assistant specialist.
The course will meet one Thursday per month beginning Feb. 28 and run through Sept 12. Classes will take place at the Cimarron Valley Research Station near Perkins. Each class will meet from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The class does not meet in March.
Registration is $250 per person and the course is limited to 70 participants. Preregistration is required and is due by Feb. 15. Registration information can be found online at http://orangehub.okstate.edu/usstores/web/index.jsp. Click on the Horticulture/Landscape store, and then select "Short Courses and Schools." Click on "2013 Oklahoma Grape Management." For additional information, contact Stephanie Larimer at 405-744-5404 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Interest in growing grapes continues to increase across the state. We've offered the grape course since 2001, with more than 650 people going through it, and it continues to be successful," Carroll said.
The course is designed to cover all aspects of the grape growing industry and is geared toward those who have just established their vineyard, as well as those who are still in the planning stage or those who simply want more information.
"This course definitely has something for everyone, from those who have been growing grapes for a while, to those who are just getting started," she said.
The course is designed so that participants will experience both the classroom learning environment in addition to hands-on experiences during each class. The hands-on lessons will take place in the demonstration vineyard at the Cimarron Valley Research Station.
Carroll said each class will cover a variety of topics such as vineyard establishment, pruning and training, site selection, soils/water, insect and disease management, weed control, economics, fertilization, propagation, rootstocks, canopy management, harvest preparation and petiole sampling.
"We'll also be covering important topics such as budgeting, risks and the commitment required to establish a prosperous business," she said.
Each meeting correlates time wise with what is actually happening in grape production. For example, the first meeting will encompass information about the dormant vine stage, which is what happens in February.
There are a number of industry professionals, as well as OSU experts, who will be on hand during each of the classes to share their expertise and research-based information.
Carroll said the Department of Commerce gave a grant to help with speaker costs, updating equipment and maintaining the vineyard at the Cimarron Valley Research Station.
"This year we'll be using some of those funds to establish three rows with three different types of trellises," she said. "The class will have the opportunity to help with installation and planting of new hybrid and vinifera type grapes. The grant also will help offset the cost of soil, water and petiole samples for each class member."
Because of the growth in the grape industry in Oklahoma, Carroll said OSU researchers believe the industry will continue to have a significant impact on the state's economy, as well as provide those who are interested with another agricultural outlet.