NC State University

Website for blackberry, raspberry growers wins award

February 09, 2012

NC State News Center

KANNAPOLIS, NC – N.C. MarketReady, a program of N.C. State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute at the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis, received the Southern Region American Society for Horticultural Science Extension Blue Ribbon Communication Award for its Blackberry & Raspberry Growers Information Portal. The award was accepted by Dr. Penelope Perkins-Veazie, professor and postharvest physiologist with PHHI, at the ASHS Southern Region Conference in Birmingham, AL, February 6, 2012.

Entering its 25th year, the ASHS Extension Blue Ribbon Communication Award annually recognizes outstanding contributions to the understanding of horticultural subjects reported in written, video, audio and electronic form. The award was established to give those authors of Extension publications recognition among their peers and administrators.

“The committee awarded the Blackberry and Raspberry Growers Information Portal for its comprehensive information content – no doubt highly useful to the clientele – vivid color, ease of navigation and well-developed material content,” said Monte Nesbitt, chair of the ASHS Extension Blue Ribbon Awards Committee and Extension specialist at Texas A&M University.

The N.C. MarketReady communications team of Leah Chester-Davis, Justin Moore and Megan Bame, alongside Dr. Perkins-Veazie, Dr. Gina Fernandez, professor and Extension specialist with N.C. State University, developed the Blackberry & Raspberry Growers Information Portal to bring together as many resources as possible pertaining to business management and production of blackberries and raspberries in North Carolina. Fernandez has led the raspberry and blackberry breeding program at N.C. State since 2004, when Dr. Jim Ballington, the N.C. State professor who developed the breeding program, passed the program to her.

Launched in 2009, the website is a compilation of materials developed by multiple departments, programs and organizations associated with N.C. State University, as well as from other academic and agricultural sources. The N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission and the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center’s Agricultural Advancement Consortium funded the project with grants, which were coordinated by Dr. Blake Brown and Rod Gurganus of the N.C. MarketReady program.

Dr. Fernandez is developing new varieties of blackberries and raspberries as well as trying to strengthen existing varieties. She holds several training sessions for Extension agents and producer groups annually. She has also participated in many international educational efforts, including small fruit trials in Bolivia and Mexico and trainings for growers in Serbia and South Africa on tunnel production of raspberries.

Dr. Fernandez will co-host the 2015 International Rubus and Ribes Symposium with Dr. Perkins-Veazie in North Carolina.

Dr. Perkins-Veazie researches new strategies to prolong the shelf life of fresh produce (like blackberries and raspberries), considers food safety issues during postharvest handling and studies the effect of storage on health benefits. She works with breeders to ensure that the flavor component is not lost in the breeding process.

About N.C. State University Plants for Human Health Institute The N.C. State University Plants for Human Health Institute is part of the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis. Its Cooperative Extension outreach is known as N.C. MarketReady. The campus is a public-private venture including eight universities, the David H. Murdock Research Institute (DHMRI) and corporate entities that collaborate to advance the fields of nutrition and health.

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About Southern Region American Society for Horticultural Science The Southern Region ASHS is a regional scientific society of the American Society for Horticultural Science. The Southern Region encompasses the 14 southern states of Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. Membership varies over the years from about 300 to 500 active members. Membership is composed of research scientists, teachers and Extension specialists from Universities, State, Federal and private research organizations, and

Writer: Justin Moore

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