This week the American Cranberry Growers Association once again held its annual winter meeting. The ACGA winter meeting is always a good opportunity for growers to listen to research findings from experiments during the previous growing season and the researchers’ recommendations for the 2021 growing season.
Usually it’s also a great chance for the local cranberry community to catch up to each other after the busy harvest season, but this week’s meeting, like so many over the past few months, needed to be held virtually. However, this also meant that in addition to our own researchers we were able to chat with Michelle Hogan from the Cranberry Marketing Committee (CMC) and Bill Frantz from the Cranberry Institute (CI) as well as researchers from other growing areas like Shawn Steffan from the University of Wisconsin.
Bill Haines, Bryan vonHahmann, and Mike Haines were the only three team members in attendance from Pine Island this time, as we wanted to keep some of our focus on sanding before we freeze up. “The format was tough, but that couldn’t be helped,” says Bryan. “Watching the presentations from the office was good as opposed to sitting in a meeting room. It was great to get updates on the various projects that are being worked on. And it also gave us a lot to discuss here on how we may experiment with our IPM and nutrition programs.” The main thing he missed, he said, was the lack of opportunity to talk to fellow growers.
“I thought that the presentations were well done and interesting and had a lot of substance,” Bill says. But like Bryan, he can’t wait to get back to in-person meetings. “The conversation between audience and presenter flows better in person, and you can speak with other growers on breaks to get their perspective and ideas.”
Mike Haines had a slightly different take: “I do miss seeing everyone in person; I always enjoy when all the NJ growers get together. But I gotta say I actually do like the Zoom meetings for learning purposes. It’s easier to take notes, and actually I find it easier for Q & A. I might be in the minority on that, I don’t know!” Like Bill and Bryan, he found all the talks very interesting. “Nick’s stuck out to me, because the proper nutrition of the Rutgers hybrids has been something I’ve really been working and focusing on. So that was good; I’ve had a lot of good conversations with Nick on that topic. Shawn Steffan’s presentation was really great too. They’re raising their own nematodes to use as a sort of biological insecticide. So cool! We’ve used some commercial nematodes before, but honestly I have no clue if they even worked or not. In this case, Shawn and his lab crew are raising nematodes native to that environment, so they’ve evolved to thrive there, I guess meaning they’ll be more effective. Even if we don’t end up messing around with anything like that, it was still so interesting to learn about. And that’s actually another benefit of Zoom meetings – a lot of barriers between regions have been knocked down. So we got to hear from Shawn in Wisconsin. And I’ve been able to attend various other Massachusetts and Wisconsin meetings this past year, since they’ve all been online. That’s been a really neat opportunity.”
All in all, it was another productive day for our Pine Island team as well another excellent program put together by Dr. Cesar Rodriguez-Saona. Thank you, Cesar!