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Offering Alternatives to Tobacco Production: Grapes, Vegetables and Cut Flowers Ben Beale Extension Educator St. Marys Co. Maryland

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Presentation on theme: "Offering Alternatives to Tobacco Production: Grapes, Vegetables and Cut Flowers Ben Beale Extension Educator St. Marys Co. Maryland"— Presentation transcript:

1 Offering Alternatives to Tobacco Production: Grapes, Vegetables and Cut Flowers Ben Beale Extension Educator St. Marys Co. Maryland


3 Tobacco in the Last 30 years

4 Maryland Tobacco Buyout $1 per lb based on average production over a 10 year period. Agreement never to raise tobacco again Requirement to remain in agriculture production Does not involve any quota system. Buyout administered through the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission

5 Maryland Tobacco Buyout: Results 86% of eligible Maryland producers exited the tobacco industry. This equates to approximately 800 growers. Remaining growers have switched to Burley production under contract Production of tobacco has stabilized at about 1 million pounds

6 Introduction to the Presenter

7 1953

8 1982

9 1992 In 1997, the median farm size was 62 acres which generated an average farm gross income of $33,906. In St. Marys County, 98% of all farms generated less than $250,000.





14 Summary: In the last 10 years, Southern Maryland has undergone rapid and un-precedented change. Local non-farm Environment: Rapid population growth, escalation of land values, influx of new cultures not familiar to farms, expansion of Naval base Farm Environment: Rapid change in tobacco industry as result of tobacco buyout, Consolidation in other commodities

15 Extensions Role: –Cooperative Extension is looked to provide opportunities/ alternatives for producers. –Assist growers with both: Production Marketing –Potential Roles: Education regarding new crop opportunities Research on new crop opportunities Crop budgets and marketing and feasibility plans Assist growers evaluate new enterprises

16 Fresh Market Vegetables A popular choice readily accepted by growers –Marketing and production system are complex and unforgiving.

17 Meeting Production Needs –Expand on existing framework –Held an annual vegetable conference with area specialist and agents –Twilight Tours to area farms –Developed informational booth with relevant production manuals and fact sheets. –Distributed production manuals at convenient locations. Included books as part of registration at vegetable conference. –Organized tours to various field days

18 Quality and Consistency: Getting things in the right place!


20 Tomato Fruit Disorders


22 Meeting Marketing Needs Reinforce the notion that producers must have a home for the product before they grow it. Networked with growers and Agricultural Commission to set up Round-Table Talks with area wholesale food companies or distributors. Worked with local farmers to develop a wholesale produce marketing auction. Developed Enterprise Budgets for local area.




26 Loveville Produce Auction 60 growers, many new to vegetable farming 600 buyers 2nd year sales over $1 million






32 Cut Flowers

33 Meeting Production Needs New crop for the area with many unknown production variables Set up grower trials for varieties in specific areas. Simplify pesticide recommendations and provide information on crop use and labeling requirements Network growers with other areas, Conducted cut flower conferences and twilight tours








41 Meeting Marketing Needs Establishing market contacts in this business is critical. Do not recommend growers start until markets are identified. Network growers with potential buyers. Arrange for tours of facilities and company operations Provide growers with information on new varieties on the market


43 Wine Grape Production


45 Why Grapes? Small acreage requirement –Up to 5 acres: Part-time venture –5-10 acres: Part-time plus seasonal hired help –10-15 acre: full time potential High Dollar return per acre –$3000-$7000 per acre gross returns Labor demands are spread throughout the year –Harvesting requires additional help –Dormant Pruning in winter time, training and spraying in spring – summer, Soil and climate seem suitable Low water reguirement

46 Production Needs Established a research and demonstration vineyard at Experiment station The vineyard was comprised of 27 varieties. A volunteer vineyard team was formed to aid the care and management of the vineyard. The research vineyard also served as an excellent teaching and outreach tool as volunteers became involved in viticultural practices in the vineyard.

47 Production Needs –Twilight Tours on three occasions to 168 growers –1 day Beginning Grape Growers Workshop for 85 producers –Farm Walking Tour on 5 occasions to 120 producers –Area vineyard tour for policy makers on 2 occasions to 49 attendees –Field visits and individual on-site consultations on 150 occasions –Presentations at regional conferences at 7 conferences to 300 producers

48 April 16, 2001

49 May, 2001



52 Matching Vine Grant Program A joint collaboration was formed with the Southern Maryland Agricultural Commission to offer a matching grant program for purchase of vines. Extension developed a set of criterion for evaluation of each applicant, evaluated each applicant, conducted site visits, organized the vine order and provided the educational training component.

53 Wine Cooperative The program helped to initiate and continues to support a regional Southern Maryland Grape Growers and Winery Association. This association works to promote the grape and wine industry in the region and serves as a networking and teaching opportunity

54 Why Grapes?Its the market! Market availability is the critical factor for successful wine grape production. Market demand for local grapes exceeds supply. Linked to law requiring wine labeled as Maryland wine to have percentage of Maryland grapes.

55 Why Grapes?Its the market! Grapes have political connections –Vineyards attract people who like to spend money making them attractive agritourism sites –Vineyards and wine go together. –Wine is a constant proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. - Benjamin Franklin –Wine is bottled poetry. - Robert Louis Stevenson

56 So get ready, hold on and enjoy the ride. The trying is half the fun.

57 And after all the hard work, you get to reap the benefit of your efforts!

58 The End

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