Small fruit crops are knowledge and technology-intensive enterprises. All the land grant universities in the southern region of the United States have their strengths and weaknesses with regard to expertise and information dissemination with these crops. It is far more cost effective to meet the demands for small fruit crop information and research with a regional approach that capitalizes on the individual strengths of each cooperating land grant university. This is the basic premise on which the Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium is founded.
The Consortium originally involved Clemson University, the University of Georgia, and North Carolina State University. It was initially established as the Southeastern Small Fruit Center in January 1999. In March 2000, the name was changed to the Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium in order to include all the southern universities, not just those in the Southeast. In 2002 the University of Tennessee joined the Consortium, with Virginia Tech becoming a member in 2005. The University of Arkansas joined in 2008, LSU AgCenter joined in 2017, and Auburn University joined in 2018. Auburn University’s move to join the Consortium was motivated by a need to advance and promote Alabama’s berry and grape industries.
The long term mission of the Consortium is envisioned to involve collaborative efforts at various sites across the region between the following entities that are working together to enhance the development of the small fruit industries in the region.
- small fruit growers and grower organizations
- industries and service organizations allied with and/or serving small fruit growers
- agricultural extension programs and research stations
Visit the Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium website for more information.