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Grant money available for Concord vineyards

Submitted Photo Pictured is an under-producing Concord vineyard with poor weed control.

PORTLAND — If you have (or know someone that has) a vineyard that resembles the one pictured here, we might be able to help. The Vineyard Improvement Program has been made available to land owners and growers to remove Concord vineyards and then replace them with an agricultural commodity that is better suited to their needs.

To date almost $75,000 has been reimbursed to applicants who have participated in the program. Applications have been submitted from Chautauqua, Steuben, Schuyler, Niagara and Erie counties. The amount of Concord acreage represented by those applications amounts to almost 190 acres and of those acres, approximately 72 are currently committed to being replanted as grapes, with the remainder changing to peaches, apples, raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb, asparagus and some to field/seed crops.

The program requires that the Concord vineyard be completely removed and then replanted to whatever the grower/landowner decides will work best in their business plan, however the land does need to be returned to agricultural use. Because it is a reimbursement grant, payment is made once all of the work has been completed and receipts submitted. The applicant can be reimbursed 50% of removal costs up to $1,500 per acre and 25% of replant costs up to $1,500 per acre for a total possible reimbursement of $3,000 per acre. Each applicant can apply only once and the reimbursement cannot exceed $50,000. Removal work should not begin before the application is submitted and the vineyard has been verified as a Concord vineyard.

The Vineyard Improvement Program began on Oct. 15, 2018 and applications will be accepted until Oct. 15, 2022. Applications can be submitted online at www.lergp.com. We have a rolling application period. First come — first served, until funds are expended. The goal of the program is to remove sources of pest and infection which will help neighboring commercial vineyards by reducing the amount of inoculum present. Questions regarding this program can be directed to Kim Knappenberger at ksk76@cornell.edu.

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets through the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program (LERGP) has established this reimbursement grant opportunity funded by the Southern Tier Agricultural Industry Enhancement Program. As a result of the Concord Summit held in Westfield, New York in April of 2018, Commissioner Richard Ball introduced this program available for Concord vineyards in the Southern Tier which includes Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Steuben, Schuyler, Tompkins, and Tioga Counties as well as Erie and Niagara counties.

The Lake Erie Regional Grape Program is a cooperative effort between Cornell and Penn State Universities; the participating Cornell Cooperative Extension Associations of Chautauqua, Erie, Niagara and Cattaraugus Counties in New York and Erie County in Pennsylvania; and participating industry partners National Grape Cooperative (Welch’s), Constellation Brands and Walkers Fruit Basket. The LERGP extension team provides research-based educational programming for commercial grape growers throughout the year at venues across the Lake Erie grape belt. For more information on LERGP, call 716-792-2800 or visit our website at http://lergp.cce.cornell.edu/

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