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Grant money available for eligible concord vineyards

Aurore replanted with help from the Vineyard Improvement Program. Submitted Photo.

Did you inherit an old Concord vineyard? Is your Concord vineyard on land better suited for something else? What would you like to grow there instead? Is there a block of Concords that under-produces that would be better to remove, tile and replant? Or maybe you just can’t find a contract for the Concords you have and want to try something else. We might be able to give the nudge needed to get on that right path.

The Lake Erie Regional Grape Program is currently accepting applications from owners of Concord vineyards that may be in a poor site, not producing well, or the vineyard is in disrepair and needs to be removed. Vineyards in New York’s Southern Tier which includes Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany, Steuben, Schuyler, Chemung, Tompkins, Tioga, Broome, Chenango and Delaware counties, as well as those in Erie and Niagara Counties are eligible. The Vineyard Improvement Program is one of the outcomes of the New York Concord Grape Summit held in Westfield in April of 2018. The Lake Erie Regional Grape Program and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County are working with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to administer the program which is funded by the Southern Tier Agricultural Improvement Fund.

This is a reimbursement grant that matches funds used to remove Concord vineyards and then replace them with an agricultural commodity. It will match 50% of removal costs up to $1,500 per acre, which may include labor, custom hire, equipment use or rental, and land clearing. It will also match 25% of replant costs up to $1,500 per acre. This could include trellis, perennial plant material — vines/trees (seed cost will not be reimbursed), labor, equipment use or rental, and land preparation for specialty crops. Reimbursement cannot exceed $3,000 per acre with a maximum award of $50,000 per applicant.

The application can be found online at www.lergp.com. Click on the big purple button that says Vineyard Improvement Program. Once there you can read more about the program. The application can be found on the menu to the left — VIP Application. You will be asked to upload a budget for removal and a business plan that shows how removing the current Concord vineyard and replanting will be a benefit to your vineyard operation. If you need any help with this process, please contact Kevin Martin at (716)397-9674, or at kmm67@cornell.edu. Once the contract is established work can be done to remove the old vineyard. If you have already removed or are in the process of removing an old Concord vineyard that you think might qualify for this program, please contact Cornell officials and they will walk through the details with you.

The Vineyard Improvement Program is finishing its second year, and has had 18 applicants. Cornell officials hope that with this program some of the abandoned vineyards in the region that are currently a reservoir for insects and disease will be removed. Those reservoirs require commercial growers to apply more pesticides in order to maintain control and produce a quality product. If you know of someone that might be interested in the program that doesn’t get this newsletter, please feel free to share this information with them.

If you have any questions or need help getting to the next step, please contact Kim Knappenberger at ksk76@cornell.edu.

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