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Concord Vineyard Program Enters Year 3

New Aurore vineyard planted with the help of the Vineyard Improvement Program.

PORTLAND — Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County’s Lake Erie Regional Grape Program is heading into the third of five years of the Vineyard Improvement Program.

October 2020 marks the “sweet spot” of the program. There is still the maximum amount of time available for removal and replant. The program allows for one year to complete the Concord removal and two more years to complete the replant. Many applicants haven’t needed quite that much time, but some do, often depending on what commodity is being replanted. For more information, visit lergp.com and click on the big purple Vineyard Improvement Program button.

Applicants need not be grape growers. Many of the abandoned Concord vineyards around have probably been willed to family who have no interest in growing grapes, or the vineyards just were no longer profitable and fell into disrepair. Landowners are welcome to apply. Proof of Concord will be required, and the land must be replanted to an agricultural commodity. Replants have included field crops, cover crops, hay fields, vegetable plots, orchards and vineyards — even Concord vineyards.

The Vineyard Improvement Program is a reimbursement program that will issue one check at the completion of the project. Applicants can be reimbursed 50% of their costs up to $1,500 per acre for Concord vineyard removal, and 25% of their costs up to $1,500 per acre for replant. Eligible costs include labor, equipment use, custom hire, land clearing, trellis, plant material, tiling if needed. Seed crops are not eligible for reimbursement.

So far there have been 22 applicants to the program, eight of whom already have their projects completed and have received their reimbursement checks. To date more than $148,000 has been paid out and over 107 acres of unwanted/uncontracted Concord vineyards have been replaced with another agricultural commodity.

The program is provided by New York Ag and Markets and is paid for by the Southern Tier Agricultural Industry Enhancement Program. It is available to the Southern Tier of New York which for this program includes the following counties Chautauqua, Erie, Niagara, Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Steuben, Schuyler, Tompkins and Tioga.

For more information, Kim Knappenberger (ksk76@cornell.edu), Kevin Martin (kmm52@psu.edu) or Jennifer Phillips Russo (jjr268@cornell.edu).

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