New York State has a diverse and geographically widespread greenhouse industry, which has historically been primarily composed of floriculture crops. The wholesale value of floriculture in NYS was $169 million in 2012, produced in 565 acres of covered greenhouse by 577 operations with greater than $10,000 in sales [U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 2013]. The production of vegetables in greenhouses and high tunnels is expanding in NYS, adding to the diversity of the industry. Greenhouse vegetable production had an annual wholesale value of $18 million in NYS produced by 201 operations with 68 acres of covered greenhouse space according to the most recent data available (USDA, 2009).
Growers of greenhouse crops in NYS have identified the need for improved diagnosis and management of diseases and insects and information on substrate and fertilizer management to reduce crop loss or loss in quality. Extension specialists and educators have traditionally offered 1-d greenhouse conferences in January each year at four or five locations around the state following a lecture presentation format. However, we felt this format was not the best way to convey some of the information that attendees were requesting, such as identification of greenhouse insects and diseases from living specimens, or being able to practice water and media sample testing. In response, our team developed a hands-on workshop model for educational sessions that we termed Integrated Pest Management In-Depth. The objective of the program was to use an interactive small-group format to encourage active learning of topics related to IPM and plant culture leading to practice change and improved profitability in greenhouse operations. Initially, the program was offered on the Cornell University campus in Ithaca, NY. Although this campus-based program was well attended, we also wanted to respond to geographic barriers that prevented some growers from attending. We applied for and received funding from the New York Farm Viability Institute to offer the program at several locations throughout the state. Therefore, another objective of the project was to reach growers and extension educators that we had not previously reached with our on-campus workshops.
U.S. Department of Agriculture 2009 2007 Census of agriculture, United States summary and state data, Vol. 1. U.S. Dept. Agr., Natl. Agr. Stat. Serv. AC-07-A-51
U.S. Department of Agriculture 2013 Floriculture Crops 2012 Summary. 10 June 2013. <http://usda01.library.cornell.edu/usda/current/FlorCrop/FlorCrop-04-25-2013.pdf>