by Timothy Weigle
At the recent 2011 Lake Erie Regional Grape Program Growers' Conference, Dan Sprague, Cattaraugus County Vineyard Owner and Grape Grower was recognized as the recipient of the 2009 NYS IPM Program Excellence in IPM Award.
Left to right, Don Rutz, Greg Loeb, Dan Sprague and Tim Weigle
Dan Sprague has been a valuable cooperator with Tim Weigle, Statewide Grape IPM Specialist, in applied research and implementation projects over the past twenty years. While it is not uncommon with on-farm projects to have grower cooperation during the timeframe of a grant, only to see the practices discarded when the grant ends, this is not the case with Dan. While he has not incorporated every IPM practice that has been tried in his vineyards, (some have proven ineffective or were not cost effective) he distinguishes himself among the industry by using cost benefit analysis of practices to determine their long-term viability.
Extension educators and fellow growers commented in their letters of support that Dan is respected by other growers for his keen insight on what IPM practices provide the best chances to make a profit in an industry where profit margins are tight. Dan is always one of the first to volunteer his shop for Coffee Pot meetings, the weekly small grower meetings held during the growing season in the Lake Erie region. Depending on the timing of the meeting it is not uncommon for Dan to stress the importance of getting into the vineyards and scouting, using adequate water per acre, spraying every row or know the life cycles of a pest to help in timing of early season fungicide applications to reduce primary infections.
Dan is always willing to share his experience in the implementation of IPM practices in his vineyard. His ability to communicate exemplifies his character and growers in the Lake Erie grape industry benefit from his knowledge. He is a dedicated grower and worthy of this award. It is rewarding to work with a grower that not only participates in meetings and demonstration projects but actually puts into practice IPM techniques that he has learned.
To be eligible for this award the candidate must be nominated by an employee of Cornell University or by a member of a NYS IPM Program Committee for their work in IPM that deserves special recognition, and have a minimum of two letters supporting the nomination.