Getting Started with Small Fruit & Hops

The Southern Maryland Agricultural Development (SMADC) and University of Maryland Extension (UME) are partnering to offer a new series of workshops on everything you need to know to grow, sell and market small fruits and hops. This workshop series is made possible in part by a Rural Maryland Prosperity Investment Fund Grant (RMPIF) awarded to SMADC, a division of the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland. The first part of the series, Ready to Take Root: Getting Started with Small Fruit and Hops, was completed in March and April of 2018.

An Advanced Series of workshops are scheduled throughout Spring, Summer, and Fall of 2019. Stay tuned for those dates and more details.


There is a lot of interest in brambles (blackberries and raspberries) as well as blueberries as an alternative enterprise. These small fruits have a high per acre value and are often sought after by the consumers for the nutritional benefits and fresh taste.

This workshop session began with an overview of site preparation considerations for both blueberries and brambles including site selection, soil testing and fertility, and nematology. Next, establishment methods were discussed including variety selection for both brambles and blueberries, planting techniques, trellising requirements and bird protection. We rounded out the evening with a discussion of key pest management principles.



The number of local breweries has expanded rapidly over the last five years and with it the demand for fresh, locally source hops has also increased.

Hops can be grown well in the Southern Maryland region, however they require careful management and attention to detail to be successful. This workshop will provide an industry overview to include the current status of hops production and demand situation.

Next, production techniques will be discussed, including trellising requirements, site preparation, establishment methods and a review of current research on hops varieties best suited for this area. The evening will conclude with a review of hops harvest and processing methods.



Strawberries lead the region in terms of both acreage and value for small fruit crops. There are two primary production methods for strawberries- the perennial matted row system and the annual plasticulture system. This workshop discussed both systems with an emphasis upon establishment methods, site selection, variety selection and pest management.

Niche & Alternative Crops

There are many opportunities for specialty production of niche fruit varieties in the Southern Maryland region. These species each bring unique market opportunities but require specialty production techniques. This workshop provided an industry overview and current market situation for specialty fruit followed by a discussion of Aronia, Beachplum, Cherry, Goldenberry, Ground Cherry, and Table Grapes.



Marketing Small Fruits

Producers don’t make money when they grow a crop, they make money when they sell it. Marketing is one of the most important things a business can do. Not only does marketing build brand awareness but it can also increase sales, grow businesses and engage customers. Workshop attendees received marketing information and tips targeted for each session. This final intensive marketing training session explored developing your product’s story, identifying your “ideal customer” profile, evaluating diversified marketing strategies, maximizing promotional materials and social media, and building a sustainable brand.


Market Reports

Produce Marketing Reports (Lancaster Farming)
Philadelphia Terminal Market Produce Report, Pennsylvania Produce Auction Reports

USDA Specialty Crops Terminal Markets Standard Reports