Thursday, January 22, 2015

Blackberry Chilling Update Jan 22 2014

Its 22 January and blackberry buds are tight.

According to the Blackberry chilling model CRONOS, at the Piedmont Research Station in Salisbury, we have accumulated 794 hours. Thornless blackberries need 700-1100 hours, and raspberries need 800-1700 hours. So for blackberries, we have experienced enough cold for some of them to break bud. BUT I don't think we are anywhere close to that based on field visits last week.

Pruning Navaho thornless blackberries at Mitchem Farm in Vale, NC. 

FYI I discussed chilling in a series of previous posts:

Here is an excerpt from one of those posts

High chilling/low chilling. Most of the blackberries and raspberries we grow in NC need to accumulate a high number of chilling hours in order to break bud and grow 'normally' next summer. Contrary to what you may initially think, we don't want low chilling plants. We want high chilling plants that can stay dormant when we get January thaws. 

If you live in the SEUS, you can find probably find out the chilling hours in your area.  The NC State Climate office has a great tool you can use if you want to calculate the chilling hours in your area. Here is a link.

Blackberry (Thorny)
Blackberry (Thornless)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Winter Injury Talk Savannah GA January 2015 part 2

Today in Savannah GA at the Vegetable and Fruit Conference, Wayne Mitchem, Ervin Lineberger and David Lockwood held a session on Winter Injury in blackberries. Here are Waynes Slides. He is a grower in the Lincolnton, NC area. Wayne Mitchem outlines the scenario on his farm during the 2013 growing season and the winter of 2014 below. 

In short, the conditions that were present on his farm during the 2013 season, lots of rain and late harvest season of Navaho kept the plants from hardening off. The result was cane injury to his Navaho plants most likely occurred in November. 

He lists some great management suggestions in the last slide and made during the session:
-prune out dead canes, this will minimize diseases that may be harbored in the dead canes, and increase air circulation in the canopy
-foliar fertilization may help in spring and summer to help deliver nutrients to the developing crop. (see comments on previous blog post
-there will be a need to increase pruning in 2015, as more canes were produced in 2014
-damage in November made plants more susceptible to cold later in January

See other posts on winter injury here:

Winter Injury Talk Savannah GA January 2015 part 1

Yesterday in Savannah GA at the  SE Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference, there was a session on winter injury in blackberries. Here are slides from Dr. David Lockwood, University of Tennesse. He reviews how plants prepare themselves for winter, types of injury that can occur and practices for reducing freeze damage.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Getting ready for the XIth International Rubus and Ribes Symposium

Only 16 days left to submit your abstract to the XIth International Rubus and Ribes Symposium. Use the link below to submit abstracts and register.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Caneberry Chores Winter 2014-15

Blackberry and Raspberry Seasonal Checklist
Winter 2014-15
Gina Fernandez, Small Fruit Specialist
North Carolina State University

This checklist was originally developed for blackberry growers in North Carolina. Many of the items apply to raspberry production as well. You may have to adjust your work activities either earlier or later depending on your location. For more detailed information, check the Southern Region Integrated Bramble Management Guide and the Southeast Regional Bramble Production Guide at:

Check the items off as they get done. This list is very general, but should help get you to think about what types of activities occur at various times of the year. If you would like other items to be added to this list, send them to me and I will add them next time.

Plant growth and development
  • Plant is not visibly growing during the winter months although many blackberries will retain their leaves through the winter
  • Some differentiation is occurring in the flower buds
  • Low chilling cultivars can break bud in January after adequate winter chilling. You can monitor chilling hours accumulated in eight states in the eastern US by accessing this site:
  • Developmental stages at this time of year as mentioned in the PM guide are : 1. Dormant 2. Delayed dormant (swollen bud) to green tip

Pruning and trellising
  • Pruning should occur in late winter.  However, in some areas winter ice storms can do tremendous damage to plants and trellis systems. If you produce blackberries in one of these areas, pruning can take place early winter to help avoid severe damage
  • Make trellis repairs after plants have defoliated but before pruning and training.
  • Erect types
    • Prune out the spent floricanes
    • Tie canes to wires in a fan shape
    • Cut lateral branches back to 8-12”
    • Thin canes to 6-8 canes/ hill (4 ft spacing)
  • Trailing types
    • Prune out spent floricanes
    • Tie or weave canes to wire so that they do not overlap
    • Prune side laterals to 12-18”
    • Thin canes to 6-8 hill (6-8ft spacing)
  • Primocane fruiting raspberries and blackberries
    • Prune (mow) primocane fruiting types to ground level

Weed control
Check the Southern Regional Bramble integrated Management Guide for recommendations.
  • Many summer weed problems can be best managed in the fall and winter using preemergent herbicides. Determine what weeds have been or could be a problem in your area. Check with local extension agent for cultural or chemical means to control these weeds. 
Insect and disease scouting
Check the Southern Regional Bramble integrated Management Guide for recommendations.
  • Scout fields for insect and disease damage and remove those canes
  • Remove wild blackberries and raspberries by the roots if they are within 600 ft of your planting during the winter 

  • Take soil tests to determine fertility needs for spring plantings. 
  • There are some new raspberry and blackberry cultivars available each year. If you have not tried them or it is not know how they will do in your region, it is best to order a small quantity to see how well they will perform in your area
  • For larger growers, prepare list of cultivars for 2015 plantings and order now. Smaller quantities of plants can be order in early 2014 for spring 2014 planting
  • A commercial small fruit nursery list at 

Water management
  • Make repairs to irrigation system (check pumps, lines, etc)
  • Plants generally do not need supplemental water in winter 

Marketing and miscellaneous
  • Order containers for next season
  • Make contacts for selling fruit next season
  • Attend grower meetings:

o   The 2015 North American Raspberry & Blackberry Conference will be held in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on February 24-27, 2015. For more information and an sneak peek at the program: Overview.htm
o   Southeast Regional Conference and Tradeshow, with sessions on blackberry
o   January 8-9, 2015, at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center
o   The North Carolina Commercial Blackberry and Raspberry Growers Association
Date not set at printing. For more information contact

For more information on growing caneberries see:

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dr. Moo Jung Kim

Gina Fernandez, Moo Jung Kim and Penelope Perkins-Veazie after the graduation ceremonies at NC State University December 18, 2014.
Congratulations to Dr. Moo Jung Kim. She is the most recent graduate from Team Rubus. Dr. Kim has joined the ranks of some wonderful scientists from our program, PHHI and NCSU Department of Horticultural Science. Moo Jung is currently working as a Visiting Scientist at West Virginia University.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Request for Proposals for 2015 Funding

A reminder....

The North American Bramble Growers Research Foundation (NABGRF) Inc. seeks proposals for bramble research for the year 2015. All bramble proposals will be considered. However special consideration will be given to proposals related to the specific priorities established for this round of funding.  
Pest Management Strategies
  • Management and biology of Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD)
  • Management and biology of Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB)
  • Management (?) of Agrobacterium tumefaciens (crown gall)
  • Evaluate new insecticides (pesticides) for blackberry and raspberry production.  
Production Efficiency and Profitability
  • Management of blackberries and raspberries in tunnels (pruning, training and trellis systems)
  • Post-harvest handling for small farmers
Cultivar Development and Testing
  • Germplasm development
Special Needs
  • Marketing
Since 1999, NABGRF has funded a total of 76 proposals totaling $184,572. Funding for individual projects is expected to range from $2000-$5000. In order to expedite the process, we ask that your request stay within this range. Please note that the NABGRF does not  pay overhead or "indirect" costs. The major source of funds for NABGRF's research grants is contributions by nurseries to NABGRF's Nursery Contribution Program, initiated in 2007. The Foundation very much appreciates their support
Proposals will be reviewed by the Research Committee of the NABGRF by the next North American Raspberry & Blackberry Association annual meeting, February 24-27, 2015 in Fayetteville, AR. The Research Committee will forward their recommendations to the NABGRF Board of Trustees. Final funding decisions are made by the Board of Trustees. Notice of awards will be sent out in March 2015. For more information, email either of the NABGRF  Research Co-Coordinators, Gina Fernandez and Jeff Chandler.
The deadline for proposals is December 20, 2014.
Sending Proposals: Email your proposal as a PDF file to by the deadline above.