Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fall Caneberry Chores 2016

Blackberry and Raspberry Seasonal Checklist Fall 2016
Gina Fernandez, Small Fruit Specialist, North Carolina State University

Many of us are recovering from the wrath of Hurricane Matthew. I posted some information on the Team Rubus Blog prior to the storm.  In parts of eastern NC, soils are saturated and there is still a threat of additional flooding as the rivers continue to fill with water from the tributaries. There is some information in the blog post on how to dealing with flooded berry fields.

The NC State University Extension has a new look to their portals. Check out the Blackberry and Raspberry Portal here.

The Northwest Berry Foundation has a great newsletter that focuses on production issues in the Pacific Northwest. However, they pull information from a range of sources, and many of the articles are relevant for all berry growers. It comes out on a weekly basis during the production season and less often during the off-season. Here is a link to the most current newsletter. therea are a couple of articles on labor situations on the west coast.

Plant growth and development
ü  Primocanes continue to grow but growth rate is slower
ü  Flower buds start to form in leaf axils on summer-fruiting types
ü  Carbohydrates and nutrients in canes begin to move into the roots
ü  Primocane fruiting types begin to flower in late summer/early fall and fruit matures until frost in fall
ü  Primocane leaves senesce late fall
ü  Primocane-fruiting raspberry harvest
ü  Primocane-fruiting blackberry harvest
Pruning, trellising and tunnels
ü  Spent floricanes should be removed as soon as possible
ü  Optimal time to prune is after the coldest part of the season is over. However pruning can start in late fall if plantings are large (late winter for smaller plantings).
ü  Start trellis repairs after plants have defoliated
ü  Remove covers on three-season tunnels
Weed management
ü  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 your states agricultural chemical manual and local extension agent for the best-labeled chemicals to control these weeds
Insect and disease scouting
ü  Continue scouting for insects and diseases
ü  Remove damaged canes as soon as possible to lessen the impact of the pest
ü  Check the Southern Regional Bramble integrated Management Guide for recommendations
ü  Growers in warmer areas (e.g. extreme southeastern NC) can plant into early December.  Preparations for winter planting should have already been made. If you have questions about winter planting please contact your local county extension agent
ü  In cooler areas, prepare list of ­cultivars for next spring’s new plantings. Find a commercial small fruit nursery list at
ü  Take soil tests to determine fertility needs for spring plantings.
ü  Non-nitrogenous fertilizers are best applied in the fall to established plantings.
ü  If soil is bare, plant an overwintering cover crop (e.g. rye) to build organic matter and slow soil erosion.
Marketing and miscellaneous
ü  Order containers for next season
ü  Make contacts for selling fruit next season

Make plans to attend Grower meetings! Blackberries and raspberries are part or all of these programs.
  • North American Berry Conference, Grand Rapids MI
    • December 4-6, 2016.  Because the Great Lakes Expo is held in December, we actually have TWO conferences in one calendar year — this December meeting will replace our Winter 2017 conference, which would typically be held in January or February.
    • This year NARBA is meeting jointly with the North American Strawberry Association (NADSGA), in association with the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, and Farm Market Expo in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
    • This is a highly regarded regional meeting that attracts more than 4000 participants and 450 exhibitors. It is one of the largest trade shows for fruit and vegetable growers, greenhouse growers and farm marketers in North America!
  • Southeast Regional Conference and Tradeshow, Savannah, GA
    • Sessions on blackberry and strawberery, blueberry, muscadines and more!
    • January 5-8, 2017, at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center
    • Registration and program information can be found at
    • Video of past conference

Key Resources:
Southern Region Integrated Bramble Management Guide:

Southeast Regional Bramble Production Guide:

Blackberry and Raspberry Grower Information Portal:

Social Media links:
Twitter: @NCTeamRubus  
Facebook : Team Rubus   

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Hurricane Matthew Preparation for Caneberries

The latest forecasts have Hurricane Matthew just skidding the southeastern coast of NC. Caneberry Growers in Eastern NC (and the rest of the southeastern US) should be preparing their fields now and be prepared after the rains leave.

Here are some things that can be done before the storm:

IF YOU ARE IN AN AREA WITH HIGH PREDICTED WINDS: You should consult with your tunnel manufacturer to determine how much wind your tunnels can withstand. Removing or skinning the plastic off the tunnels  is a whole lot less costly than having the entire tunnel mangled.

IF YOU HAVE A SHIFT OR ROTATING ARM TRELLIS: Lay the trellis in the horizontal or down position and make sure it can stay in that position. Some trellises do not have the capability to lock in the horizontal position. If that is the case, it may be better in the upright position.

POTENTIAL FOR ELEVATED DISEASES: Canes if properly trellised should not lodge as a result of the wind and rain. However, there may be some physical damage to canes. Make sure you walk your fields before and after the storm. There may be a need to do some extra pruning and use of a fungicide if you can get out into the field after the storm. Phil Brannen, UGA plant pathologist recommends a spray for Cane blight, before the storm. See the SRSFC for recommended chemicals.

After the hurricane passes there may be some soils that have flooded. Here is some information from a previous post from Cornell University. Since most of the berry crops have already been harvested, we are primarily concerned with flooded fields effects on roots.

This is an excerpt form an article is provided courtesy of Cornell University. It was written for flooding situations in the northeast in the late summer. However,  a flooded field poses similar problems for plant survival and is still an issue in the fall, as plants are not yet dormant. 

Steve Reiners and Marvin Pritts
Dept. of Horticulture
Cornell University


How long a crop can live once it is flooded and what may be the effect on yield? Berry crops can tolerate a great deal of flooding when they are dormant, but when actively growing in summer, flooding for any length of time can be detrimental. This time of year is particularly bad because plants are preparing to make flower buds for next year, and stress can compromise this process. If plant roots were under water for more than 48 hours, expect next year’s crop to be compromised as well.

Plants previously flooded may develop an off-green or yellowish color.  These plants are suffering from a complex of nutrient deficiencies, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and perhaps others, even though the soil contains adequate amounts. But the main deficient element is oxygen. Plant roots need oxygen to take up nutrients and water to utilize the photosynthate from the tops and to grow. With the heavy rains we have had, soils are saturated; that is, nearly all of the pore space is filled with water, leaving little room for air. Ideally, for good root growth 50 percent of the pore space should be filled with air. As soils drain, air is drawn into the soil, but when it rains, the water forces the air out of the pores. As is obvious to all, what is needed now is several rain-free days so the soils can drain and draw in air to stimulate root growth and help disperse toxic compounds that accumulate when plants lack oxygen.  Once the plant roots get adequate oxygen they will begin to grow and take up the nutrients present in the soil. Anything that can be done to remove surface water will be helpful.

Many plant diseases will be much worse following flooding rains (e.g. Phytophthora and Botrytis), so closely monitor crops and manage these diseases. Phytophthora spores are spread under flooded conditions, so chemical treatment may be warranted in susceptible crops (red raspberries and blackberries).

(Thanks to Steve Rieners and Marvin Pritts at Cornell University for sharing this with us.) 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Cane blight at end of season?

Cane blight infection at tip of cane where it had been pruned as a primocane.

Cane bight symptoms in entire canes.  Dead canes are silvery/gray in appearance. Photo phil Brannen. UGA

As the blackberry season winds down, there are several reports of loss of crop and cane death before the crop ripens. This is often occurring in plantings that are low or no spray such as homeowners and small commercial plantings. The canes become infected when they are primocanes as tipping or pruning occurs in the summer. 

In at least one instance, samples sent into the NCSU Plant Insect and Disease Clinic have confirmed that Cane Blight caused by the fungus, Leptosphaeria coniothyrium. This disease is common in roses and some ornamentals. 

Here is a link to the disease.

Here is a link to the IPM manual that has control methods:

and and article on the disease

Please send in samples to your states disease clinic to confirm any diagnosis.

Phil Brannen, UGA also sent these comments on fields with infected canes:

"On the current canes, there is nothing to be done to prevent it from spreading.  After harvest, I would immediately cut out the old floricanes.  The most full-proof approach to wiping out old inoculum would require complete removal and burning of the old canes.  Some producers hesitate to do this, so complete flail-mowing of the canes may work.  However, I would be careful to say that we don’t have research information to say that this completely destroys the inoculum.  I would tip or pinch prune where possible on the new primocanes, as opposed to large pruning cuts, and I would apply Pristine or Rally (make sure they are labeled for your state) after each day of pruning to prevent infection on the pruning cuts. Hopefully, this will break the cycle."

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Red drupelet disorder, Australia updated powerpoint

Max Edgley, from the University of Tasmania, sent me this updated power point last week.

He looked at physical damage, N levels (low/medium/high), cooling temperature treatments. His preliminary data suggests:

  • Physical damage increases red drupelet numbers
  • High N application during harvest had higher numbers of red drupelets
  • Staged cooling (precooling and cooling) had less red drupelets than just one cooling temperature.

For more details on specifics of this work,  see his presentation at:

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Red drupelet disorder

Red drupelets in blackberry fruit harvested in the afternoon. Upper image is showing more than 15% red drupelets. Lower image is a mild case. Upper image PPV, lower image GF.
Now that we are reaching peak harvest and peak summer temperatures, red drupelet disorder is starting to appear in harvested fruit. After the fruit is harvested, individual black drupetlets will revert back to a red color. Red druplet disorder is also called reversion, reddening or red cell. Penny Perkins-Veazie has worked on this problem for several years. Here are some of her thoughts:

- Harvest before 10 am, get to cooler within an hour of harvest. 
- Remove heat quickly or delay field heat development.
- Forced air cool may need to be set 5 F higher than usual to avoid excess coldness at top of pallet.
-Semi truck loads tend to have more red drupe at front end (near rig) and at top due to air movement and nearness to cooling units.
-Least susceptible variety continues to be Navaho.  Those showing problems are Natchez, Tupi.  Ouachita can be problematic if rainfall has been high and harvest is going into afternoon.
-I'm not sure about PrimeArk 45 or Osage.  The new 'crispy' type does not seem to get red drupe, indicating a firmness/cell wall component in color reversion.
-A 15% red drupe (color reversion) in the load is considered the limit to avoid rejection.  
-Trellising or using E-W row orientation helps to keep fruit in shade longer, decreases exposure to light/heating.  (GF: our shift/RCA trellises seem to have less red and white druplets in general)
-We are not yet sure of production practice issues on red drupe although some reports with tunnel grown blackberries indicate keeping nitrogen rates lower and avoiding heat buildup help with the problem.
-Environmental possibilities for exacerbating the problem seem to be water stress (high rainfall within a few days of harvest, or high rainfall in spring followed by very hot temperatures), nitrogen imbalance, and possibly calcium/potassium availability.

Max Edgley, from the University of Tasmania, has an excellent slide show on this disorder. Max attended the Rubus and Ribes Symposium last year and has shared some of his findings here:

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Great New Way To Get Your Choice of USDA-AMS (Agricultural Marketing Service) Information

Jeffrey Davis from USDA-AMS (Agricultural Marketing Service) has encouraged me to share this information with both Extension personnel and growers. The USDA-AMS has started a new email subscription service to help you have access to more of the all the useful AMS information.  The service allows you to choose how many programs you will receive information from. For example, I subscribe to the Specialty Crops Program. And today they sent me a notice about a webinar the Supply Reports Branch, is hosting next week. They will have a group of panelists that will help explain the Terminal Market, Shipping Point, Retail, Local, International, Movement, and Organic reports. Here is the information to sign up:

"USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is pleased to announce that we have implemented a new email subscription service to make it easier for you to learn about updates on the topics which interest you. We will continue to send you emails on everything from upcoming Specialty Crops Program (SCP) webinars, informational Market News updates, and our SCP newsletters. 

Our new platform will allow you to receive important e-mail notices containing the latest information about AMS program areas of interest to you.  You’ll have quick access to material regarding new opportunities from our Marketing Orders & Agreements Division (MOAD), Promotion & Economics Division (PED), Specialty Crops Inspection Division (SCID), Specialty Crop Market News (MN) and our Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) Division.  Best of all: you will be in complete control over what information you receive! 

Do I need to do anything?

No, we will continue to send you timely, relevant information on all of the important AMS programs & services that you have received in the past. Starting today though, the emails will be coming from our new email subscription service GovDelivery. If you would like to customize the topics that you are subscribed to follow these three simple steps:

Step 1: Customize your GovDelivery Subscriber Preferences

Access your account preferences here:
Enter your e-mail address and click the “Submit” button.  Click the “Preferences” tab, choose your e-mail delivery preferences, and enter an optional password (highly recommended).
Click the “Submit” button.
Step 2: Choose Your Topics of Interest

Note: We have already selected topics that you have already shown interest in, so take a moment to review those selections.

Click the “Subscriptions” tab, and then click the “Add Subscriptions” link.
Browse the “Subscription Topics” categories and topics of interest.  Click on the “+” sign to expand categories and topics.
If you want to receive e-mail updates on a particular category or topic, click the checkbox next to that category or topic.  If you choose a category, you’ll receive updates for all the topics under that category.
Save your topics by clicking the “Submit” button at the bottom of the page.
Step 3: Get the Updates You Want

When AMS has new information to share related to any of the categories or topics you chose, we will e-mail that information to you.

Who Can I Contact If I Have Questions?

E-mail questions related to your subscription to Jeff Davis

Jeffrey Davis
Business Development Specialist
Specialty Crops Program
USDA/Agricultural Marketing Service
1400 Independence Ave SW
Stop 0236, Room 2085-S
Washington, DC   20250
Direct  (202) 260-9519
Cell      (202) 306-2673
Fax      (202) 720-0016

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Blackberry Botrytis Resistance Profile

Botrytis (gray mold) is a common sight in strawberry fields, especially if it has been a rainy season. Although less common in blackberry fields, it can occur.

Guido Schnabel, Clemson Univ. is offering to test blackberry/raspberry samples to determine if you have resistance to  botrytis (gray mold) fungicides at your farm. He has done this for strawberry growers for a number of years and some blackberry growers have also used this service. It is a great way to determine if what you are spraying is effective in controlling gray mold.

See the link below for downloadable instructions. They suggest you use the swabs instead of fruit, because they are easier to ship. Note also that each farm will get 2 free samples analyzed, if you would like more than that, there will be a $110 charge.

Please share these with folks that may be interested.

Sample document link:

For more information on the service see: