Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Cold Injury in Caneberries

Temperatures on Jan 2, 2018 at 3 am in NC, SC and part of GA.  Source: 

Last week many areas of the southern US experienced some very cold temperatures and in some locations closer to the coast there was some significant snow accumulation.

We are monitoring our berry crops, strawberry crowns at Central Crops Research Station looked good late last week. The crowns were creamy white when we sliced them open.

I will be in Savannah at the SE Regional Fruit and VegetableConference if you want to bring in some caneberry samples, we can look at them together. I don't expect to see bud damage at this point, but there may be some damage to the canes.

I have posted information on caneberry winter injury several times in the past. Here is a link to all the posts, there are numerous pictures to help you identify potential cold injury.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Blackberry harvest prediction WE NEED YOUR HELP

Every year blackberry growers struggle with predicting when their fruit will be ready to harvest. Marketers want to know when and how much fruit you will have during the harvest season.

Harvest prediction models for other crops have used heat units/growing degree days in combination with phenology (flowering and fruiting dates) with reasonable success. In cooperation with the NC State Climate Office (SCO), we are gathering data to help growers predict harvest dates based on accumulated heat units.

We need your help. Can you dig up first harvest and peak harvest of Ouachita for multiple years?  The model will be better if we can get dates from a number of locations, over a number of years and compare that to the heat units that have been recorded that year.

Please complete the short survey for your farm. You can fill it out more than one time for multiple years and multiple cultivars, even multiple fields if you know there is a difference in ripening times. We would like data for Ouachita primarily, but will take other cultivars if you are sorting through your records and have those dates as well.

Questions? Contact

Friday, November 17, 2017

Arkansas Blackberry School

Southern region blackberry growers. Here is a great webinar series produced by the University of Arkansas. It covers the basics of production, pests, pruning etc on a quarterly basis.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Caneberry Fall Checklist (Chores)

Blackberry and Raspberry Seasonal Checklist Fall 2017
Gina Fernandez, Small Fruit Specialist, North Carolina State University

Check out the new look to the Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium website at:

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 continues
ü  Primocane-fruiting blackberry harvest continues
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  Prepare a list of cultivars for next spring’s new plantings. Find commercial caneberry nursery lists 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 Raspberry and Blackberry Association
    • February 21-24, 2018: North American Raspberry & Blackberry Conference, Ventura, California. A not-to-be-missed meeting, in a great location! Mark your calendar, and watch for more information. Opening reception Feb. 21, tour on Feb. 22, and educational sessions and tradeshow on Feb 23-24. The conference will be at  the Ventura Beach Marriott.  You can already make online hotel reservations under our group rate.
  • Southeast Regional Conference and Tradeshow, Savannah, GA January 11-12, 2018
    • Sessions on blackberry and strawberry, blueberry, muscadines and more!
o   Caneberry Sessions Organized by NARBA. Program coming soon; contact NARBA for details. The conference includes tracks for peaches, blueberries, strawberries, organics, vegetables, and more. For more conference info, registration, and hotel reservations, visit

Key Resources:
Southern Region Integrated Bramble Management Guide:

Southeast Regional Bramble (Caneberry) Production Guide:

Blackberry and Raspberry Grower Information
·      Portal at NCSU:
·      University of Arkansas

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

Friday, September 8, 2017

Hurricane Irma


Caneberry growers,  its hard to believe it is happening again. It's too soon to tell how much impact we will see in NC, we will know more in the next day or so. 

This link has information from several hurricanes/sotrms including Sany and Irene 

Here is the most recent post from 2016 on how to prepare and an excerpt from a Cornell article on how to deal with flooded fields:

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 2, 2017

Leaf Tissue Sampling Time for Blackberry Crop

Illustration of leaf numbers for sampling. Use leaves 3-5. Photo  courtesy NCDA &CS.
Now is a good time to take leaf tissue samples for floricane- and primocane-fruiting blackberries.

For  floricane fruiting types should be sampled 2 weeks after harvest is over.

See illustration above for leaf number. You want to try to pick the most recently mature leaf (MRML)  The MRML is usually 3rd to 5th leaf from top of the primocane.

For primocane fruiting types, leaves should be sampled when most of the fruit is in the green stage. Again try to pick a MRML. (It is a bit harder to illustrate, with all the laterals on a primocane fruiter. I will work to get a good image this season).

For both fruiting types, collect 1–2 leaves per bush from 20–40 bushes; 20-40 leaves total. Put them in a paper bag.

Since we don't know about each individual cultivars nutritional needs, it would be a good idea to keep cultivars and field locations separate. Keeping an accurate report for each cultivate each year will allow you to fine tune the fertility for that cultivar and location.

In North Carolina send your samples to:

NCDA&CS Agronomic Services—Plant Lab Mailing address:
1040 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699
Physical address: (If you are dropping off samples):
4300 Reedy Creek Rd, Raleigh NC 27607 

If you are not in NC, check with your local Cooperative Extension Agent to find the best local source for tissue sampling.

For more information on how to collect samples and how to read the report go to: