Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Blackberry Night Harvest Test Run in NC

On-farm blackberry trial with Lincoln County Cooperative Extension.  Check out the new logo! 

USUALLY, this time of year it is extremely hot (80/90's during the day, 70/80's at night) in North Carolina. It is also peak blackberry harvest. Both the blackberry fruit and people who harvest the fruit can become heat stressed with the high temperatures. Fruit can become soft, discolored (red and white drupes) and have a reduced shelf life and workers can suffer from heat exhaustion. So we asked Jeff Crotts, a blackberry grower in Vale, NC if we could work with him along with Lincoln Co. Cooperative Extension to see if night harvested fruit had better post harvest quality. We also thought that the night temperatures would be more conducive to worker health.

Earlier this week set up a large portable light in the blackberry field. Workers were also given head lamps.

Taking fruit temperatures every 3 hrs

We harvested blackberries every 3 hours for 24 hours. We took fruit temperatures from fruit harvested on both east facing and west facing canopy. We then took the flats to the cooler. We started at Noon on Monday and finished up at 9 am on Tuesday.

Temperatures were monitored throughout the experiment and we (actually Tom Dyson and Andrew Suggs Lincoln Co. Extension) also looked at leaf and fruit wetness through the night and several other nights. The station was provided courtesy of NC State Climate Office.

Temperatures were usually pleasant, so workers and fruit were not as stressed as they might have been under a normal 90F day. However, there was about a 20 degree temperature difference from day to night. So we should still have some good data on fruit post harvest evaluations. There were also differences on fruit harvetsted from east and west facing sides of the trellis.

All the fruit was then taken to the Plants for Human Health Institute where Penny Perkins-Veazsie will do post harvest evaluations on the fruit for the next couple of weeks.

There were differences in fruit temperatures throughout the 24 hours. The fruit harvested from the east facing side of the canopy got hot earlier in the day than the western facing fruit. We are still looking at the rest of data and will be sharing more as we get it analyzed.

Thanks to Rocco Schiavone, Guillermo Chacon-Jimenez, Tom Dyson, Andrew Suggs for all your help collecting data. Thanks to Jeff Crotts and crew members at Knob Creek Orchards for access to your field and all your help.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

It's time to scout for orange rust

Guest blog post by: Karen Blaedow

Spring has arrived here in the mountains of Western North Carolina and with the increasing temperatures blackberry primocanes have started to emerge across Henderson county. This is a great time to start scouting for the important blackberry disease, orange rust. Glancing across an orchard of green lush new growth, spindly primocanes with misshapen yellowish leaves easily captures one’s attention. Upon closer investigation, the wavy leaves will have orange spores forming along the lower leaf margins, which is characteristic of orange rust. So far, this year, Navaho has been the most widely affected variety, with a few Natchez plants also infected.

Orange rust is caused by two fungal organisms: Gymnoconia nitens and Arthuriomyces peckianus. Once a plant shows symptoms the rust is systemic meaning it will remain in the root system throughout the life of the plant and it’s floricanes will stop producing flowers. This is why it is recommended a plant showing symptoms be removed and destroyed. Confirm that the rust is orange rust and not the less destructive cane and leaf rust, caused by the fungus Kuehneola uredines. Microscopic inspection of the spores is the most effective way to distinguish between these two diseases. Have a county extension agent assist with diagnosis. More information on orange rust management can be found at

Karen Blaedow is new to Henderson Co, but is not new to NC Cooperative Extension. She was an Extension Agent in Wayne County a few years ago. Karen has an M.S.  in Plant Science from Clemson University with an emphasis in Plant Pathology.  She studied under Guido Schnabel (so she knows a few things about diseases!). She has a B.A. in Biology from College of Charleston,  and is originally from North Augusta, South Carolina. Karen has great skills and has spearheaded a nice study in blackberries that she will share more about in a future blog. Her contact information is below.

NC Extension Horticulture Agent 
Commercial Vegetables & Small Fruit
Henderson County Center100 Jackson Park Rd.Hendersonville, NC 28792
Office phone:  828-697-4891
Cell phone:  828-222-3695

Sunday, March 26, 2017

March Madness in North Carolina...berry fields

It is March and if you live in North Carolina you know it is March Madness season. This year we have the usual NC basketball teams (who shall not be named) making the Sweet 16/Elite8/Final 4. However, there is some "maddening" things happening in the berry fields as well.  Warm temperatures in February and March stimulated bud break, and were followed by some very cold temperatures (in the teens) March 22-24.

Blackberries throughout the Carolinas were in various stages of bud break.  In research plots, the most advanced cultivars (Ouachita and some numbered selections) were about 1/4" to 1/2" elongated.  King flowers were killed in most of the more elongated buds.

A grower field tour last week in the Lincolonton NC area,  revealed that earlier flowering cultivars like Ouachita and Kiowa had king flowers and some of the secondary flowers killed. There was less damage to Navaho and Von both later flowering/fruiting cultivars. There was no green/brown cane discoloration that would indicate cane vascular damage, at least none that was evident at this point.

We will know the extent of damage as the buds continue to elongate over the next couple of weeks.  Although the temperatures were quite low, damage does not appear to be as bad as other years.

Navaho blackberry plants, buds are less than 1/4" elongated. Photo taken 3/23/17. 

Ouachita blackberry canes, showing 1/4" or more elongated buds. Photo taken 3/23/17. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Warm spring, challenging pruning and cold temperatures ahead

Pruned field of Navaho blackberry, Guilford Co. NC
Yesterday the NC Cooperative Extension County offices in Guilford and Rockingham Counties held a joint blueberry and blackberry pruning demonstration in Guilford County. The pruning demo had been planned in the fall of 2016, with the thought that the first few days of March would be ideal time to prune. That is, plants are transitioning from winter dormancy to spring but buds are not yet swelling or opening. But February 2017 was much warmer than usual, so bud break had already occured on blackberry and blueberry. This is NOT a good time to prune because as you prune, you pull those removed canes through the canopy and you may accidently rub off buds on canes that remain.  The grower was wise and had already pruned all but 3 plants earlier this winter (see picuture above). 

A close up of these canes shows that the buds that are furthest out on the canes are more advanced on some canes (foreground), while other canes had very little bud break (background). The open buds could easily be broken or rubbed off during pruning.

With the predicted lows into the 20's this weekend, there is a potential for damage to flowers in the blackberry buds.  Research has shown that unlike strawberry or blueberry ALL stages of flowers in blackberry are killed when the plant temperature is at 27 F. 

Growers should monitor their fields and record the low temperatures. Check buds the day after the freeze and look to see if there is any damage in the center of the buds. See images below. 
Damaged blackberry bud (photo taken 2014).

Healthy blackberry bud (photo taken 2014).

We have posted lots of information on this site before. Here is a quick link to some of that information.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Latest Southern Region Small Fruit Newsletter

Here is a link to the latest Small Fruit News. This is an online publication that the Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium posts 4 times a year. Contributions are usually from faculty at one of the participating institutions, NC State University, Clemson University, The University of Arkansas, The University of Georgia, The University of Tennessee and Virginia Polytechnic and State University. 

In this  issue:
NCSU Strawberry Yield Trials 2015-16 
‘Opportunity’ and ‘Enchantment’ Wine Grapes for the Mid-South 
Training Opportunity for Beginning Blackberry Farmers in the Mid-South 
Creating a gentler, more profitable way to harvest blueberries
Take Advantage of the Clemson Fungicide Resistance Profiling Service

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Caneberry Resource List 2017

Blackberry and Raspberry Resources 2017
For the Southern Region of the US

2016 Southeast Regional Caneberry Production Guide
is available in 2 formats:
1. An online version that includes links to videos This is the first NCCES numbered publication to include videos!

2. There is also a PDF version available.  It is 44 pages long and includes all the text, color images and figures that the online version has but no videos. The PDF version that is a smaller file size (3.2 MB) is available at the end of the link above.

Grower Information Portal:

Caneberry Budgets:
Conventional and Organic budgets                                                                                                                                                            

Southern Region Small Fruits Consortium:
- see “Crops” and “Production Guides” sections
- IPM guides have pest management recommendations.
- Small Fruit News, a quarterly newsletter with timely articles and checklists for chores in blackberry and raspberries

NC Agricultural Chemicals Manual:
-for most recent pesticide recommendations
Berry Diagnostic Tool:
- all berries, including blackberries and raspberries

Blackberries for the Home Garden:

Berry Market Prices

Association Contact list and meetings
North American Raspberry & Blackberry Association (NARBA)
Debby Wechsler, Executive Secretary 

Phone: 919-542-4037

Annual meeting in Jan/Feb various US locations (Williamsburg CA)
Annual regional meeting often with SE Regional Fruit and Veg Conference, Savannah GA (early Jan)

North Carolina Commercial Blackberry and Raspberry Association (NCCBRA)
Annual meeting held each year (Jan/Feb/March) in western NC

SE Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference
Annual meeting early Jan, ½ day or more dedicated to blackberry and raspberry grower talks

Social Media
Team Rubus Blog:

Team Rubus Twitter
Facebook Team Rubus

Compendium of Raspberry and Blackberry Insects and Diseases

National Clean Plant Network-Berries

Small Fruit Update –PNW weekly newsletter during growing season.