Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Tour of eastern NC blackberry industry

Picture of people at one of the new blackberry farms in Bladen Co.

Last week our lab group took a tour of the growing blackberry industry in eastern NC with the local county agent in Bladen Co, Bruce Mclean (thanks Bruce).  We were joined by staff from the Piedmont Research Station, Hort Crop Unit. 

Although blackberries are not new to this part of the state,  this new acreage is an exciting addition to our dynamic blackberry industry. Here are a few of the highlights...

  • There are several new large plantings of 20 acres or more in the area and all will be under high tunnels when in fruit is being produced. 
  •  Growers are using automated fertigation systems that can be run from cell phones remotely.
  • Some growers are planting Univ. of Arkansas cultivars including the new 'Caddo', one grower is testing some of the new USDA cultivars ('Eclipse' and 'Galaxy') others are planting proprietary cultivars. 

Monday, March 18, 2019

Spring Caneberry Checklist 2019

Spring 2019 has been WET. But blackberry plants have broken bud are ready to start the season throughout the regoin. Chores and timing may be somewhat different in your area or for your cropping system.  
For IPM recommendations and general production practices, see the 2019 Southeast Regional Caneberry Integrated Management Guide.

The SRSFC production practices are in the Regional Caneberry Production guide (includes link to PDF format):
·      https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/southeast-regional-caneberry-production-guide
Crop phenology for IPM
The IPM guide above lists these stages of growth or planting age. This is the time of year we are now leaving (or have left a while ago!) the dormant period and by the time the next newsletter comes out, we will likely be harvesting in some locations.

·      Dormant (prior to budbreak)
·      Delayed dormant (swollen buds) to green tip
·      Shoots 6 inches long and before blooms open
·      Pre-bloom (when flower buds show white)
·      Early bloom (5-10%)
·      Full Petal
·      Cover sprays
·      Pre-harvest (14 days before anticipated harvest)
·      Harvest

Plant growth and development during the spring/summer
·      Plants deacclimate quickly
·      Bud differentiation (additional flowers can be formed)
·      Bud break
·      Flowering
·      Primocane emergence
Pruning and trellising
·      Finish pruning and make sure all floricanes are tied to the trellis before budbreak
·      Remove canes from field to minimize spread of diseases
·      Rotate shift trellises to horizontal position before budbreak; rotate to upright position immediately after flowering.
·      Prepare for flower to fruit monitoring (see http://teamrubus.blogspot.com/2015/03/monitoring-flower-to-fruit-development.html )

·      Weed growth can be very vigorous at the same time as the bramble crop peaks
·      Weed control is best done earlier in the season, with pre-emergent herbicides before harvest commences
·      Hand-weed perennial weeds in and around plots

Insect, disease and crop ripening
·      Growers with a history of cane diseases and/or mites often find that certain fungicides and oils are most effective just prior to bud break. The period of time in the spring when the plant is flowering is the most important season for control of insects and diseases. Know what your pests are and how to control them.
Water management
·      Test irrigation system and look for leaks
·      Caneberry plants need about 1”-2” water/week. This amount will be especially critical during harvest
Fertility management See Caneberry Production Guide

Marketing and miscellaneous

·      Service and clean coolers
·      Make sure you have enough containers for fruit in the coming season
·      Prepare advertising and signage for your stand
·      Contact buyers to finalize orders
·      Hire pickers
·      Prepare signage for field orientation; it is easier to tell pickers where to go if rows are numbered
·      Check buds and canes for cold damage (27°F is temperature that kills all stages of flower buds see http://teamrubus.blogspot.com/2016/04/damgage-to-blackberry-flowers-at-27f.html
·      Monitor and record peak flowering date for each variety every year. Then later during harvest, check your records for peak harvest of each variety.  Over time, it will help you to determine when your peak harvest will occur.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

WInter Caneberry Checklist

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.

This checklist is very general, but should help get you to think about what types of activities occur at various times of the year.
Check the items listed below off as they get done.

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 occurs in the flower buds (flowers continue to develop)
·                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: cronos/blackberry/chill_model
·                Developmental stages at this time of year as mentioned in the IPM guide http://www.smallfruits.org/assets/documents/ipm-guides/Caneberry-Spray-Guide.pdf
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 (6-8 ft 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. www.smallfruits.org
·                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.
·                Some growers are having success with biodegradable mulch to suppress the weeds the year of the planting

Insect and disease scouting
Check the Southern Regional Bramble Integrated Management Guide for recommendations. www.smallfruits.org
·                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 2020 plantings and order now. Smaller quantities of plants can be order in early 2019 for spring 2020 planting
·                A commercial small fruit nursery lists at 
    • www.raspberryblackberry.com/ for-growers/
    • https:// blogs.cornell.edu/berrynurseries/

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

For more detailed information, check the Southern Region Integrated Bramble Management Guide and the Southeast Regional Bramble Production Guide online version: https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/southeast-regional-caneberry-production-guide

Attend grower meetings
North Carolina Commercial Blackberry and Raspberry Association. Feb 15, 2019. 
Meeting will be held at the Cleveland County Extension Auditorium, 130 S. Post Rd; Shelby, NC 28152. Please arrive in time to set up prior to the start of the meeting. Contact Daniel Shires for more information. (704) 482-4365

Monday, January 28, 2019

12th Annual NC Commercial Blackberry and Raspberry Growers Association Meeting

Twelfth Annual NC Commercial Blackberry and Raspberry Growers Association Meeting
Friday February 15, 2019
Cleveland County Extension Office Auditorium
Shelby, NC 28152

8:45-9:00            Registration
9:00-9:05            Opening Remarks and Welcome, Ethan Lineberger NCCBRGA President
9:05-9:35             Blackberry Research Update, Karen Blaebow NCCE
9:35-9:45              New “App” Technologies , Heather Webb Faith Farms 

9:45-10:00            New Insecticide Update, Mike Cunnane FMC Agriculture Solutions

10:00-10:15         National Berry Crops Initiative, Debbie Wechsler

10:15-10:45         Weed Control Update, Wayne Mitchem NCSU

10:45-11:00          Break
11:00-11:30         Update on H2A Changes, Lee Wicker NC Grower’s Association
11:30-12:00          “Seasonal Changes in Leaf Nutrients in Single and Double Cropped Primacane Fruiting                  Systems, Dr. Gina Fernandez NCSU
12:00-1:00         Lunch and Vendor Visits     
1:00-1:45           NCCBRGA Business Meeting

1:45-2:15          H2A Housing Construction, Grower Panel Discussion Brent Brown, Wayne Mitchem and        Jeff Crotts

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Fall Caneberry Chores

Many of us in the south are recovering from the wrath of Hurricanes Florence and Michael. In parts of eastern NC, soils were saturated with the storm, and then had additional flooding as the rivers continued to fill with water from the tributaries. There is some information in the blog post on how to dealing with flooded berry fields http://teamrubus.blogspot.com/2018/09/hurricane-florence-2018.html.

In January, the North American Raspberry and Blackberry Association will be meeting in Savannah. This is looking to be a great meeting for growers and we expect many folks from the west coast to join us as well. Information on the program and registration is listed below.

Here are things to do for this season....

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 http://www.smallfruits.org
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 https://blogs.cornell.edu/berrynurseries/
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/ Southeast Regional Conference and Tradeshow, Savannah, GA
    • Sessions on blackberry, raspberry, and strawberry, blueberry, muscadines and more!
    • January 9-12, 2019, at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center

Key Resources:
Southern Region Integrated Bramble Management Guide:

Southeast Regional Caneberry Production Guide:

Blackberry and Raspberry Grower Information Portal:

Social Media links:
Twitter: @NCTeamRubus  
Facebook : Team Rubus   
Blogs: http://teamrubus.blogspot.com/