Thursday, August 20, 2015

XIth International Rubus and RIbes Symposium puts the Carolinas on the map!

The XIth International Rubus and Ribes Symposium was held in Asheville, North Carolina, June 21-24, 2015. There was also a pre-sympsium tour of research sites and grower locations in NC and SC. We had 190 people registered by the end of the meeting and 80 people on the Pre-symposium tour, from 26 countries.

This meeting is held every 4 years in regions where these crops are grown. Since hand harvested blackberries are a newer crop, the Carolinas turned out to be a good location for the meeting. We were able to bring in researchers from the region that had not attended the meeting before, as well as veterans of Rubus Ribes. We had 50 oral presentation and 93 posters. NARBA sent Debby Wechsler and she will be writing up some articles about the meeting in future issues of the Bramble and other trade magazines. We are still preparing the official technical report (Acta Hort Proceedings), it will be published late in 2015. Some of the comments from the participants were:
"Best Rubus Ribes meeting ever"
"I learned something from every presentation" 
"This puts North Carolina on the Map"

If you want to learn more about the sites we visited and the talks presented, you can check our our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. They can be viewed at, and under  ‘RUBUSRIBES2015’ on Instagram.

Participants of the XI International Rubus and Ribes Symposium, June 21024, 2015, Asheville, NC.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Topics for NARBA Grower meetings in 2016

From the Executive Secretary of NARBA...Debby is looking for topics for the National and Regional meetings of NARBA to be held in Williamsburg in March 2016 and Savannah in January 2016.

This is a reminder that the planning committee for our March 2016 conference in Colonial Williamsburg, VA invites you to submit your suggestions for speakers and for topics for sessions and presentations at the conference.  Their first program-planning meeting is coming soon, on August 12, so I thought I'd re-send this and encourage you to respond.

What do YOU think the leading topics, important new research, and important concerns are in the caneberry industry? What's new, what would be useful?
What topic, presentation, or discussion  would bring YOU there?
You are also invited to put yourself forward as a potential speaker, panelist, or discussion leader -- whether you are in caneberry research/extension, a supplier or marketer, or a grower. 

Please email back your suggestions and proposals now, or if easier, give me a call at 919-542-4037.  If something occurs to you later, over the next few months, that is fine, too-- developing the program is a lengthy process.
We can't guarantee that anyone's ideas will be selected, and there will undoubtedly be budget considerations, but look forward to getting lots of new ideas and great presenters whose expertise we might not otherwise know or think about. 

Thank you!

Debby Wechsler
NARBA Exec Secretary

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

More on the heat and fruit harvest

As the temperatures look to be staying quite warm this week and next just as harvest are some thoughts.
-keep the plants irrigated, they are transpiring a lot with the heat. all that water is pulled up through the plants, and berries. 
-berries are 90% water, so as they increase in size this week, a lot of that size is due to water uptake
-harvest as early in the day as possible, to minimize soft and hot fruit.
-consider going to a night harvest? Its been done in grapes and apples. 

Heres how they do it in apples an article from good fruit grower. It might not work for you now, but something to consider.

Harvesting apples at night

Monday, June 15, 2015

Worlds Blackberry, Raspberry, Currant and Goosberry Experts coming to North Carolina

From June 19-24, North and South Carolina will be the hosts to the XIth International Rubus and Ribes Symposium. This is a group of scientists and industry professionals that come together every 4 years to share research findings, develop new collaborations, renew old friendships and talk about blackberries, raspberries, currants and gooseberries for almost a whole week non stop! To some of you this may sound boring, but to us, this is one of the highlights of our careers.

Why North Carolina? Well, the Rubus and Ribes group has not met in the US for over 30 years, and the last time was in the Pacific Northwest. Four years ago, when they were meeting in Serbia, the southern US was suggested because of the dynamic fresh market industry that had developed over the past few years.  The Rubus and Ribes Working Group asked and NC State University agreed to host the XI International Rubus and Ribes Symposium in 2015.

This meeting is being held in 2 parts. A smaller group (about 75 people) will take part in the Pre-Symposium Tour. Later this week, we will gather in Charlotte, NC and fan out for 3 days visiting growers and research facilities.  We will visit 5 farms, the NCDA&CS Research Station, and the Plants for Human Health Institute. Then we head up to Asheville for 3 days of scientific meetings with a half day break for local farm tours. We are expecting 170 people from 26 countries to attend the Symposium.

If you want to follow what is going on, the XIth International Rubus and Ribes Symposium is on Facebook (, Twitter (@rubusribes2015) (#rubusribes2015), Instagram (rubusribes2015), and Pintrest (rubusribes2015). Like, tweet, post and share with us.

This is an event held under the auspices of the International Society for Horticultural Science.

White Drupelets in caneberries 2015

Conditions are favorable for white drupelet this week. I have already gotten calls this morning and expect more as the day goes on. Here is a great explanation of White  from UC Davis/Mark Bolda

White drupelet is a tan-to-white discoloration of one to many drupelets on the fruit. Most often, white drupelets will appear when there has been an abrupt increase in temperature accompanied by a drop in humidity; it is especially pronounced when there is wind. In the Monterey Bay area, white drupelet typically occurs when temperatures that are fairly steady around 70°F suddenly go above 90°F, and there is an absence of fog.

While white drupelets may seem to be directly caused by weather, they are actually caused by ultra-violet (UV) radiation. Weather conditions modulate this by the effect they have on penetration of UV radiation into the fruit. Cool, humid air scatters and absorbs UV radiation, while hot dry air has the opposite effect and allows more direct UV rays to reach the fruit. The movement of humidity away from the canopy by wind only heightens the effect of hot dry air. Additionally, as humidity is moved away from the plant canopy, more UV rays penetrate the canopy and damage fruit that may not even have been exposed to the sun. Fruit inside of the canopy is not acclimatized to UV radiation and is subsequently more susceptible when it reaches them.

Some growers of caneberries in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, where rapid changes from a normally mild climate to temperatures up to and above 100°F occur through the summer, use overhead irrigation to minimize fruit loss to white drupelet. This is not merely to mist the fruit; instead, large amounts of water are applied to thoroughly wet the canopy and maintain cool temperatures and high canopy humidity for as long as possible. Sprinkling is not done too late in the evening to allow fruit to dry before nightfall.

While some varieties, such as Apache blackberry, Kiowa blackberry, and Caroline red raspberry tend to get white drupelets more frequently than others, almost all caneberry varieties are susceptible to white drupelet to some degree.

My additions:
  • Tolerance for white drupelet varies to some extent by grower. Growers that ship berries have no tolerance, while pick-your-own growers can tolerate a few white drupelets (see last point, educate your clientele).
  • White drupelet disorder is usually a problem early in the season and then disappears.
  • The berries are still edible, they make delicious pies, juice, ice cream...

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Bud removal to mimic freeze damage in the spring

This spring we set up demonstration trials at 2 locations in the state to monitor what would happen if we mechanically removed buds at critical times during flowering. We wanted to mimic what may happen when we get bud kill to flowers in the spring due to freezing temperatures. One of the trials is at the Sandhills Research Station in Jackson Springs, Josh Mays is overseeing the trial on the cultivar Ouachita. He removed buds at four times in the spring, has taken lots of data and lots of pictures. Here is a short video of what we saw today. He will be sharing more at grower meetings this upcoming year.

The other trial is at the Mitchem Farm in Vale NC. I'll post about that one later...