Friday, April 10, 2015

New blueberry genomics/breeder making his first cross

Jim Ballington showing Hamid Ashrafi how to make a blueberry cross.
I witnessed a bit of history today. Jim Ballington showing Hamid Asrafi, the new NCSU blueberry genomics professor how to make a blueberry cross.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Monday, March 9, 2015

Monitoring flower to fruit development of blackberries

Several of you saw the talk  that Daniel Shires gave at the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers meeting in Savannah in January.  Last summer,  Daniel, me and an intern helped to set up a demonstration that could help growers determine when a variety would ripen. We set up the demonstration at Killdeer Farm in Kings Mountain and posted weekly updates here on Team Rubus Blog. Here is how you can do it this year at your farm.

All you need is some flagging tape and a permanent marker.

Step 1. When you think the field is in full bloom, find a flower that is on the outside upper portion of the canopy. This fruit will most likely continue to be easy to spot if not buried too far into the canopy.

Step 2. Cut a 12" piece of flagging tape and put the date on one end of the flag (we used numbers for our trials instead of dates as you can see below)

Step 3. Tie the flagging tape around the base of the flower. We suggest you do at least 3 flowers from the same variety at the same time. We lost many fruit to a number of mishaps before the fruit was ripe.

Step 4. Return to the flower on a weekly basis and monitor. Record stage of plant development. Examples of a few of the stages are below.

Step 5. Keep the records so you can compare how long it takes each year. After a few years, you will have a good idea how long it should take variety to ripen at your location once it is in full bloom.

If you don't want to keep track of all of the stages, make sure at the least that you have a date for full bloom and shiny/dull black.

We also suggest that you let your pickers know that they should NOT pick this fruit.

Example of a data sheet for recording the steps of blackberry development.

Flower full bloom

Green fruit

Red-green fruit

Red fruit

Shiny black fruit

Monday, February 23, 2015

It was cold out there, but no evidence of damage to the floral buds.

Ouachita bud sliced open lengthwise after one night of 10 F, Feb 19, 2015. No damage evident.

Ouachita buds, from same field on second night, when temps were 10 again. No damage evident.
Last week, we had record low temperatures in parts of North Carolina. At a farm in western NC, near Shelby, a grower cut samples after two consecutive nights of cold temperatures. He brought me Ouachita because its buds were a bit more swollen than Navaho.

We saw this last year, the center of the Navaho bud is blackened. So, you need to look closely.
Navaho bud showing blackened center, this is damaged.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

It's going to be cold out there!

Field of 'Nantahala' red raspberry in western NC.

Much of the eastern part of the US has had a cold and in some parts, snowy winter of 2014-15. The upcoming nights in North Carolina are predicted to be cold, and in some places records are at risk of being broken. I'll be visiting fields in western NC over the next few days both before and after the cold temperatures and will keep you posted on what we have seen. 

Please search this blog for more information on cold damage. 
here are some links from the past:

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

NC Commercial Blackberry and Raspberry Growers Association Meeting

You are invited to attend the Eighth annual NCCBRGA meeting. As always we have an interesting and educational program scheduled. The meeting will be held in the Cleveland County Extension Auditorium at 130 S. Post Rd. Shelby, NC 28152.  In order to plan for the meal you will need to RSVP by March 6th by calling 704-482-4365. If you have any questions, need directions or if you would like to sponsor the meeting, feel free to call. There will be a $12 registration fee for the meeting. We will also be collecting, 2015 NCCBRGA annual membership dues. Make sure to thank and visit our numerous sponsors, which will be set in the back of the auditorium!
Below is a copy of the agenda.

Eight Annual NC Commercial Blackberry and Raspberry Growers Association Meeting
Wednesday March 11, 2015
Cleveland County Extension Office Auditorium
Shelby, NC 28152


8:45-9:00            Registration
9:00-9:05            Opening Remarks and Welcome. Daniel Shires, NC Cooperative Extension
9:05-10:00          Ins and Outs of H2A Worker Program, Dan Bremer AgWorksInc
10:00-10:15        Break
10:15-11:15        “Making the Grade” Blackberry Fruit Quality and Grading, NCDA&CS
11:15-12:00        Legislative Update for your Farm, Debbie Hamrick NC Farm Bureau
12:00-1:00          Lunch and Vendor Visits
1:00-1:20            Impacts of Herbicide Strip Width, Wayne Mitchem NCSU
1:20-1:50            Blackberry Pesticide Updates, Andy Rollins Clemson Extension
1:50-2:15            Blackberry Bloom to Ripe Study, Daniel Shires NCCE
2:15-3:00            New Blackberry Varieties for Replant Considerations, Gina Fernandez, NCSU
3:00                    Adjourn