Thursday, June 23, 2011

International Rubus and Ribes Conference in NC in 2015

I just received word that the XI Rubus and Ribes Symposium will be held in 2015 in North Carolina. This event occurs every four years and brings together researchers, industry and growers involved with blackberry, raspberry, currant and gooseberry research in one location. This is a great meeting and we are honored to be chosen to host the meeting in 2015.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blackberry Yield Data

Growers that had hail damage to their blackberry crop this spring are trying to estimate their crop losses. I have been asked to provide recent yield data. We collected this data at the Piedmont Research Station from 2008-2010. Table 1 is our actual data, Table 2 is converted to yield per acre based on our original plant density.

I realize that the plants fill in the rows after you plant and that it may be hard to figure out how many plants there are per acre. However, for our purposes it is easier to present yield per plant based on the original planting density, e.g. plants were set 4 ft apart in the row and rows are 12 ft apart. This would be the equivalent of 907 plants per acre.  Keep in mind that there can be distortion of data as we multiply up from our 20 plants to 907. Your plant density may have been different and this will change the yield/acre. In addition, actual grower yields may be higher or lower and may vary due to trellis type, year to year yield variations, and other production practices.

Sorry about the quality of the print, pasting tables into blogger is not that easy. Contact me if you want a copy of this data in PDF form.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Blackberry harvest update...good news, bad news

We visited several farms over the past 2 days, starting with the Twilight Tour in Henderson County. Overall the crop is looking good and farmers are either gearing up to harvest or have been picking for a week or more. This year as is the case in most years, there is both good news and bad news. 

First the good news. In the past couple of years, the North Carolina growers had their crop ripen at the same time as Georgia. However, this year the Georgia crop has finished which means that most of the berries that are being shipped for the next couple of weeks will be from North Carolina! There should be abundant supplies in the local markets as well. 

Unfortunately for some growers, spotty hail storms over the past 2 weeks have damaged ripening fruit in the field. Currently, there is no tolerance for damaged fruit for shipping. So this means that some growers have had to find alternative markets for their damaged berries and some fields have had to be discarded.  The picture above shows some of the damage that occurred. The irony of this situation is that the fruit tastes great. 

There are promotions running in the chain stores this week and will be more in the upcoming weeks.  Now is the time to indulge in some fresh blackberry fruit snacks, salads and deserts.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Germplasm Expedition

Back in the 1940's-50's Carlos Williams, a professor at NC State University had a successful blackberry and raspberry breeding program. This program released the heat tolerant 'Mandarin' red raspberry (1955), and another red raspberry named 'Dixie (1938). He also released  'Manteo' black raspberry (1953), and two dewberry type of blackberries 'Cameron' (1938) and 'Carolina' (1955).

Old notes from his program indicated that he evaluated raspberry and blackberry germplasm at an old research facility called McCullers Research Station in southern Wake County.  However, in the 1950's the bramble breeding program was shut down and most of the germplasm was lost.  We think that he grew 'Mandarin' and other heat tolerant raspberries in this location.

As many people know, wild brambles tend to spread out and become established in forest and field edges. Last week we went on a germplasm expedition to McCullers Crossroads to see if we could find any wild escapes that may have persisted over the decades. We thought that maybe we could find some other heat tolerant raspberry plants or maybe an erect blackberry in a ditch or along a fenceline? But, we found neither one. We found semierect blackberries that could be related to cultivated types that would have been included in the trials there. These had characteristics that suggested that they had 'Himalaya Giant' in their genetic background, like the 'Williams' cultivar released from professor Williams' program. We also found trailing types on one roadside that were similar to 'Carolina' dewberry.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Blackberry Twilight meeting in Henderson Co. June 16

Who: The Henderson County Commercial Blackberry Growers (and surrounding counties)

What: Twilight Blackberry Meeting

When: Thursday, June 16, 2011 at 6:30 PM

Where: Steve Dalton's Farm, 756 Dalton Trail Dr., Hendersonville, NC 28792 (Sugarloaf Mtn.)

Dr. Gina Fernandez, Small Fruit Specialist, Horticultural Science Dept., NCSU will discuss current cultural practices.

Dr. Hannah Burrack, Small Fruit Entomology Specialist, Entomology Dept. NCSU will discuss insect issues, in particular, the Spotted Wing Drosophila Flies (new soft fruit insect).

Grower, Steve Dalton, will discuss his operation, this seasons growing conditions, plus a tour of his new walk in cooler.

Marvin Owings, Interim County Extension Director, update on Cane Blight Disease in the county.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

App to find local berries

Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) has an iPhone"App" to help you locate local produce, including blackberries, raspberries and other fruit.  I tested it out and found four farms producing berries within 25 miles of Raleigh.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Blackberries (and Raspberries) Need Water

Did you know that blackberries are almost 90% water? 

During the harvest season, blackberries and raspberries need at least an inch of water a week. In years like this one, especially in parts of central and eastern NC, growers need to irrigate their berries to insure that they produce a plump juicy berry!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Blackberry Virus Project

NC State University is part of a multi-state team that is trying to identify and control viruses that are a concern to blackberry growers in the region. The symptoms can be wide ranging. Some plants have smaller distorted leaves like the leaves in the photo above. While others have leaf discoloration, fruit distortion or a combination of these traits.
This project is headed up by researchers at the University of Arkansas. For more information see Photo: Gina Fernandez.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Blackberry and Raspberry Portal

Check out the NC Market Ready Blackberry and Raspberry Portal. It is designed to be a one stop shop for "all" (almost all?) things you need to know to grow blackberries and raspberries in NC.  There are links to production and IPM guides, marketing information, budgets and much more.

Today we posted a checklist for chores that need to be done in the crop this summer. This list is updated and posted every 3 months. Previous lists are available and there is a RSS link so you can have the list automatically sent to you.