Thursday, April 5, 2012

Crop phenology, when things happen...

The southeastern US, like other parts of the country had a very mild winter. Many people are wondering if crops will be earlier than usual.  At this point blackberries and raspberries are a bit ahead of schedule, but we will not know until later this season, how far ahead of normal harvest will actually be, if at all. If you are a grower, you should have a notebook where you record dates of key phenological events. Some of these events are bud break,  bloom, primocane emergence, and harvest. Although at times it is hard to remember, this will help you determine when things happened in the past and will help you compare seasons and determine when fruit may ripen. I have included an example of 50% bloom and harvest dates for a number of cultivars. Although this technique is not foolproof it is a start and we hope to have more tools for you in the future to help you forecast harvest times for you. However, you will need the basic information that I listed above.

Flower buds on raspberry plant late March 2012

Here is some data from the University of Arkansas, showing bloom and harvest dates for a number of blackberry cultivars. The number of days from 50% bloom to peak harvest for Ouachita ranged from 43-61 days (yellow columns). This is quite a spread. While the number of days from first harvest to last harvest ranged from 34-41 days (blue columns). You can easily do the same.

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