Wednesday, May 30, 2012

White (grey or tan) drupelets

In the last few days I have had several calls and emails from growers concerned about white drupelets. Here are a few points that I have gleaned from experience and other articles (see links at the end of the post).
  • It is thought that this condition is caused by UV radiation and appears when there has been an sudden increase in temperatures.
  • Rainfall appears to make the problem worse, with sunlight on wet berries plus high temperatures. (We have had quite a bit rain in parts of NC lately).
  • This was thought to be a result of stinkbug damage many years ago. BUT not now.
  • Apache shows more of this problem than any other variety, but white drupelets have been seen on most of the Arkansas varieties. 
  • 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...

For more information see


Friday, May 18, 2012

Blackberry Crop after 2012 Freeze

Image 1. All flowers killed by 27F, no fruit developing, crop loss was significant with this variety.

Image 2. Only the early flowers were killed,  this variety will produce nearly a full crop. 
Yesterday I was in a farmers field in the Piedmont region of NC and took several pictures. As with many farms in NC, on the night of April 10, temperatures at this farm got down to 27F. This farmer grew several different varieties of blackberry. Some were in full bloom, while others did not have any open flowers. The early varieties that were in full bloom now look like the top photo, while later varieties only lost their king flowers/fruit.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rotating Cross Arm Trellis

RCA trellis with young untrained canes at Piedmont Research Station, 2011.
At our Piedmont Research Station, in Salisbury NC, we (Gina Fernandez and Penny Perkins-Veazie) have started evaluating the Rotating Cross Arm Trellis system. This project is in cooperation with Dr. Fumi Takeda, USDA-ARS. Dr. Takeda has been working on this system for many years and is helping us train and manage the canes on this trellis.

This year we are determining if row orientation will impact blackberry fruit quality. Row are orientated N-S and E-W. The set in the foreground is running  E-W while the second set of trellises in the background of this image runs N-S. We will be collecting yield data and post harvest attributes. We think that this type of trellis may improve fruit quality and yield.

This trellis system also has potential to enable growers to cover the plants in the winter or during spring frosts like the one we had this year. The trellis arms rotate, so the canes can be layed down and row covers could be placed over the trellis to protect the plants, similar to what is done in strawberries. Here is a picture of a field with the RCA in Ohio in the summer and winter.

The trellis was donated by Trellis Growing Systems (

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Michigan and New York Growers loose crops to cold temperatures

It looks like we are not the only ones hurt by the  cold snaps this spring. See this article from the American Fruit Grower for the story in Michigan and New York:

Last week I was talking to Courtney Weber, the berry breeder at Cornell. He was planting strawberries in the snow.

Fascinating Floricane Fasciation

During one of the pruning demonstration in March, we saw a plant with a very strange shaped cane. The cane was flattened from the ground up. This is called fasciation. According to the Royal Horticultural Society, fasciated stems are "produced due to abnormal activity in the growing tip of the plant."  The cause of most fasciations is not really understood.  It can be a result of injury,  physiological or genetic changes.

A very technical description can be found at: Some very interesting pictures of other plants can be found at: