Friday, July 27, 2012

Blackberry Virus Project part 2

Last year I mentioned that NC State University was part of a USDA-SCRI grant "Mangement of Virus Complexes in Rubus". This is a multidiciplinary project that involves breeders, virologists and entomologists. The project aims are to: 1. Develop and validate diagnostic tests for the viruses involved in these complexes and transfer these validated tests to interested parties; 2. Identify candidate virus vectors based on virus genomics with greenhouse transmission testing; 3. Identify virus combinations capable of causing severe disease outbreaks, and; 4. Evaluate virus and vector resistance in Rubus germplasm; conduct field transmission tests to determine when viruses are being spread in the field and implement targeted control based on vector biology for management of the diseases and; 5. Communicate the results: Outreach, Education and Implementation for growers, extension agents, and agricultural consultants.

This is a collaborative project with the University of Arkansas, USDA-ARS in Corvallis, Mississippi State University and NC State University. For my part of this project, we are evaluating elite germplasm from 3 breeding programs at the institutions listed above. We sent plants to each other that we considered candidates for release as cultivars and planted them in spring of 2011. These selections were tested for viruses prior to being sent out and were considered to be free of known viruses. Within a year of planting, most of the selections that we have in NC were showing symptoms as is illustrated in the photos. This are a couple of examples of what we saw in our field at the Sandhills Research Station in Jackson Springs NC in May. The upper photo has small crinkled leaves and the lower plant (a different selection) has yellowing of the leaves. This just shows how varied virus symptoms can be in the same location.

For more hot off the press information on the virus identification part of this project, here is a link to a poster that will be presented next week at the ASHS meeting

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Post Harvest Agent Training

Dr. Penny Perkins-Veazie showing the portable cooler.
In late June 2012, Cooperative Extension Agents from NC, SC, VA, GA, TN and AR participated in a Small Fruit Post Harvest Training, sponsored by the Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium (SRSFC). The two day training consisted of classroom lectures, a demonstration of a cool bot cooling system and low cost hand washing station, a post harvest fruit evaluation, monitoring SWD lesson, a tour of research plots and a tour to a local farm. For more information on the training, see an article in the SRSFC newsletter at:

This training and others like it, provide agents with tools to help growers improve their berry production practices.

Ramon Returns!

Seminar Wed July 11, 2:00, 121 Kilgore Hall, NCSU campus

Ramón Molina-Bravo got his PhD from North Carolina State in the Department of Horticultural Science in 2009 under the advisory of Gina Fernandez and Bryon Sosinski. Currently, Ramón is working at the National University of Costa Rica as a visiting professor teaching courses in genetics and biotechnology and is in charge of coordinating research projects at the Molecular Biology Unit in the School of Agrarian Sciences. He is involved in several research projects in genetics, two of which have been setting the foundations for establishing a blackberry breeding program in Costa Rica.

Ramon was my PhD student and while he was working here in NCSU,  he coined the term "Team Rubus"  for our research group. Rubus is the genus name for blackberries, raspberries and related species. We are forever indebted to him for coming up with this clever name. We are proud that he has remained a part of Team Rubus.

Floricane fasciation summer update

Earlier this spring, we had a pruning demonstration in Rockingham Co. I took a picture of a floricane that had an unusual shaped cane, due to a condition called fasciation. Above is the same plant with fruit a couple weeks ago. The fruit although small in this, will have a normal shape when ripe.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Navaho and it's amazing basal buds produce a crop after a freeze

Navaho blackberry plant. Upper oval shows fruit on a primary bud from a floricane, flowers were damaged by the April freeze and few fruit developed. Lower oval shows fruit from a basal bud, where abundant fruit is ripening. 
Each year I continue to learn more about the amazing blackberry plant. Last week I visited a farm in western NC. The farm had experienced the same cold spell that many of the growers had during the April 10-12 night freezes. Nearly all of the flowers from the primary buds that were present sustained damage. In the photo above, the smaller oval at the top of the picture shows what remains of the crop from those primary buds. The lower oval shows fruit that has come from basal buds. Each year Navaho sends out some basal buds, but this year, there were many more basal buds and the grower will be able to realize a much better crop than had been expected from just the primary buds.