Thursday, September 27, 2012

'Osage' a new blackberry from the Univ. Arkansas

If you have not yet heard, John Clark has released a new blackberry named 'Osage'. Here is a link for more information. We planted a few in our research plots this year, so will have some fruit to try next summer.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Berry demand increases, article in The Produce news

Although this is not news to most of us in the berry business... The author of this article has compiled some interesting statistics on all berries, including raspberry and blackberry domestic production and imports. Some examples from 2010:

- the US imported 13,927 metric tons of Mexican raspberries valued at $118,000,000.
- the US imported 442 metic tons of Canadian raspberries valued at $658,000.
- the US imported blackberries worth $147,300,000 vs 2006 value of $58,500,000.

Read more here:

Friday, September 14, 2012

National Weather Service has lots of data for your area

Earlier this week, I met with several folks from the National Weather Service at their offices in Raleigh. They wanted to know how growers across the state react to forecasts of frost and freeze, and how the NWS could improve its general services. In the process, we uncovered a useful tool that provides detailed weather information that could be very beneficial to area growers.

Using models and real time data, they are able to produce forecasts for areas in a 2.5 km area (that is about 1.5 mile). These forecasts include temperature, dew point, wind speed and direction, sky coverage (clouds), precipitation potential, relative humidity and more. You simply click on the location on a map for location and a page is generated with lots of information.

Today, after I went through the NWS Raleigh web page, I was interested in finding out what the wind speed, rain potential and low temperatures are expected this Saturday Sept 16 at 6 PM at the Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh (where NCSU is playing South Alabama).

First I went to and saw the page below: I clicked on central NC...

Then I clicked on the dot near Raleigh:

And this screen appeared :

Then in the above page, just off the screen above on the bottom right corner, there was a box titled "Hourly Weather Graph" I clicked on it and saw:

Viola! Looks like it will be 79 F at kick off, then cool off once the sun goes down (the image is fuzzy here, but is clear on the original site). The winds will be from the NE at 6 mph, very low chance of rain. So, it sounds like a very nice evening for a football game.

The folks at the NWS say that they are fairly confident with forecasts 6 hours from the current time. Also, in the western parts of the state of NC, there will be more variability in the accuracy of the forecasts for a particular site.

Now think how this may be of use in the spring when your buds are breaking and you need to know if there may be damage in the upcoming nights.  Will you have time to implement some type of protection for your crop? How much wind is expected, how fast will those temperature drop? Will there be cloud cover? They update this information every 3-4 hours, 24 hours a day.

We will be using this site to help us determine if we should lay down our trellises and put on row covers in our blackberry trials at the Piedmont Research Station. See earlier post on that trial:

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pack 'N Cool mobile chilling unit

Dr. Penny Perkins-Veazie and her team, at the NC State University Plants for Human Health Institute have developed a mobile chilling unit, called a Pack 'N Cool,  for farmers in need of a "smaller" trailer to haul produce to markets.

There is a full news release at the site below, with links to a step-by-step instruction on how to build the unit and a detailed budget. For more information click here:“pack-‘n-cool”-provides-farmers-with-mobile-refrigeration-solution/

This same unit was used as part of an Extension Agent Training earlier this year.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Spotted wing drosophila caught dead in its tracks

Ripe red raspberry with dead SWD stuck in the fruit.

This time of year is usually my favorite time to go to our research plots in the mountains. The temperatures are cooler, the humidity is dropping, and the fall-fruiting raspberries and blackberries are ripe.  It is usually great fun to evaluate and taste our advanced material that is in replicated trials in and out of tunnels. Well, this year, it is not that way. We are getting a double whammy this week, it rained 1.6" in 4 days, was very foggy in between rains so fruit was very soggy, even under the tunnels. AND to add a bit more misery to the soggy berry harvest, our current nemesis the Spotted wing drosophila (SWD) was present in all plots with a vengeance. In the photo above, a dead adult was stuck in a ripe fruit. YUK!

We are hopeful that the weather improves so that the rains and fog will not hamper our fruit production next week. SWD on the other hand, is a longer term problem. Fortunately we have a very dynamic researcher working on this insect, Hannah Burrack. For more on Dr. Hannah Burrack's work on SWD, check out her blog.