Monday, December 9, 2013

Blackberry and Raspberry Seasonal Checklist Winter 2013-4

Blackberry and Raspberry Seasonal Checklist
Winter 2013-14
Gina Fernandez, Small Fruit Specialist
North Carolina State University

This checklist was originally developed for blackberry growers in North Carolina. Many of the items apply to raspberry production as well. You may have to adjust your work activities either earlier or later depending on your location. For more detailed information, check the Southern Region Integrated Bramble Management Guide and the Southeast Regional Bramble Production Guide at:

Check the items off as they get done. This list is very general, but should help get you to think about what types of activities occur at various times of the year. If you would like other items to be added to this list, send them to me and I will add them next time.

Plant growth and development
Plant is not visibly growing during the winter months although many blackberries will retain their leaves through the winter
Some differentiation is occurring in the flower buds
Low chilling cultivars can break bud in January after adequate winter chilling. You can monitor chilling hours accumulated in eight states in the eastern US by accessing this site:
Developmental stages for IPM guide:
1. Dormant
2. Delayed dormant (swollen bud) to green tip

Pruning and trellising
Pruning should occur in late winter.  However, in some areas winter ice storms can do tremendous damage to plants and trellis systems. If you produce blackberries in one of these areas, pruning can take place early winter to help avoid severe damage.
Make trellis repairs after plants have defoliated but before pruning and training.
Erect types
Prune out the spent floricanes
Tie canes to wires in a fan shape
Cut lateral branches back to 8-12”
Thin canes to 6-8 canes/ hill (4 ft spacing)
Trailing types
Prune out spent floricanes
Tie or weave canes to wire so that they do not overlap
Prune side laterals to 12-18”
Thin canes to 6-8 hill (6-8ft spacing)
Primocane fruiting raspberries and blackberries
Prune (mow) primocane fruiting types to ground level

Weed control
Check the Southern Regional Bramble integrated Management Guide for recommendations.
Many summer weed problems can be best managed in the fall and winter using preemergent herbicides. Determine what weeds have been or could be a problem in your area. Check with local extension agent for cultural or chemical means to control these weeds.

Insect and disease scouting
Check the Southern Regional Bramble integrated Management Guide for recommendations.
Scout fields for insect and disease damage and remove those canes
Remove wild blackberries and raspberries by the roots if they are within 600 ft of your planting during the winter

Take soil tests to determine fertility needs for spring plantings.
There are some new raspberry and blackberry cultivars available each year. If you have not tried them or it is not know how they will do in your region, it is best to order a small quantity to see how well they will perform in your area
For larger growers, prepare list of cultivars for 2015 plantings and order now. Smaller quantities of plants can be order in early 2014 for spring 2014 planting
A commercial small fruit nursery list at

Water management
Make repairs to irrigation system (check pumps, lines, etc)
Plants generally do not need supplemental water in winter

Marketing and miscellaneous
Order containers for next season
Make contacts for selling fruit next season
Attend grower meetings:
o The 2014 North American Raspberry & Blackberry Conference Meeting
January 27-29, 2014 in Hershey PA.
o 2014 SE Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference
Jan 9-12, 2014 Savannah GA
o The North Carolina Commercial Blackberry and Raspberry Growers Association
Feb 6, 2014.  Shelby NC. For more information contact or Josh Beam <>

For more information on growing caneberries see:

Monday, December 2, 2013

NABG Research Foundation RFP 2014

Small Fruit Researchers,

Do you have some raspberry or blackberry research that is in need of some funding? The NARBG - Research Foundation will be reviewing proposals for 2014 funding.  Proposals are due Dec 20, 2013.

We are in the process of updating the website, so we are not taking proposals via the website. PLEASE send proposals as PDF files to me,

Please share this blog post with others that that may be interested in this opportunity.


Request for Proposals for 2014 Funding

The North American Bramble Growers Research Foundation (NABGRF) Inc. seeks proposals for bramble research for the year 2014. All bramble proposals will be considered, however special consideration will be given to proposals related to the following specific priorities established for this round of funding:

Pest Management Strategies
• Management and biology of Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD)
• Management and biology of Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB)
• Management (?) of Agrobacterium tumefaciens (crown gall)
• Evaluate new insecticides (pesticides) for blackberry and raspberry production.

Production Efficiency and Profitability
• Management of blackberries and raspberries in tunnels (pruning, training and trellis systems)
• Post-harvest handling for small farmers

Cultivar Development and Testing
• Germplasm development

Special Needs

Since 1999, NABGRF has funded a total of 66 proposals totaling $167,353. Funding for individual projects is expected to range from $2000-$5000. In order to expedite the process, we ask that your request stay within this range. Please note that the NABGRF does not  pay overhead or "indirect" costs. The major source of funds for NABGRF's research grants is contributions by nurseries to NABGRF's Nursery Contribution Program, initiated in 2007. The Foundation very much appreciates their support

Proposals will be reviewed by the Research Committee of the NABGRF by the next North American Raspberry & Blackberry Association annual meeting, January 27, 2014 in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The Research Committee will forward their recommendations to the NABGRF Board of Trustees. Final funding decisions are made by the Board of Trustees. Awards will be sent out in March 2014. For more information, email either of the NABGRF  Research Co-Coordinators, Gina Fernandez and Jeff Chandler.

The deadline for proposals is December 20, 2013.

Proposal Guidelines

Sending Proposals: Email your proposal as a PDF file to by the deadline above. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

2014 Caneberry meetings on the East Coast

There will be 2 grower meetings in January for blackberry and raspberry (and other berry). The first meeting is a regional meeting of the North American Raspberry and Blackberry Association. This meeting will be held in conjunction with the SE Regional Fruit and Vegetable Expo in Savannah GA. 

Later in January, NARBA will hold is national meeting in conjunction with the SE Regional Vegetable and Fruit Confernce in Hershey PA.

The North Carolina Commercial Blackberry and Raspberry Association has not set a date, but usually meets in February.  More details will be posted here once that program is confirmed.

Regional NARBA meeting Savannah GA

Thursday, 1/9 through Friday, 1/10/14 (All Day Event) 
Where:Savannah GA
Blackberry and raspberry sessions will be held on Thursday and Friday January 9 and 10, 2014. 
For more information see:

NARBA meeting/Hershey

Monday, 1/27 through Wednesday, 1/29/14 (All Day Event) — 2 months away
Where:Hershey PA
2014 North American Raspberry & Blackberry Conference
The North American Raspberry & Blackberry Conference will be held in Hershey, PA, January 27-29, 2014 in association with the MidAtlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention. The Berry Conference starts with workshops, roundtable discussions, and educational sessions on Monday, January 27, followed by a day-long tour on Tuesday, January 28, and a full day of educational sessions and networking on January 29. Though there are no caneberry sessions on January 30 the MAFVC continues with many educational programs. The conference includes a large trade show.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Processing types of blackberries and raspberries dominate plant sales in 2012-13

Meeker is the predominate cultivar grown in Washington.
Meeker red raspberry. photo:
Ever wonder what the most widely planted berry cultivars were in the past year?  Dr. Pat Moore, WSU raspberry and strawberry breeder, contacted some of the larger participating nurseries to obtain plant sale inventories in the past year. (Lassen Canyon Nursery, Norcal Nursery, North American Plants, Northwest Plant Co., Nourse Farms, & Spooner Farms).

Raspberry: During the 2012-13 planting season, raspberry plant sales were dominated by the cultivar Meeker. It counted for almost over 40% of sales from the major nurseries. Meeker is the standard variety that is used in the PNW processing industry since its release in 1967, over 40 years ago. Wakefield, a variety from New Zealand ranks 2nd overall.

Blackberry: Black Diamond is the most popular blackberry in terms of plants sales, with plants sales of 42% in the PNW region.  Black Diamond is also a variety that is adapted to machine harvest.

Cultivars that are commonly grown and recommended for the SEUS represent a much smaller piece of the berry pie.

To see the complete list go to

Monday, October 28, 2013

Repost of National Weather Service Tools and Speaker Topic for SE Strawberry EXPO

The SE Strawberry Expo (a joint meeting held by the North American Strawberry Association and the NC Strawberry Association) will be held Dec 3-6, 2013 in Durham NC. One of the featured speakers will be Darin Figurskey of the National Weather Service. I met with him last year and he showed me some great features that could be used by growers.

Here is what he said he will talk about at the expo:

"Right now, a very high-level agenda would be where to get access to NWS forecast products, especially temperature, humidity, wind products, as well as a brief discussion of late freeze events and the signals forecasters look for to predict them.  I'll also likely share long-term climate trends in the region and the seasonal outlook."

This information can be useful for any berry crop. For examples of what he may talk about, see below:

See this post for examples of NWS tools:

for information about the strawberry meeting go here

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Finding QTL's for chilling requirement and prickle free raspberries

Cuttings from NCQ mapping population used to determine chilling requirement,  cuttings were taken at regular intervals from the plants, then put in the greenhouse misted. Each cutting was then monitored to see when bud break occurred, chilling hours ranged from 200 to 1600 hours in this population.  
Ramon Molina-Bravo, PhD, a former student in our lab recently had a paper published on some of his research in the scientific journal Molecular Breeding, the article is:
"Quantitative trait locus analysis of tolerance to temperature fluctuations in winter, fruit characteristics, flower color, and prickle-free canes in raspberry"

So, for those of you not inclined to read this type of article, what he found were locations on the raspberry linkage groups (think chromosomes) that were associated with both high and low chilling as well as prickle free (no thorns). This means that we are closer to being able to screen seedlings for these traits before they go out to the field. However, we still need a "few" more years to make this a trait that can be quick and cost effectively screened.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Another new blackberry PA Freedom thornless primocane-fruiting blackberry

‘Prime-Ark® Freedom’ is the world’s first primocane-fruiting and thornless commercial blackberry introduction. It is intended primarily as a home garden or local-market plant. For more information, check out this link and You Tube video.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Blackberry and Raspberry Seasonal Checklist Fall 2013

Blackberry and Raspberry Seasonal Checklist Fall 2013
Gina Fernandez, Small Fruit Specialist, North Carolina State University

The cool and wet summer in NC and other parts of the southern US during the summer may impact how you manage your crop this fall. In particular, see notes below in fertility management.

Plant growth and development
Primocanes continue to grow but slow down.
Flower buds start to form in leaf axils on summer-fruiting types.
Carbohydrates and nutrients in canes begin to move into the roots.
Primocane leaves senesce late fall.
Primocane fruiting types begin to flower in late summer/early fall and fruit matures until frost in fall
Primocane harvest continues until frost
If harvesting, maintain SWD spray schedule
Pruning and trellising
Spent floricanes should be removed as soon as possible
Optimal time to prune is after the coldest part of the season is over. However pruning can start in late fall if plantings are large (late winter for smaller plantings).
Start trellis repairs after plants have defoliated
Weed management
Many summer weed problems can be best managed in the fall and winter using preemergent herbicides. Determine what weeds have been or could be a problem in your area. Check with your states agricultural chemical manual and local extension agent for the best-labeled chemicals to control these weeds.
Insect and disease scouting
Continue scouting for insects and diseases.
Remove damaged canes as soon as possible to lessen the impact of the pest.
Check the Southern Regional Bramble integrated Management Guide for recommendations.
Also check out Hannah Burrack’s blog.  She posts timely information on insects of interest.
Growers in warmer areas (e.g. extreme southeastern NC) can plant in December.  Preparations for winter planting should have already been made. If you have questions about winter planting please contact your local county extension agent
In cooler areas, prepare list of ­cultivars for next spring’s new plantings. Find a commercial small fruit nursery list at­nurseries
Make sure you send in leaf tissue samples to determine if there are any nutrient deficiencies. According to Dr. Carl Crozier, NCSU soil scientist “nitrogen management could be even more unpredictable than usual. Depending on timing of N, the nature of the soil profile, and the crop management (including mulching) system; excess water may have enhanced deeper N movement and/or N runoff or denitrification losses, and an elevated water table may have restricted crop rooting.”
Take soil tests to determine fertility needs for spring plantings.
Non-nitrogenous fertilizers are best applied in the fall to established plantings.
If soil is bare, plant an overwintering cover crop (e.g. rye) to build organic matter and slow soil erosion.
Marketing and miscellaneous
Order containers for next season
Make contacts for selling fruit next season

Make plans to attend Grower meetings! Blackberries and raspberries are part or all of these programs.
-NARBA late January, 2014 in Hershey, PA, with the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Conference.
-Southeast Regional Conference and Tradeshow, with sessions on blackberry
January  2014, at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center

Key Resources:
Southern Region Integrated Bramble Management Guide and the Southeast Regional Bramble Production Guide:

Blackberry and Raspberry Grower Information Portal:

Social Media links:
Twitter: @NCTeamRubus  
Facebook : Team Rubus  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Nursery list for Von blackberry

Nurseries licensed to propagate ‘Von’ blackberry*

AgriStarts, Inc.
1728 Kelly Park Road
Apopka, FL 32712
Tel.: (407) 889-8055
Fax: (407) 889-2523

North American Plants, INC (S,P)
P.O.Box 743, Lafayette,
Oregon 97127
877-NAP-INFO (627-4636)
Fax: 503-474-0872

*As of 1 September 2013

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Late Summer Fertility in Blackberry

Here is a re-post from last year, its almost time for you to take your leaf tissue samples

Now is the time to do some tissue sampling in blackberry. Plant tissue samples will help you determine needs and adjustments. IN NC, samples should be taken after fruit harvested from the plants. Leaves from the 3-5th node of the primocane plant should be sampled and sent to NCDA and they will make recommendations for the following season. Keep your records so you can see if there are trends in your fields. Below are the recommended levels of macro and micronutrients.

More about how to determine most recently matured leaf (MRML) is at

 Nutritional Status change for primocane MRML about 10 days - 2 weeks after harvest








Monday, August 5, 2013

SRSFC Agent Training: Caneberry Viruses

County Extension Agent Training on Management of Viruses in Caneberries
July 29-30, 2013
Co-Sponsored by SRSFC and SCRI Grant “Management of Viruses in Rubus”
Asheville, NC
Christine Bradish, PhD Student, Horticultural Department, NC State University

A training event updating agents within the SRSFC on viruses in caneberries was held in western North Carolina from July 29-30, 2013.  The event was graciously organized by Elena Garcia and Ioannis Tzanetakis of the University of Arkansas and Tom Monaco, SRSFC coordinator.  A total of 23 agents from the six member states along with a number of industry representatives, growers, and researchers attended the 2 day event.  The training consisted of several units of classroom instruction, farm tours, and hands-on instruction, providing participants with the most up-to-date information about how to prevent, diagnose and manage virus issues in blackberries and raspberries. 
Day one of the training was held at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station in Mills River, where participants were welcomed by center director Jeff Chandler and SRSFC coordinator Tom Monaco. The program began with a general overview of virus vectors and symptoms by virologist Ioannis Tzanetakis, followed by details on insect vectors discussed by entomologists Hannah Burrack,NC State University and Donn Johnson, University of Arkansas.  Terry Kirkpatrick, nematologist from University of Arkansas, described nematode vectors for caneberry viruses, and then agents were brought out to Gina Fernandez’s blackberry research plots to learn proper nematode soil sampling techniques through a hands-on team activity.      

The second day of training commenced with a blackberry farm tour hosted by Marvin Owings of Henderson County Extension Office and Gina Fernandez, NC State University.  The first stop was the family-run operation of Steve Dalton on Sugar Loaf Mountain.  Mr. Dalton and his family grow 11 acres of ‘Ouachita’, ‘Natchez’, ‘Prime-Ark 45’ and ‘Navaho’ for U-pick and Driscoll’s. Mr. Dalton recently received a grant that allowed them to plant raspberries on a trial basis and install a juicing operation.   Dalton stressed the importance of buying plants from a reputable source as his main way of keeping his plantings virus-free and healthy over many growing seasons.  The second farm site was Justus Farm in Edneyville, owned by Don Justus, a fourth generation apple farmer.  Mr. Justus has five acres of blackberries for U-pick and markets to Driscoll’s, and has first-hand experience with virus issues.  He spoke of his experience in prior years with buying infected nursery stock, and the losses he incurred with having to replant his fields.  The final stop on the farm tour was at a Driscoll’s commercial farm in Edneyville.  Farm manager Andy Brownlee explained that at that particular location, approximately 30 acres of raspberries and blackberries were being grown under high tunnels with additional acreage at other sites.  All of the growers spoke of labor being an issue, but Brownlee especially stressed the importance of maintaining employee efficiency and accountability.  It was evident from speaking with all the growers that viruses are an issue that they consider very important in their caneberries, and want to be the best informed that they can be to prevent and avoid them in their fields for as long as possible. 

After being treated to a genuine North Carolina barbeque lunch, the training wrapped up with a final classroom session held at the Henderson County Cooperative Extension Office.  Ioannis Tzanetakis informed participants about how to recognize viral symptoms, and updated them on the latest assays and resources available for testing viruses in caneberries.  Erich Rudyj from USDA-APHIS, and coordinator of the National Clean Plant Program, discussed how federal policies and monies work to ensure that virus-free plant stock is being propagated and readily available for growers.  Elena Garcia talked about virus-host interactions, and how the plant responds, symptomatically or otherwise, to an attack by a virus.  The afternoon ended with another team talk by Hannah Burrack and Donn Johnson focusing on integrated pest management practices that can be taken to prevent the spread of viruses through insect vectors.     

Powerpoint presentations from the training will be posted on the SRSFC website at http//

Friday, July 19, 2013

Von holding up in the wet weather

Von July 5, 2013
Von July 17, 2013

Last week we received a phone call from a large and long time blackberry grower here in NC. He has a 10 plant test plot of 'Von' and is comparing it to the 'Navajo', 'Ouachita' and 'Nachez' varieties from Arkansas. The extremely wet weather this summer has allowed him to make comparisons that we (NCSU) have not had the opportunity to make up to this time. The most important comparison is with 'Navajo' because it has a very similar harvest season to 'Von'. What the grower  found is that 'Von' has much greater tolerance to wet weather (superior firmness) under these conditions compared to the three Arkansas varieties.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Black Raspberry Research Project Video

In this video, Christine Bradish gives us a peek at what she is doing this summer in the field at the Sandhills Research Station in Jackson Springs, NC.!field-update-videos/c1rq7

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Managing blackberry harvest and health in the midst of a rainy and cool season UPDATED 7/11/13

In light of the wet weather and the forecast of more wet weather and a possible tropical storm next week, I asked for some recommendations from Specialists around the region. Here they are, I will update as more come in and and welcome comments.

Dr. Carl Crozier, Soil Science, NC State University

Nitrogen management could be even more unpredictable than usual. Depending on timing of N, the nature of the soil profile, and the crop management (including mulching) system; excess water may have enhanced deeper N movement and/or N runoff or denitrification losses, and an elevated water table may have restricted crop rooting. Plant tissue analysis could be useful in assessing crop status.

Dr. Gina Fernandez, Horticulture, NC State University

Yesterday, I was at a blackberry farm in eastern NC.  They were using a radar app (My Radar) to help determine when rain was coming. They were dodging rain showers the entire time, and with the help of the app they could determine if they should run a load of fruit into the packing shed, unload and by the time they were unloaded the shower had passed. There are several other apps that can pinpoint your location, so see what works best for your farm.

Another observation was that they said they would pick the fruit as long as the rain is not dripping off from the ends of the fruit. They also were covering the clamshells in the field with a layer of plastic to keep the rain out of the clamshell off the berries.

When you are tipping the primocanes, the smaller the diameter of the cane at pinching will minimize the  potential for cane blight infection. If you have to use a pruners, a fungicide  should be applied soon after the canes were cut. For more information see

Be sure to remove spent canes as soon as the fruit is harvested. Good air movement will be important to minimize disease pressure.

Dr. Penny Perkins, Post Harvest Handling NC State University

We're finding the (rotating arm) trellis is helping greatly with fruit quality in this rain.  I see a lot less 'bleed out' as rain sits far less on the fruit.  What the eastern NC grower is doing is very similar to what we're doing-dodging showers.  We're finding that the droplets from the wet fruit condense on the top (inside) of the clamshells, which for us is not a problem since we transfer to pints later.  I would think that placing clamshells in the cooler then turning on fans to move air would help more than anything to evaporate the condensation.

Although these high rainfall years are unusual, the trellis is proving itself to be a huge asset in boosting berry quality (less soft, less bleaching, less sour fruit, and much better fungicide contact on fruit itself).

Dr. Hannah Burrack, Entomology, NC State University

SWD is the greatest insect concern because rain limits both the ability to apply insecticides as well as their residual activity. I put a post on the strawberry portal this year discussing this issue:

In blackberries, Mustang Max has shown some decent residual activity following rain, so that would be the material I'd use if I anticipated a rainy week ahead. Delegate might be another option, but we have less information on its rain fastness.

Also important is good sanitation after rain. Fruit that is on the overripe side has been exposed to SWD longer and at greater risk of infestation. Overripe fruit is also softer, making it potentially more attractive to SWD. This fruit should be removed before harvest so that it doesn't make it into a clamshell.

Dr. Phil Brannen, Plant Pathology University of Georgia

Tell them to review the IPM spray guide at

Botrytis is the primary driver of their spray program at this point, but leaf spots and cane diseases will increase with this weather.  Without knowing more, I would suggest Switch for the next couple of applications.  We are observing substantial resistance development with other Botryticides, but at least one component of Switch will work.  They should send Botrytis samples to Clemson University for resistance profiling.  This will help them to better address which fungicides are active for the remainder of the season.  Turnaround is 72 hours.

Dr. Guido Schnabel, Plant Pathology,  Clemson University

Yes, we are able to process botrytis samples and screen for sensityvity to 7 classes of fungicides. (see previous blog post: