Thursday, May 30, 2013

Black Raspberry Research in NC (and OR, NY and OH)

Hi everyone, I’m Christine Bradish and I’m a PhD student here in the Rubus breeding program at North Carolina State University.  My research is part of a national USDA-SCRI sponsored grant that is taking place in Oregon (USDA-ARS), Ohio (OSU), New York (Cornell), and here in North Carolina (NCSU), and is focused on improving black raspberries for disease and insect-resistance, wider production ranges, and increased market awareness.  Black raspberries are native to North America and have been cultivated since the late 19th century; however diseases and a narrow gene pool has led to a severe decline in production over the last 75 years.  Currently, black raspberry production is focused in the Pacific Northwest and the berries are used in processed products, such as jams, jellies, ice creams, and baked goods.

Black raspberries harvested from Jackson Springs, NC on May 29, 2013.
As part of the project, we have identical plantings of 275 black raspberry plants at locations in all four states.  The fields were planted in April 2012, and will be evaluated through 2014.  My responsibility is to take data on approximately 40 different traits for each plant, ranging from heat tolerance and disease resistance to fruit size and thorn shape.  An example of the levels of a trait, fruit set is below. 
Measuring fertility of plants: poor fruit set (above)  versus fully fertile fruit (right). 

Yesterday was exciting, because we had our first harvest!  The fruit is as good as it looks. I along with the rest of the group of scientists involved in this research will be providing updates throughout this project, as we start to learn more about this exciting crop.

We have a website linked to this project:

Here is the USDA NIFA page:


  1. Curious as to the varieties being trialed?

    1. Hi there, the purpose of this project actually has the dual purpose of evaluating how black raspberry performs in these different locations, and also to map the genes for aphid resistance. Therefore, the 275 plants are the first generation population of a cross between an aphid resistant and an aphid susceptible black raspberry. However, within the field, we have planted the older varieties 'Munger', 'Mac Black', and 'Jewel' as checks to see how they perform in comparison to our population.

    2. Nice! Thanks for explaining :-) and Nice harvest photo recently!