Monday, March 9, 2015

Monitoring flower to fruit development of blackberries

Several of you saw the talk  that Daniel Shires gave at the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers meeting in Savannah in January.  Last summer,  Daniel, me and an intern helped to set up a demonstration that could help growers determine when a variety would ripen. We set up the demonstration at Killdeer Farm in Kings Mountain and posted weekly updates here on Team Rubus Blog. Here is how you can do it this year at your farm.

All you need is some flagging tape and a permanent marker.

Step 1. When you think the field is in full bloom, find a flower that is on the outside upper portion of the canopy. This fruit will most likely continue to be easy to spot if not buried too far into the canopy.

Step 2. Cut a 12" piece of flagging tape and put the date on one end of the flag (we used numbers for our trials instead of dates as you can see below)

Step 3. Tie the flagging tape around the base of the flower. We suggest you do at least 3 flowers from the same variety at the same time. We lost many fruit to a number of mishaps before the fruit was ripe.

Step 4. Return to the flower on a weekly basis and monitor. Record stage of plant development. Examples of a few of the stages are below.

Step 5. Keep the records so you can compare how long it takes each year. After a few years, you will have a good idea how long it should take variety to ripen at your location once it is in full bloom.

If you don't want to keep track of all of the stages, make sure at the least that you have a date for full bloom and shiny/dull black.

We also suggest that you let your pickers know that they should NOT pick this fruit.

Example of a data sheet for recording the steps of blackberry development.

Flower full bloom

Green fruit

Red-green fruit

Red fruit

Shiny black fruit

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