Thursday, December 15, 2016

National Strawberry Survey

Strawberry growers, please take some time to fill out this survey. It will help a large group of strawberry researchers and extension personnel develop a grant.

Fore a bit more detail:

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

North American Bramble Growers RFP

Caneberry Researchers:

It is an exciting time in the caneberry world as production continues to grow. With the growth, there is an increasing need for research to optimize the growth of this demanding crop. Do you need some $ to get a project started? Here is your opportunity for some seed money...

The RFP for the 2017 North American Raspberry and Blackberry Association is out, see the link below. The deadline for this years proposal is Dec 21, 2017 (one more thing to add to your list of year end proposals and reports). Please pass this on to others at your institutions that may be interested (entomologists, pathologists, weedologists, post harvest, food scienctists, economists). I have tried to include some of their names in the email above, but it is not complete, especially if you are not on the south/east coast. 

Note, although the NARBA meeting is taking place next week, the NABG RF (the research arm of NARBA) is not meeting until Jan in Savannah. Contact me if you have any questions. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fall Caneberry Chores 2016

Blackberry and Raspberry Seasonal Checklist Fall 2016
Gina Fernandez, Small Fruit Specialist, North Carolina State University

Many of us are recovering from the wrath of Hurricane Matthew. I posted some information on the Team Rubus Blog prior to the storm.  In parts of eastern NC, soils are saturated and there is still a threat of additional flooding as the rivers continue to fill with water from the tributaries. There is some information in the blog post on how to dealing with flooded berry fields.

The NC State University Extension has a new look to their portals. Check out the Blackberry and Raspberry Portal here.

The Northwest Berry Foundation has a great newsletter that focuses on production issues in the Pacific Northwest. However, they pull information from a range of sources, and many of the articles are relevant for all berry growers. It comes out on a weekly basis during the production season and less often during the off-season. Here is a link to the most current newsletter. therea are a couple of articles on labor situations on the west coast.

Plant growth and development
ü  Primocanes continue to grow but growth rate is slower
ü  Flower buds start to form in leaf axils on summer-fruiting types
ü  Carbohydrates and nutrients in canes begin to move into the roots
ü  Primocane fruiting types begin to flower in late summer/early fall and fruit matures until frost in fall
ü  Primocane leaves senesce late fall
ü  Primocane-fruiting raspberry harvest
ü  Primocane-fruiting blackberry harvest
Pruning, trellising and tunnels
ü  Spent floricanes should be removed as soon as possible
ü  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).
ü  Start trellis repairs after plants have defoliated
ü  Remove covers on three-season tunnels
Weed management
ü  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
ü  Continue scouting for insects and diseases
ü  Remove damaged canes as soon as possible to lessen the impact of the pest
ü  Check the Southern Regional Bramble integrated Management Guide for recommendations
ü  Growers in warmer areas (e.g. extreme southeastern NC) can plant into early December.  Preparations for winter planting should have already been made. If you have questions about winter planting please contact your local county extension agent
ü  In cooler areas, prepare list of ­cultivars for next spring’s new plantings. Find a commercial small fruit nursery list at
ü  Take soil tests to determine fertility needs for spring plantings.
ü  Non-nitrogenous fertilizers are best applied in the fall to established plantings.
ü  If soil is bare, plant an overwintering cover crop (e.g. rye) to build organic matter and slow soil erosion.
Marketing and miscellaneous
ü  Order containers for next season
ü  Make contacts for selling fruit next season

Make plans to attend Grower meetings! Blackberries and raspberries are part or all of these programs.
  • North American Berry Conference, Grand Rapids MI
    • December 4-6, 2016.  Because the Great Lakes Expo is held in December, we actually have TWO conferences in one calendar year — this December meeting will replace our Winter 2017 conference, which would typically be held in January or February.
    • This year NARBA is meeting jointly with the North American Strawberry Association (NADSGA), in association with the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, and Farm Market Expo in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
    • This is a highly regarded regional meeting that attracts more than 4000 participants and 450 exhibitors. It is one of the largest trade shows for fruit and vegetable growers, greenhouse growers and farm marketers in North America!
  • Southeast Regional Conference and Tradeshow, Savannah, GA
    • Sessions on blackberry and strawberery, blueberry, muscadines and more!
    • January 5-8, 2017, at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center
    • Registration and program information can be found at
    • Video of past conference

Key Resources:
Southern Region Integrated Bramble Management Guide:

Southeast Regional Bramble Production Guide:

Blackberry and Raspberry Grower Information Portal:

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

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Hurricane Matthew Preparation for Caneberries

The latest forecasts have Hurricane Matthew just skidding the southeastern coast of NC. Caneberry Growers in Eastern NC (and the rest of the southeastern US) should be preparing their fields now and be prepared after the rains leave.

Here are some things that can be done before the storm:

IF YOU ARE IN AN AREA WITH HIGH PREDICTED WINDS: You should consult with your tunnel manufacturer to determine how much wind your tunnels can withstand. Removing or skinning the plastic off the tunnels  is a whole lot less costly than having the entire tunnel mangled.

IF YOU HAVE A SHIFT OR ROTATING ARM TRELLIS: Lay the trellis in the horizontal or down position and make sure it can stay in that position. Some trellises do not have the capability to lock in the horizontal position. If that is the case, it may be better in the upright position.

POTENTIAL FOR ELEVATED DISEASES: Canes if properly trellised should not lodge as a result of the wind and rain. However, there may be some physical damage to canes. Make sure you walk your fields before and after the storm. There may be a need to do some extra pruning and use of a fungicide if you can get out into the field after the storm. Phil Brannen, UGA plant pathologist recommends a spray for Cane blight, before the storm. See the SRSFC for recommended chemicals.

After the hurricane passes there may be some soils that have flooded. Here is some information from a previous post from Cornell University. Since most of the berry crops have already been harvested, we are primarily concerned with flooded fields effects on roots.

This is an excerpt form an article is provided courtesy of Cornell University. It was written for flooding situations in the northeast in the late summer. However,  a flooded field poses similar problems for plant survival and is still an issue in the fall, as plants are not yet dormant. 

Steve Reiners and Marvin Pritts
Dept. of Horticulture
Cornell University


How long a crop can live once it is flooded and what may be the effect on yield? Berry crops can tolerate a great deal of flooding when they are dormant, but when actively growing in summer, flooding for any length of time can be detrimental. This time of year is particularly bad because plants are preparing to make flower buds for next year, and stress can compromise this process. If plant roots were under water for more than 48 hours, expect next year’s crop to be compromised as well.

Plants previously flooded may develop an off-green or yellowish color.  These plants are suffering from a complex of nutrient deficiencies, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and perhaps others, even though the soil contains adequate amounts. But the main deficient element is oxygen. Plant roots need oxygen to take up nutrients and water to utilize the photosynthate from the tops and to grow. With the heavy rains we have had, soils are saturated; that is, nearly all of the pore space is filled with water, leaving little room for air. Ideally, for good root growth 50 percent of the pore space should be filled with air. As soils drain, air is drawn into the soil, but when it rains, the water forces the air out of the pores. As is obvious to all, what is needed now is several rain-free days so the soils can drain and draw in air to stimulate root growth and help disperse toxic compounds that accumulate when plants lack oxygen.  Once the plant roots get adequate oxygen they will begin to grow and take up the nutrients present in the soil. Anything that can be done to remove surface water will be helpful.

Many plant diseases will be much worse following flooding rains (e.g. Phytophthora and Botrytis), so closely monitor crops and manage these diseases. Phytophthora spores are spread under flooded conditions, so chemical treatment may be warranted in susceptible crops (red raspberries and blackberries).

(Thanks to Steve Rieners and Marvin Pritts at Cornell University for sharing this with us.) 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Cane blight at end of season?

Cane blight infection at tip of cane where it had been pruned as a primocane.

Cane bight symptoms in entire canes.  Dead canes are silvery/gray in appearance. Photo phil Brannen. UGA

As the blackberry season winds down, there are several reports of loss of crop and cane death before the crop ripens. This is often occurring in plantings that are low or no spray such as homeowners and small commercial plantings. The canes become infected when they are primocanes as tipping or pruning occurs in the summer. 

In at least one instance, samples sent into the NCSU Plant Insect and Disease Clinic have confirmed that Cane Blight caused by the fungus, Leptosphaeria coniothyrium. This disease is common in roses and some ornamentals. 

Here is a link to the disease.

Here is a link to the IPM manual that has control methods:

and and article on the disease

Please send in samples to your states disease clinic to confirm any diagnosis.

Phil Brannen, UGA also sent these comments on fields with infected canes:

"On the current canes, there is nothing to be done to prevent it from spreading.  After harvest, I would immediately cut out the old floricanes.  The most full-proof approach to wiping out old inoculum would require complete removal and burning of the old canes.  Some producers hesitate to do this, so complete flail-mowing of the canes may work.  However, I would be careful to say that we don’t have research information to say that this completely destroys the inoculum.  I would tip or pinch prune where possible on the new primocanes, as opposed to large pruning cuts, and I would apply Pristine or Rally (make sure they are labeled for your state) after each day of pruning to prevent infection on the pruning cuts. Hopefully, this will break the cycle."

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Red drupelet disorder, Australia updated powerpoint

Max Edgley, from the University of Tasmania, sent me this updated power point last week.

He looked at physical damage, N levels (low/medium/high), cooling temperature treatments. His preliminary data suggests:

  • Physical damage increases red drupelet numbers
  • High N application during harvest had higher numbers of red drupelets
  • Staged cooling (precooling and cooling) had less red drupelets than just one cooling temperature.

For more details on specifics of this work,  see his presentation at:

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Red drupelet disorder

Red drupelets in blackberry fruit harvested in the afternoon. Upper image is showing more than 15% red drupelets. Lower image is a mild case. Upper image PPV, lower image GF.
Now that we are reaching peak harvest and peak summer temperatures, red drupelet disorder is starting to appear in harvested fruit. After the fruit is harvested, individual black drupetlets will revert back to a red color. Red druplet disorder is also called reversion, reddening or red cell. Penny Perkins-Veazie has worked on this problem for several years. Here are some of her thoughts:

- Harvest before 10 am, get to cooler within an hour of harvest. 
- Remove heat quickly or delay field heat development.
- Forced air cool may need to be set 5 F higher than usual to avoid excess coldness at top of pallet.
-Semi truck loads tend to have more red drupe at front end (near rig) and at top due to air movement and nearness to cooling units.
-Least susceptible variety continues to be Navaho.  Those showing problems are Natchez, Tupi.  Ouachita can be problematic if rainfall has been high and harvest is going into afternoon.
-I'm not sure about PrimeArk 45 or Osage.  The new 'crispy' type does not seem to get red drupe, indicating a firmness/cell wall component in color reversion.
-A 15% red drupe (color reversion) in the load is considered the limit to avoid rejection.  
-Trellising or using E-W row orientation helps to keep fruit in shade longer, decreases exposure to light/heating.  (GF: our shift/RCA trellises seem to have less red and white druplets in general)
-We are not yet sure of production practice issues on red drupe although some reports with tunnel grown blackberries indicate keeping nitrogen rates lower and avoiding heat buildup help with the problem.
-Environmental possibilities for exacerbating the problem seem to be water stress (high rainfall within a few days of harvest, or high rainfall in spring followed by very hot temperatures), nitrogen imbalance, and possibly calcium/potassium availability.

Max Edgley, from the University of Tasmania, has an excellent slide show on this disorder. Max attended the Rubus and Ribes Symposium last year and has shared some of his findings here:

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Great New Way To Get Your Choice of USDA-AMS (Agricultural Marketing Service) Information

Jeffrey Davis from USDA-AMS (Agricultural Marketing Service) has encouraged me to share this information with both Extension personnel and growers. The USDA-AMS has started a new email subscription service to help you have access to more of the all the useful AMS information.  The service allows you to choose how many programs you will receive information from. For example, I subscribe to the Specialty Crops Program. And today they sent me a notice about a webinar the Supply Reports Branch, is hosting next week. They will have a group of panelists that will help explain the Terminal Market, Shipping Point, Retail, Local, International, Movement, and Organic reports. Here is the information to sign up:

"USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is pleased to announce that we have implemented a new email subscription service to make it easier for you to learn about updates on the topics which interest you. We will continue to send you emails on everything from upcoming Specialty Crops Program (SCP) webinars, informational Market News updates, and our SCP newsletters. 

Our new platform will allow you to receive important e-mail notices containing the latest information about AMS program areas of interest to you.  You’ll have quick access to material regarding new opportunities from our Marketing Orders & Agreements Division (MOAD), Promotion & Economics Division (PED), Specialty Crops Inspection Division (SCID), Specialty Crop Market News (MN) and our Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) Division.  Best of all: you will be in complete control over what information you receive! 

Do I need to do anything?

No, we will continue to send you timely, relevant information on all of the important AMS programs & services that you have received in the past. Starting today though, the emails will be coming from our new email subscription service GovDelivery. If you would like to customize the topics that you are subscribed to follow these three simple steps:

Step 1: Customize your GovDelivery Subscriber Preferences

Access your account preferences here:
Enter your e-mail address and click the “Submit” button.  Click the “Preferences” tab, choose your e-mail delivery preferences, and enter an optional password (highly recommended).
Click the “Submit” button.
Step 2: Choose Your Topics of Interest

Note: We have already selected topics that you have already shown interest in, so take a moment to review those selections.

Click the “Subscriptions” tab, and then click the “Add Subscriptions” link.
Browse the “Subscription Topics” categories and topics of interest.  Click on the “+” sign to expand categories and topics.
If you want to receive e-mail updates on a particular category or topic, click the checkbox next to that category or topic.  If you choose a category, you’ll receive updates for all the topics under that category.
Save your topics by clicking the “Submit” button at the bottom of the page.
Step 3: Get the Updates You Want

When AMS has new information to share related to any of the categories or topics you chose, we will e-mail that information to you.

Who Can I Contact If I Have Questions?

E-mail questions related to your subscription to Jeff Davis

Jeffrey Davis
Business Development Specialist
Specialty Crops Program
USDA/Agricultural Marketing Service
1400 Independence Ave SW
Stop 0236, Room 2085-S
Washington, DC   20250
Direct  (202) 260-9519
Cell      (202) 306-2673
Fax      (202) 720-0016

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Blackberry Botrytis Resistance Profile

Botrytis (gray mold) is a common sight in strawberry fields, especially if it has been a rainy season. Although less common in blackberry fields, it can occur.

Guido Schnabel, Clemson Univ. is offering to test blackberry/raspberry samples to determine if you have resistance to  botrytis (gray mold) fungicides at your farm. He has done this for strawberry growers for a number of years and some blackberry growers have also used this service. It is a great way to determine if what you are spraying is effective in controlling gray mold.

See the link below for downloadable instructions. They suggest you use the swabs instead of fruit, because they are easier to ship. Note also that each farm will get 2 free samples analyzed, if you would like more than that, there will be a $110 charge.

Please share these with folks that may be interested.

Sample document link:

For more information on the service see:

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Summer checklist for blackberries and raspberries

Summer  2016
Caneberry Chores

This list was developed by Dr. Gina Fernandez, Small Fruit Specialist at NC State University.  Chores and timing may be somewhat different in your area or for your cropping system. 

Some parts of the region have had excessive rain, so stay on top of your disease monitoring and control (see link to IPM guide below). There are early reports of SWD, stay on top of that pest as well. See post by Hannah Burrack

Plant growth and development
Fruit development for floricanes fruiting types
Rapid primocane growth
Flower bud development for primocane fruiting types later in summer
Floricanes senesce

Pruning and trellising

Floricane-fruiting raspberries:
May need to adjust primocane numbers if canes are too thick (i.e. remove less vigorous primocanes at their base)
Train primocanes to the trellis
Pinch black raspberry primocanes at 2 to 3 ft. to promote lateral growth

Primocane-fruiting raspberries:
Train primocanes within a trellis to hold canes erect

Erect floricane -fruiting blackberries
Tip the new primocanes when they are about 6” to 12” below the top wire of the trellis to encourage lateral branching
Continue tipping at monthly intervals to maintain desired branching and height of canopy (laterals should reach top wire), if pruners are used, make sure that a fungicide is applied as cane blight will enter that large wound are created by the pruners
Prune out spent floricanes after they have produced fruit, do not thin out primocanes until mid-to late winter
Train primocanes to trellis to minimize interference with harvest.  Shift trellises or V trellises make this relatively easy

Trailing floricane-fruiting blackberries
Train new primocanes to middle of trellis, on the ground in a weed-free area, or temporarily to trellis outside of fruiting area (depends on trellis type)
Cut back side shoots to 18” (after dormancy in cold climates)
Remove spent floricanes after harvest

Primocane-fruiting blackberries
Tip canes twice, soft tip once when they reach 1.5 ft and then soft tip the laterals at 1.5 ft. 

Weed management
Mow along side of row to maintain the width of the bed to 3 to 4 ft. 
Weed growth can be very vigorous at the same time as the crop peaks. 
Weed control is best done earlier in the season before harvest commences. 
Mow middles regularly to allow pickers to move through rows easily.

Insect and disease scouting
Scout and treat for these pests: 
Raspberry crown and cane borers (canes girdled and wilt)
Two-spotted spider mite
June beetle
Japanese beetles
Stink bugs
Fire ants
Orange felt (orange cane blotch) (blackberry)
Sooty blotch (blackberry)
Orange rust
Powdery mildew
Double blossom (blackberry)
Cane blight (blackberry)
Powdery mildew

Water management
Raspberry and blackberry plants need about 1-2 inches of water/week; this amount is especially critical during harvest. 
Give plants a deep irrigation after harvest.

Nutrient management
Take leaf samples after harvest and send to a clinic for nutrient analysis
Blackberry growers typically use drip irrigation through the spring and early summer to supply about 50 lb/N acre. Growers should ease off N during harvest, but give plants additional nitrogen (about 10-30 lbs/acre) after harvest. Amounts needed will vary with plant health, crop load and soil conditions. Check with your local Extension agent for recommendations. 

Harvest and marketing
The busiest time of the year for a blackberry or raspberry grower is the harvest season. Each plant needs to be harvested every 2-3 days. For larger plantings, that means fruit is picked from some part of the field every day of the week.
Pick blackberries when shiny black for shipping. Those that are dull black are fully ripe and suitable for PYO only.
Pick directly into clamshells with absorbent pads, or for PYO use clean cardboard flats, take-home baskets, or sanitized re-usable containers.
Keep harvested fruit in shade and move into coolers as soon as possible to lengthen the shelf life of the fruit.
Use forced-air precoolers for best removal of field heat.
Store at 32 to 34°F and 95% relative humidity.
Freeze excess fruit for jam, juice, or wine.
Keep excellent records of what cultivars are picked, what fields are picked and when they are picked. Good record keeping will help you predict harvest  potential in the future.
Keep your customers informed with social media. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Raspberry and Blackberry Grades and Standards

While searching for other statistics on caneberries, I came across this information that some of you may be interested in browsing as you enter the harvest season. The USDA has grades and standards for the quality rating of raspberries and blackberries.  The raspberry grades/standards were established in 1931 and blackberry in 1928.

Below are grades and standards for both crops, the actual grades/standards allowed by some shipping companies can be more restrictive, eg. no white drupelets. Local markets rarely follow these standards (at least I have not seen them). If you would like more information, the original  links can be found at:

Fresh Dewberries and Blackberries Grades and Standards

Grades of Fresh Dewberries and Blackberries

  1. U.S. No. 1 consists of dewberries or blackberries of one variety which are firm, well colored, well developed and not overripe, which are free from caps (calyxes), mold and decay, and from damage caused by dirt or other foreign matter, shriveling, moisture, disease, insects, mechanical or other means.
a.    Tolerances. In order to allow for variations incident to proper grading and handling, not more than 10 percent, by volume, of the berries in any lot may fail to meet the requirements of this grade, including therein not more than 5 percent for defects causing serious damage, and including in this latter amount not more than 1 percent for berries which are affected by mold or decay.
  1. U.S. No. 2 consists of dewberries or blackberries of one variety which fail to meet the requirements of the U.S. No. 1 grade but which do not contain more than 10 percent, by volume, of berries in any lot which are seriously damaged by any cause, including therein not more than 2 percent for berries which are affected by mold or decay.
  2. Unclassified consists of dewberries or blackberries which have not been classified in accordance with either of the foregoing grades. The term "unclassified" is not a grade within the meaning of these standards but is provided as a designation to show that no grade has been applied to the lot.

Detailed standards, Inspection Instructions & Other Resources:

Raspberries Grades and Standards

Grades of Raspberries

  1. U.S. No. 1 consists of raspberries of one variety which are well colored, well developed and not soft, overripe, or broken; which are free from cores, sunscald, mold, and decay, and from damage caused by dirt or other foreign matter, shriveling, moisture, disease, insects, mechanical or other means.
a.    Tolerances. In order to allow for variations incident to proper grading and handling, not more than 10 percent, by volume, of the berries in any lot may fail to meet the requirements of this grade, including therein not more than 5 percent for defects causing serious damage, and including in this latter amount not more than 1 percent for berries which are affected by mold or decay.
  1. U.S. No. 2 consists of raspberries of one variety which fail to meet the requirements of the U.S. No. 1 grade but which do not contain more than 10 percent, by volume, of berries in any lot which are seriously damaged by any cause, including therein not more than 2 percent for berries which are affected by mold or decay.
  2. Unclassified consists of raspberries which have not been classified in accordance with either of the foregoing grades. The term "unclassified'' is not a grade within the meaning of these standards but is provided as a designation to show that no grade has been applied to the lot.

Detailed standards, Inspection Instructions & Other Resources:

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Blackberry pricing

Please help the North American Raspberry and Blackberry Association determine pricing of fruit for this upcoming harvest season. See the message below from their Executive Secretary Debby Wechsler. Click on the link at the end of her message for the short questionnaire. She will publish these prices as she always does in the summer issue of "The Bramble".  Please respond by May 31st!

Dear Growers: 

What are your berry prices this year? The North American Raspberry & Blackberry Association is surveying growers about their raspberry & blackberry pricing for 2016. We are especially interested in prices for pick-your-own and retail (eg on-farm and at farmers markets). We will also report local wholesale prices (such as to stores and restaurants) if you provide them. If you don't know your 2016 prices yet, you can just provide your 2015 prices or best estimates.

As we did last year, we will report the results in the June issue of our newsletter. We will also share the report with all non-members who participate in the survey.

The more growers who participate, the more useful the survey is, so feel free to share this message and link with other raspberry & blackberry growers, especially those who direct-market at least some of their berries to consumers. 
Click here for the questionnaire. Please respond by May 31st!