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. 

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