Thursday, November 1, 2018

Fall Caneberry Chores

Many of us in the south are recovering from the wrath of Hurricanes Florence and Michael. In parts of eastern NC, soils were saturated with the storm, and then had additional flooding as the rivers continued to fill with water from the tributaries. There is some information in the blog post on how to dealing with flooded berry fields

In January, the North American Raspberry and Blackberry Association will be meeting in Savannah. This is looking to be a great meeting for growers and we expect many folks from the west coast to join us as well. Information on the program and registration is listed below.

Here are things to do for this season....

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 Raspberry and Blackberry Association/ Southeast Regional Conference and Tradeshow, Savannah, GA
    • Sessions on blackberry, raspberry, and strawberry, blueberry, muscadines and more!
    • January 9-12, 2019, at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center

Key Resources:
Southern Region Integrated Bramble Management Guide:

Southeast Regional Caneberry Production Guide:

Blackberry and Raspberry Grower Information Portal:

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

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Grower Field Day

Agents and Growers,  There will be a Blackberry field day in Shelby NC Sept 20. 901 W. Cabaniss Rd. 9-4.  RSVP information is in the image above. Le'ts hope that Hurricane Florence does not impact this area.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Hurricane Florence 2018

Here is a quick note about hurricane preparations and what to do after the storm leaves you with wet fields. Root diseases are among the key issues that you need to think about. Excerpts below are copied from previous years. Hurricanes in the fall are a part of life in NC.

I am currently in the NC mountains checking on plots in Hendersonville and Laurel Springs. Although the wind from the storm is not predicted to be severe in this region, it has been raining, and Florence may bring more rain.  Wet soils can also be a problem here as well as central and eastern parts of the state.

Photo: WRAL

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.) 

Friday, June 22, 2018

It's getting hot out there, time to try a night harvest?

Last summer we conducted a small study looking at the possibility of night harvest for blackberries.

Briefly this is what we found:

  • Headlamps worked well. We used some that were rechargeable LED headlamps. They were about $20, from Amazon. There are other sources. Don't get the cheap ones they don't give you enough light. 

  • The fruit temperatures and air temperatures were almost identical last year, when we did our 24 hr study. We saw a 30F difference in temperatures, with a minimum temperature of 58F around 3 am and a high of 85 at noon.
  • The fruit never got wet BUT THE LEAVES DID.  The dew formed on the leaves around 1 am. The dew from those leaves was knocked onto the fruit during harvest and impacted the fruit quality. So, we think that after the leaves get wet, it is time to stop harvesting to prevent fruit from getting wet.
  • You many not want to harvest all night, but if you harvest late into the evening, those cooler temperatures may give your workers a more comfortable working environment and may improve fruit quality. 
Here is a link to the post from last year.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Blackberry season 2018: looking forward to a great harvest, some problems to watch out for along the way

The blackberry season just a few days to weeks away, depending on your location. Some of the more common problems that are likely to be seen are:

1. Cane blight. This is one of the most common diseases in blackberry plantings. The tips of the floricanes are necrotic and have a brown/silvery appearance. The canes became infect last year when they were primocanes and were tipped. The wound created by tipping allowed the disease to get into that large wound. To minimize the infection it is best to tip when the canes have a very small diameter. More information here:

2. Viruses. This was one of my first challenges that I met when I started  at NCSU. Back then, several  new plantings were riddled with virus symptoms. Thanks to a clean plant program, from tissue culture to nursery, to institution of improved cultural practices, viruses are not as prevalent now. More information here:

3. Poor fruit set/fruit not ripening. This could be a result of a number of things. Poor pollination during flowering, rain during flowering, but more likely this year to injury to the flowers during the spring. Some fruit never developed as is seen in the first image. You can see in the second image the damaged and not damaged flowers. Those that were damaged will not develop into fruit. For more information on damage from cold, click here

4. Leaves suddenly wilting on floricanes. This can be due to a number of things, winter injury, wind damage, crown borers or rodent damage. Here is a link for more information. Picture of wilting raspberry floricane courtesy of Kira Chaloupka.

5. Orange spots on canes, also known as Orange Felt or Orange Cane Blotch (Cephaleuros virescens). This occurs in warm humid fields in the central, eastern and southern parts of NC. It is also in other states in the south. It is a parasitic algae, so even though at first glance it looks like a disease, it is not. Here is a link with some more information.

6. White Drupelets. Although most cultivars can get white drupelet, we see this in Apache more than others. Here is a link with more information.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

NARBA Caneberry pricing survey

NARBA is conducting a survey of caneberry pricing and retail strategies for 2018. with the help of the University of Arkansas  Please participate if you are a grower. If you haven't settled on your 2018 prices, you can report 2017 prices. All participants will have the opportunity to receive a report of the results.

To access the survey please click the following link:
Also, please share this survey link now with raspberry/blackberry growers you know or work with. We are trying to get the word out both quickly and widely so we can analyze and report the results in June. Thank you, and thank you to those of you who already responded.
Debby Wechsler, NARBA Executive Secretary 
* * * * * * *
More information, in the full invitation: 
Dear Producer,
Researchers at the University of Arkansas, in collaboration with the North American Raspberry & Blackberry Association (NARBA), and the University of Vermont, are conducting a survey to learn more about caneberry pricing and retail strategies for 2018. The survey should only take around 10 minutes to complete. Your participation is completely voluntary. Responses will be recorded anonymously and no identifying personal information will be collected within the survey. You are free to refuse to participate in the research and to stop completing the survey at any time.
Information collected in the survey will be used to gain a better understanding of the marketing, pricing, and sales strategies currently being used by caneberry producers across the United States and Canada. Results will be aggregated and published in the June issue of the North American Raspberry and Blackberry Association’s member newsletter. A report will also be emailed to all participants requesting this option.

To access the survey please click the following link:

If you have any questions about this survey itself, please contact Jennie Popp by email or phone at or 479-575-7381.   You may also contact NARBA by email at, or by phone at 919-542-4037.
Jennie Popp, Ph.D.

This research has been reviewed according to the University of Arkansas IRB procedures for research involving human subjects:
IRB # 1805120083
Approved: 5/16/18

If you have questions about your rights as a participant, or to discuss any concerns about, or problems with the research, you may contact the University of Arkansas Research Compliance office listed below:
Iroshi (Ro) Windwalker, CIP
IRB/RSC Coordinator
Office of Research Compliance
109 MLKG Building
University of Arkansas
Fayetteville, AR 72701 
Phone: 479.575.2208    
Fax: 479.575.6527