Monday, December 30, 2019

North American Raspberry & Blackberry Association 2018 Raspberry & Blackberry Pricing Survey

The North American Raspberry and Blackberry Association conducted a pricing survey in 2018 of their members. More than 140 people responded from 7 regions of the country including the SEUS. In addition to pricing, they asked about production practices, years of production, acreage and more. Here is a link to that survey.

Thanks to NARBA for letting us share this data. 

Friday, November 15, 2019

Blackberry growers and industry stakeholders we need your help!

The blackberry industry has changed dramatically in the past 15 years. The research and Extension community wants to be proactive in meeting the needs of this growing industry. Dr. Margaret Worthington, University of Arkansas, is heading up a USDA funded project that is gathering the concerns and priorities of growers and stakeholders. A first step is to collect information in the survey below. The following  paragraphs are from a letter that Margaret has asked us to share. Please take some time during these next few weeks to fill out this short survey. -GF

You are invited to participate in a short 10 minute survey of U.S. blackberry growers and related industry professionals (nurseries, supplies, shippers, marketers, industry associations etc.) in order to help us improve awareness of the current status and needs of the U.S. blackberry industry. The data from this survey will help determine priorities for future research and breeding efforts. This survey is funded by a USDA-NIFA Specialty Crops Research Initiative planning project that seeks to 1) assess national blackberry production, identify challenges, and predict future trends and 2) engage stakeholders from diverse production regions to identify priorities for breeding, research, and extension.

Your answers to these questions will be kept confidential to the extent allowed by law and University policy and will not be reported in a way that identifies you or your specific farm or organization. Patterns and themes across groups of blackberry industry stakeholders will be reported to help identify gaps or bottlenecks where additional resources could benefit the blackberry community. You must be at least 18 years old to participate in this research. Participation is completely voluntary; you have the right to say no, or to change your mind at any time and withdraw. You may choose not to answer specific questions or to stop participating at any time. Participants who complete the survey before February 1, 2020 can chose to participate in a random drawing of three Amazon gift cards (one valued at $50 and two at $25) at the end of the survey. 

For questions about the survey research or assistance in accessing and completing the survey, please contact the project director, Margaret Leigh Worthington,, 479-575-2122.  English and Spanish versions of this survey are available on paper. Please email or call Margaret Worthington to request a hard copy of the survey in English or Spanish. 

Stakeholder involvement is critical for the success of this project.  Thank you in advance for your participation!  

Here is a link to the survey: 

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Hurricane Dorian

It is September and we have another hurricane headed to NC.

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.

TUNNELS.  Skin or remove plastic. The structures are less likely to blow away with plastic removed. 

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.  See the SRSFC for recommended chemicals for disease control before (for cane blight) and after the storm.

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.

Field day in NC mountains

The NC Commercial Blackberry and Raspberry Assocation Field Day is next week. Register now with the link below!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Summer checklist

Summer  2019
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.
Plant growth and development
·      Fruit development for floricane-fruiting types
·      Rapid primocane growth
·      Flower bud development for primocane-fruiting types later in summer
·      Floricanes produce fruit and begin to 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 grow in the middle of the fruiting floricanes
·      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, tipping is better than cutting with a pruners to prevent Cane Blight infection. For more information on Cane Blight: Blight of Blackberry
·      Continue tipping at monthly intervals (or at least twice during the season) to maintain desired branching and height of canopy (laterals should reach top wire)
·      Control cane blight after tipping with fungicide treatment
·      Prune out spent floricanes after they have produced fruit, do not thin out primocanes until mid-to late winter
·      Train primocanes to grow in between the floricane 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”
·      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:
·      Spotted winged drosophila
·      Raspberry crown and cane borers (canes girdled and wilt)
·      Psyllid
·      Two-spotted spider mite
·      June beetle
·      Japanese beetles
·      Stink bugs
·      Fire ants
·      Botrytis
·      Rusts
·      Orange felt (orange cane blotch) (blackberry)
·      Sooty blotch (blackberry)
·      Orange rust
·      Powdery mildew
·      Double blossom (blackberry)
·      Cane blight (blackberry)
·      Powdery mildew

If virus symptoms are present, affected plants may need to be rouged to prevent spread

Water management
·      Raspberry and blackberry plants need about 1-2 inches of water/week; this amount is especially critical during harvest.
·      For blackberries (not raspberries) in warmer climates only, consider installing an overhead system for evaporative cooling to reduce sunscald. Turn on once or twice a day from 10 am to 3 pm for short periods of time (approx. 15 minutes) at mid day only. 
·      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 good 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.

Upcoming meetings

There will be a field day sponsored by the NC Commerical Blackberry and Raspberry Association at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center Friday September 13, 2019. For more information contact

Monday, June 10, 2019