Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Tour of eastern NC blackberry industry

Picture of people at one of the new blackberry farms in Bladen Co.

Last week our lab group took a tour of the growing blackberry industry in eastern NC with the local county agent in Bladen Co, Bruce Mclean (thanks Bruce).  We were joined by staff from the Piedmont Research Station, Hort Crop Unit. 

Although blackberries are not new to this part of the state,  this new acreage is an exciting addition to our dynamic blackberry industry. Here are a few of the highlights...

  • There are several new large plantings of 20 acres or more in the area and all will be under high tunnels when in fruit is being produced. 
  •  Growers are using automated fertigation systems that can be run from cell phones remotely.
  • Some growers are planting Univ. of Arkansas cultivars including the new 'Caddo', one grower is testing some of the new USDA cultivars ('Eclipse' and 'Galaxy') others are planting proprietary cultivars. 

Monday, March 18, 2019

Spring Caneberry Checklist 2019

Spring 2019 has been WET. But blackberry plants have broken bud are ready to start the season throughout the regoin. Chores and timing may be somewhat different in your area or for your cropping system.  
For IPM recommendations and general production practices, see the 2019 Southeast Regional Caneberry Integrated Management Guide.

The SRSFC production practices are in the Regional Caneberry Production guide (includes link to PDF format):
·      https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/southeast-regional-caneberry-production-guide
Crop phenology for IPM
The IPM guide above lists these stages of growth or planting age. This is the time of year we are now leaving (or have left a while ago!) the dormant period and by the time the next newsletter comes out, we will likely be harvesting in some locations.

·      Dormant (prior to budbreak)
·      Delayed dormant (swollen buds) to green tip
·      Shoots 6 inches long and before blooms open
·      Pre-bloom (when flower buds show white)
·      Early bloom (5-10%)
·      Full Petal
·      Cover sprays
·      Pre-harvest (14 days before anticipated harvest)
·      Harvest

Plant growth and development during the spring/summer
·      Plants deacclimate quickly
·      Bud differentiation (additional flowers can be formed)
·      Bud break
·      Flowering
·      Primocane emergence
Pruning and trellising
·      Finish pruning and make sure all floricanes are tied to the trellis before budbreak
·      Remove canes from field to minimize spread of diseases
·      Rotate shift trellises to horizontal position before budbreak; rotate to upright position immediately after flowering.
·      Prepare for flower to fruit monitoring (see http://teamrubus.blogspot.com/2015/03/monitoring-flower-to-fruit-development.html )

·      Weed growth can be very vigorous at the same time as the bramble crop peaks
·      Weed control is best done earlier in the season, with pre-emergent herbicides before harvest commences
·      Hand-weed perennial weeds in and around plots

Insect, disease and crop ripening
·      Growers with a history of cane diseases and/or mites often find that certain fungicides and oils are most effective just prior to bud break. The period of time in the spring when the plant is flowering is the most important season for control of insects and diseases. Know what your pests are and how to control them.
Water management
·      Test irrigation system and look for leaks
·      Caneberry plants need about 1”-2” water/week. This amount will be especially critical during harvest
Fertility management See Caneberry Production Guide

Marketing and miscellaneous

·      Service and clean coolers
·      Make sure you have enough containers for fruit in the coming season
·      Prepare advertising and signage for your stand
·      Contact buyers to finalize orders
·      Hire pickers
·      Prepare signage for field orientation; it is easier to tell pickers where to go if rows are numbered
·      Check buds and canes for cold damage (27°F is temperature that kills all stages of flower buds see http://teamrubus.blogspot.com/2016/04/damgage-to-blackberry-flowers-at-27f.html
·      Monitor and record peak flowering date for each variety every year. Then later during harvest, check your records for peak harvest of each variety.  Over time, it will help you to determine when your peak harvest will occur.