Caneberry Breeding and Cultural Practices Research Updates

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Welcome to our first North Carolina Commercial Blackberry and Raspberry Grower Association “Specialist Zoom” call. Dr. Gina Fernandez, is our Caneberry Specialist and Breeder, and we also have Dr. Tom Kon, the Southeast Apple Research Specialist and now he’s a Blackberry Researcher as well, so we’re super thrilled to have Tom here today.

Gina Fernandez

NC State Extension Small Fruits Specialist and Caneberry Breeder

I will be talking about two things today. First, I will talk about the Caneberry Breeding Program. What’s the status of it is, and then a new project that we’re doing with some of the USDA Oregon germplasm, some of the advanced with the selections and cultivars that they have released from that program. Talking first about the Caneberry Breeding Program. What the status of it is, and then a new project that we’re doing with some of the USDA Oregon germplasm, some of the advanced with the selections and cultivars that they have released from that program. So a little bit of a breeding update here, just want to give you some information on what’s out there already. Von, the floricane fruiting blackberry sold about, (it’s a commercial blackberry that does well for growers in this part of the country). We sold about 34,000 plants last year. […]

Tom Kon

Southeast Apple Specialist and Caneberry Researcher

We were awarded a grant, Improved Management of Primocane Fruiting Blackberries, through the North Carolina Department of Agriculture (NCDA) this past year that will start in 2021 and carry on through actually the middle of 2023. It’s myself, Gina Fernandez, Sarah Valani, and Penny Perkins. Really excited about the potential for this project and I think my interest in trying to identify and address these current limitations and yield potential, specifically for me as a horticulturist, really came about through some of our previous work with plant growth regulators particularly. And then certainly with the addition of Sarah Valani, our great Plant Pathologist here, that’s started to work with caneberry growers within the past year too. Wanted to make sure that there’d be a great opportunity here to address some of the issues that the last set of survey questions really hit home on, which is that there are concerns about resistance management, there are concerns related to seeing cane day die back after tipping, and trying to see if we can develop some strategies that would be more sustainable in blackberry production systems. So, again this transpired from some work that I did with a plant growth regulator. I know I spoke to this group last year, but we evaluated a plant growth regulator to try and reduce primocane growth and manage the vegetative growth of blackberry. But one thing that really stood out to me is in a simple comparison between untreated control tipping and our prohexadione-Ca treatments. There were no differences across in yield and I realized that tipping is currently the best practice that we have to stimulate lateral branch development in blackberry, which is related to productivity in blackberry, but this just really surprised me. I know it’s just a single year of a single trial, but to not see a response from tipping was quite surprising, and if anything there’s a negative numerical trend here associated with tipping or with our prohexadione-Ca treatment as it relates to yield. So, that made me think that maybe we need to rethink this to some extent and certainly conversations with some growers and certainly a great researcher based out of USDA Kearneysville – Fumiomi Takeda, looking at some of the work that he’s done was quite inspirational as well. […]