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In addition to growing a quality crop, farmers must be adept at business management. Business management includes not only financial responsibility, but also marketing, food safety, and risk management. A farmer might produce a bumper crop of berries, but if anyone of these management areas is overlooked, the profit potential for the season will not be fully realized.

The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services on this Web site does not imply endorsement by NC State University or the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned.

Budgets & Pricing

NC State University has developed and compiled sample operating budgets to guide North Carolina blackberry growers in tracking, maintaining, and managing their business costs. The documents provided below represent the estimated costs associated with the production, harvest, and marketing for commercial blackberry operations. Costs can vary greatly depending on the operation.

Contact your local Cooperative Extension agent with questions or to request more information regarding North Carolina brambles.

Extension agents and growers are able to estimate production costs by entering cost estimates into these budget spreadsheets. Since expenses such as machinery, materials, and labor vary by operation, these spreadsheets are designed to automatically calculate estimated business costs, returns and breakeven values based on the data a grower inputs. Sample budgets with production cost estimates for the first three years are also included.

Ultimately, these documents will help answer the questions: “How much will it cost?” and “Is there potential for profit?”

Budget for Organic Blackberry Production (Excel) budget presents the estimated costs of producing and harvesting blackberries in the Southeastern United States that can be useful for farmers considering starting a commercial operation or expanding an existing operation. The budget was developed for a representative one-acre planting with drip irrigation.

Blackberry Budget Program 2011 (Excel) is a sample worksheet that gives you an idea of the cost of producing, harvesting, and marketing blackberries in North Carolina. It includes worksheets for machinery, materials, yields, labor, production costs, and returns. An in-depth financial analysis and overview of the operation are given based on the numbers that you plugin.

Market Outlook for Blackberry Production in the Southeast (PDF) by Dr. Charles Safley, N.C. State University, provides a detailed overview of the economic outlook for the blackberry industry. The presentation was originally delivered at the 2009 Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference.

Raspberry Budget Program 2009 (Excel) represents the estimated costs of producing and harvesting primocane-fruiting raspberries in North Carolina. The cost estimates are given on a per-acre basis. Growers should refer to the tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet to go from one section of the budget to another. 

The Bramble – 2008 Raspberry/Blackberry Pricing Survey (PDF) was conducted by the North American Raspberry and Blackberry Association (NARBA) a pricing survey of blackberry and raspberry fruit in different locations across the country. The survey indicated that pricing varies by region, farm, and pricing unit (pint vs. pound).

Four Trellis Options, Cost Comparisons

Bramble Trellising Options and Economics Presentation (PDF)

Bramble Trellis Costs (Excel) was prepared by Charles Safley and Gina Fernandez to compare the costs of 4 trellis systems: 1. V-­‐Trellis with Metal Posts, 2. T-­‐Trelliswith Wood Posts, 3. T-­‐Bar Trellis (Prefabricated Rebar)4. Shift Trellis. The talk was presented to the North American Raspberry and Blackberry Conference in 2011 in Savannah, GA.

Risk Management

North Carolina’s blackberry and raspberry producers need solid information and effective tools to cope with the increased risks of farming in the 21st century. Risk has always been a part of agriculture. However, policy and other changes in the last few years have shifted the burden of risk increasingly onto farmers’ shoulders. Global competition, trade agreements such as NAFTA, a shrinking number of buyers, the loss of local processing facilities, low prices, and reduced profits all contribute to increased financial vulnerability for producers. And on top of this, growers still face the inevitable risks of weather events such as hail, drought, and hurricanes.


Direct Marketing

Identifying Factors Affecting Consumer Purchases at Direct Market Operations is research that identifies consumers’ buying behavior that will help producers make more informed marketing, advertising, and promotion decisions.

Brambles Production, Management, and Marketing (Ohio State University) guide provide assistance on pricing, customer interaction, economics, promotion, and advertising for brambles operations. Ohio State University developed this resource and sometimes uses Ohio-based data and examples. Many of the marketing lessons and concepts explored, however, can be applied to growers in North Carolina and the Southeast.

Fruit and Vegetable Marketing for Small-scale and Part-time Growers (Penn State University) tailored to smaller operations, this publication will help growers identify their major markets, evaluate market demand and determine the marketing channels that best fit their business.

Wholesale Marketing

Air Shipment of ‘Navaho’ Blackberry Fruit to Europe is Feasible. The article discusses Europe as a potential market for blackberries produced in the southern U.S. and highlights the characteristics necessary for successful marketing of berries to Europe.

Brambles Production, Management, and Marketing (Ohio State University) guide provide assistance on pricing, customer interaction, economics, promotion, and advertising for brambles operations. Ohio State University developed this resource and sometimes uses Ohio-based data and examples. Many of the marketing lessons and concepts explored, however, can be applied to growers in North Carolina and the Southeast.

NC Farm to School Program (NCDA&CS) works with North Carolina growers to supply school cafeterias across the state with the freshest, locally grown produce possible. Growers must meet certain criteria and apply for the opportunity to sell through this market.

Food Safety

NC MarketReady Fresh Produce Safety – Field to Family portal includes information on food safety plans, Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), traceability, and upcoming training and workshops to help North Carolina farmers minimize risks while producing and distributing quality foods.

Good Agricultural Practices for the Production and Handling of Berries (PDF) outlines ways that growers can minimize food safety risks. Includes information on employee hygiene, harvest and packing, storage and transportation, and record-keeping practices.