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New management methods extend blackberry season
Date:12/11/2009

CORVALIS, ORFruit growers' profits have traditionally been limited by the seasons, particularly in colder climates where growing seasons can be short. Thanks to researchers and fruit breeders, newly developed varieties are being introduced that offer growers the ability to produce fruit during the offseasonresulting in economic bonuses for both producers and consumers. Fresh examples are the new varieties of blackberry called "primocane-fruiting", which bear fruit on current-season canes, or primocanes. Primocanes can offer distinct advantages over traditional floricane-fruiting varieties, which must be overwintered and produce fruit the second year. These unique blackberries could greatly impact production efforts by extending the harvest into the fall and winter months in milder climates.

Researchers have established that harvesting of primocane-fruiting raspberry can easily be delayed in production systems that include techniques such as summer pruning, tipping, and tunnel protection. To determine the effect of management techniques on yield and fruiting season of blackberry, Ellen Thompson and Bernadine C. Strik from the Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University recently experimented with a primocane-fruiting variety called 'Prime-Jan'. The team evaluated the effect of fruiting season on the chemistry of fruit ripened on plants grown in tunnel and open-field production systems. The results were published in a recent edition of the journal HortScience.

Plantings were established at the OSUNorth Willamette Research and Extension Center (Aurora, Oregon) in May 2005; half under a high tunnel and the remainder planted in an adjacent open field. In 2006-07 primocanes were subjected to four treatments to promote branching and/or delay harvest: all primocanes were cut to the ground when averaging 0.25 m tall, then later emerging canes soft-tipped when reaching 0.5 m tall; all primocanes within the plot were cut to the ground
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Contact: Michael W. Neff
mwneff@ashs.org
703-836-4606
American Society for Horticultural Science
Source:Eurekalert  

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