Production practices evaluated for organic trailing blackberry

March 2, 2016

Organic blackberry production is becoming an important niche market in Oregon, where nearly 50% of conventional and organic blackberries in the U.S. are grown. In the area, trailing blackberry types used for the processed market are most common. A study published in HortScience can inform blackberry growers on production practices and recommends management strategies to increase production and profits.

Emily Dixon, Bernadine Strik, and David Bryla evaluated the impacts of cultivar, weed management, primocane training time, and irrigation on plant nutrient status and soil pH, organic matter, and nutrients in a mature trailing production system. The study site at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora, Oregon, was certified organic and blackberry plants were machine-harvested for the processed market. The scientists assessed 'Marion' and 'Black Diamond' blackberries under nonweeded, hand-weeded, and weed mat management conditions, August and February primocane training times, and two irrigation strategies (continuous summer irrigation and no irrigation after fruit harvest).

The results showed that soil pH, organic matter content, and macronutrient concentrations were affected mainly by year and weed management strategy. "In general, soil under the weed mat had the highest pH, organic matter content, and concentration of several macronutrients," noted Bernadine Strik, corresponding author of the research. "The hand-weeded treatment had lower concentrations of several soil macronutrients than the nonweeded treatment."

Other outcomes revealed that blackberry cultivar had a limited effect on soil macronutrient concentration. Irrigation was found to affect most macronutrients, mostly through interactions with other treatments. The effects of primocane training time were variable. "Training primocanes in August increased the concentration of some nutrients in the aboveground plant, but August training is not recommended in 'Marion' because of the greater risk of cold damage in winter," the authors said.

"The results combined with the increased plant growth, yield, and profit gained from using weed mat rather than hand-weeding or no weeding indicate that weed mat is a very effective management tool in this organic system," the authors said. They recommended further studies designed to assess treatment effects on the below-ground portions of blackberry plants such as crowns and roots.

Explore further: Liquid corn, fish fertilizers 'good options' for organic blackberry production

More information: … ent/51/1/36.abstract

Related Stories

Weed blasting offers new control method for organic farmers

January 21, 2016

Weeds are a major scourge for organic growers, who often must invest in multiple control methods to protect crop yields. A relatively new weed control method known as abrasive weeding, or "weed blasting," could give organic ...

Sandwich system found effective in organic apple orchards

May 27, 2015

In organic apple orchards, one of the most serious challenges for growers is determining ways to limit weed competition while improving soil quality and ensuring high yields of quality apples. Scientists from the Swedish ...

New management methods extend blackberry season

December 11, 2009

Fruit 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 ...

Recommended for you

Study finds pollution is deadlier than war, disaster, hunger

October 20, 2017

Environmental pollution—from filthy air to contaminated water—is killing more people every year than all war and violence in the world. More than smoking, hunger or natural disasters. More than AIDS, tuberculosis and ...

Carbon coating gives biochar its garden-greening power

October 20, 2017

For more than 100 years, biochar, a carbon-rich, charcoal-like substance made from oxygen-deprived plant or other organic matter, has both delighted and puzzled scientists. As a soil additive, biochar can store carbon and ...

Cool roofs have water saving benefits too

October 20, 2017

The energy and climate benefits of cool roofs have been well established: By reflecting rather than absorbing the sun's energy, light-colored roofs keep buildings, cities, and even the entire planet cooler. Now a new study ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.