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Project Updates

Berry Updates-Year Three Summary

Farmer Adam : September 27, 2012 10:15 pm : Farm Updates, Raspberry Research, Research

The Final Year of Research

This year we experienced out first real production from the berries. several varieties produced well, while several others did not produce well at all. The less productive varieties where the same varieties that froze back to the ground last winter. Some varieties produced a late crop in September, but these were hurt this year by a lack of water – our irrigation went off August 2, about a month earlier than usual. We did have a couple of rains later in the season, but it wasn’t enough and the berries clearly suffered from the stress caused by  lack of water.

The link below takes you to the embedded data table where we tracked all of the harvest from the last three years. Each variety was trapped in each harvest was recorded. Also we took several measurements of berry size by counting the number of berries required to fill Half pint container. Please note that the link below contains a spreadsheet with two separate sheets one she is for the quantity harvested, the other sheet is for the berry sizes.

View Berry research data tables

Summary of Findings

Overall one of the biggest overall conclusions was the importance of frost hardy varieties for our area. Even in the mild winter of 2011 – 2012, several varieties froze to the ground greatly reducing the following years harvest. Another important conclusion from the commercial harvesting perspective, is that blackberries are much easier to pick than raspberries. The thornless BlackBerry varieties we grew were exceptionally easy to deal with and harvest off of. In addition, the consistently large berry size of the BlackBerries meant that filling pints of berries went much more quickly. As I add to the Berry patch I plan to plant mostly BlackBerries from this point on.

The Berry Varieties – Observations & Results

Freeze Sensitivity

The following varieties have frozen back to the ground each winter. These berries produce a fall crop for us, but it comes late enough that freeze threatens it – the best crop is the main summer crop which is borne on the canes from the previous year. When the canes freeze back to the ground, we don’t get this crop. For this reason, I would be hesitant to plant more of these varieties. The blackberry varieties produced incredibly long canes, 12-18 ft. ties these up was a lot of work, in the future i’m going to trim the last 1/3-1/2 of the length which died back anyway.
  • Heritage Everbearing
  • Polana Everbearing
The following varieties showed little or no cane die bak, and produced a stronger crop for us
  • Killarny Red Raspberry
  • Triple Crown thornless Blackberry (very long canes, ends died back)
  • Chester Thornfree Blackberry (very long canes, even more died back)
  • Encore Summer Fruiting Raspberry
  • Nova Summer Fruiting Raspberry
  • Bristol Summer Fruiting Black Raspberry
  • Encore Summer Fruiting Raspberry
  • Nova Summer Fruiting Raspberry

Size and Ease of Picking

Picking berries is hard work, even with the plants tied up on trellises, picking involves plenty of hunting through thorny canes. The reward is a delicious crop, but for the farm to profit, it also needs to be quick enough to pick that it pays to hire someone to pick it.

The raspberries were generally small and it took an average of 109 raspberries to fill a 6 oz container. The blackberries were consistently larger, with the smallest blackberry matching the largest raspberry. It took an average of only 41 blackberries to fill a 6 oz container. In addition, the thornless blackberries were truly thorn free, almost soft to the touch. they were a pleasure to work in, for all stages of production – pruning, trellising and harvest. Unless the market becomes saturated, I would plant these thornless blackberries over any of the other berries. Chester stands out as the biggest producer in out trials. On the raspberry side, Kilarny was the clear winner, producing early and over a long period with large berry size. Bristol, the only black raspberry in our trial, was also a large producer, and although the berries were small on average, they were borne in exposed clusters, making them a bit easier to harvest.

Final Pictures

These pictures show the drought damage on some of the berries this year.

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Berry Update Spring 2012

Farmer Adam : June 3, 2012 2:36 am : Raspberry Research, Research

The berries came back very strong this spring.  We thinned out the canes while they were still dormant and several varieties showed strong growth, although several also froze back to their bases. This winter was relatively mild, with low temperatures never below 0 so the die back was surprising and I am considering a protective cover over these more  sensitive varieties (see below).  Several varieties were frozen back to their bases and some varieties came back only partially up the cane. Here is a summary:

  • Heritage was frozen back to the ground., all new growth is coming from the roots and we will need to thin these as they are very thick.
  • Polana was frozen back and came back from the ground
  • Kilarny showed strong early growth with no winter freeze damage.
  • Triple Crown gap crown came back strongly but longer canes were partially frozen, these were very long canes and the top half are frozen.
  • Chester was frozen back even further down, lower on the canes.
  • Bristol showed little sign of any damage.
  • Nova showed little sign of damage.
  • Encore showed little damage.

The slideshow below shows each variety. The photos are in pairs, the 1st being the row end label, the next being a shot of the canes around May 21st 2012.

 

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Berry Updates – Year Two Summary

Farmer Adam : September 19, 2011 6:31 pm : Raspberry Research, Research

Summary of Progress

Well established plantings.

This spring we completed the trellis building project and set up the berries for trellising. Over the summer we have continued to tie the berries to the T shaped wire trellises – setting the stage for next year’s harvest. Some canes have reached the top wires (at 5′) and continued to grow feet beyond (we are tying these back to the trellises). Other varieties have just reached the mid-wire height (around 3′). Each berry page on this site includes a picture of the berry on that page where the growth can be seen visually. See the Berry varieties page.

We harvested berries for around six weeks in the spring, picked 2 or 3 times a week, but rarely getting over a pint of any particular variety. Because of the limited quantity we weren’t abe to get a berry size (obtained by counting berries per pint). This fall a couple of varieties have started producing again and we are calculating size on these which are producing more. The harvest was very limited this year, but the patch has continued to get more established and has filled in quite a bit. This fall we will thin the berries where they have filled in to around one cane per foot on average.

Some berries showed signs of nutrient deficiencies early in the season (especially Encore), but cleared up after some time. I am injecting fertilizer into the irrigation system and plan to add a micronutrient rich kelp based fertilizer to the mix soon (so far I’ve used a fish based product).

Harvest Report

Polana

The second year overall harvest were low. The initial year did establish a nice patch of berries, but the vines didn’t grow that far, most reaching just 2-4′. Then, our area suffered a colder than normal winter and many of the 1st year vines were frozen back to the ground.  The lack of established vines greatly reduced harvest.

This fall we have had a resurgence of two varieties – Polana, which is producing a large flush of huge fruit on this year’s canes (primocanes) and Heritage – considered a very reliable producer – which is also filling in. These berries are coming in later than usual, they should be earlier in most years.

The harvest records spreadsheet clearly shows the low quantities. The record also shows the late harvest we are experiencing now. This year everything has been 2-3 weeks later than usual  – for all our crops, vegetables and fruits alike. See the Harvest Records page.

Next Year

Looking forward to next year, I am anticipating a much larger harvest and a better understanding of the relative merits of each of the berry varieties we are trialing. The harvest should be significantly larger – the established vines are much stronger and larger than last fall.

Fall 2011 Berry Patch Photos

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Berry Research Harvest Records

Farmer Adam : September 4, 2011 1:46 am : Expenses, Farm Updates, Raspberry Research, Research

This is the harvest record document used to track the harvest record for all berries.

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Berry Update: Year One Summary

Farmer Adam : April 4, 2011 1:52 am : Raspberry Research, Research

This post is a summary of what happened in the first year of the project.

First Year Accomplishments

  • Established planting area for berries
  • Set up complete irrigation system for berries
  • Plant all berries, with ground cover
  • Build Elk/Deer fencing to protect planting
  • Establish website  berries.roundearth.com to track all project progress
  • begin building berry trellising

Check out the progress so far on the berry research project website

 

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Berry Updates – Well Established Berries Slideshow

Farmer Adam : August 16, 2010 3:26 pm : Farm Pictures, Farm Updates, Raspberry Research, Research

Here is a slideshow of some recent photos showing how well established the new berry planting is. For the best view, click the full screen button in the slideshow footer.

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Berry Update ~ Fences, Trellises & Berries!

Farmer Adam : July 11, 2010 12:26 am : Farm Pictures, Farm Updates, Raspberry Research, Research

Fences & Trellises

Work continues in the new berry planting area. The fence is now nearly complete – all the posts are in, with both heights of high tinsel wire stretched and the final lengths of barb going on today. The contractor I hired to do the work has been steadily chipping away at what seemed like a huge project when it began and the fence is just a week or two away from being done.
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Berry Update: ground cover & drip irrigation

Farmer Adam : May 23, 2010 4:57 pm : Farm Updates, Raspberry Research, Research

Installing the woven ground cover

The task of laying the ground cover out, to cover each side of the eight trellised berry rows has begun. I dug the side furrows with the tractor, this furrow takes the outer edge of the ground cover fabric, while the inner edge is pinned down with a 6″ ground staple along the berry row. This process is very labor intensive with lots of rocks to clear, digging and pinning. I’ll try to take some more detailed shots of this part of the project soon, but for now here is a far-off shot of the berries with the (black) ground fabric visible.

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Berries starting to leaf out! Encore leads the pack.

Farmer Adam : May 9, 2010 3:06 am : Encore Summer Fruiting Raspberry, Nova Summer Fruiting Raspberry, Raspberry Research, Research

The berries have started to bud out. Encore in particular is already in full leaf, Nova is showing leaves, and the rest of the varieties are just barely exposing buds.

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The Berries are Planted!

Farmer Adam : April 26, 2010 2:26 am : Farm Pictures, Raspberry Research

Over the last few weeks I completed the prep work on the new berry project site. All but berry order has arrived, and we planted all the berries that we had – eight of the ten total berry beds.
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