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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A successful Small Fruits Field Day

Small fruit field day attendees travel by tractor to the IR-4 blackberry planting. Photo: HJB

The 4th NCSU/NCDA & CS Small Fruit Field Day was held yesterday, June 22nd, at the Sandhills Research Station in Jackson Springs, NC. Although temperatures were in the 90s at the start of the event, we had an excellent turn out. About 175 growers, master gardeners, cooperative extension agents, research station personnel, and others joined us to learn about cultural, disease, weed, and insect management in blackberries, blueberries, and grapes. Following remarks by NCSU CALS Research Director David Smith, Assistant NCDA & CS Commissioner Richard Reich, and station superintendent Jeff Chandler, attendees were loaded onto tractor trailers and cycled through presentations by NCSU extension specialists.

Gina Fernandez, NC State Horticulture Department, fresh off sabbatical in South Africa, discussed blackberry and raspberry variety selection and cultural management. Bill Cline, NC State Plant Pathology, covered blueberry disease management. Connie Fisk demonstrated proper muscadine grape training, and Katie Jennings shared information on weed management in small fruits. Both Connie and Katie are also in the NC State Horticulture Department. Roger Batts, from the IR-4 Program, who conducts much of his work at the Sandhills Station, explained IR-4's mission (more here) and detailed the new pesticides that will be soon available due to their work.

One of the highlights of the Small Fruits Field Day is the opportunity to taste in season fruits straight off the plant! Here attendees sample Kiowa blackberries, a thorny variety known for its large fruit. Photo: HJB

In addition to these presentation, I presented 2 of the projects we are working on at Sandhills. We have a spider mite management trial which is currently underway, and we are waiting for the Japanese and green June beetles to show up for a second trial. I will be placing Japanese beetle lures this Friday to foster a population--don't try this at home!

I also described a small blackberry psyllid trial we plan to begin and out ongoing spotted wing drosophila monitoring program. You can read more about blackberry psyllid here. This is an interesting, little studied potential pest of caneberries.

The field day was sponsored by FMC, DuPont, SunnyRidge, Valent, the North Carolina Commercial Blackberry and Raspberry Growers Association, and the North American Rasberry and Blackberry Association. Thanks to these sponsors for their generous support!

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