BERRY PRODUCTION

Course CodeBHT309
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Berries are an Important Horticultural Crop

Berry fruits are popular the world over. Some berries are grown widely, in different climates and countries (e.g. strawberries), whilst others might be popular in some regions but not others.

Irrespective of what type of berries you choose to grow, you need to understand some of the basics of general horticulture practice.

Growing any type of plant can be unpredictable and different techniques may be used in different parts of the world (e.g. the best way of growing a strawberry in the UK may be different to the best way for a tropical country). For this reason it is always important to keep in mind the conditions that a book or magazine article is talking about - a blueberry grower in Northern New South Wales Australia, or Florida America may have a different approach to a blueberry grower in Nova Scotia. There can also be great variations over relatively small distances in such things as rainfall, wind and soil type. A particular might produce higher yields in one valley than in an adjoining valley due to climatic variations. This does not mean that information from other areas is not useful it just means you need to assimilate new information in relation to what you already know.

Lesson Structure

  1. Introduction
    • Review of the system of plant identification
    • Plant Families, Species, Cultivars, Varieties
    • What is a Berry -Botanical Characteristics (Simple fruits, Compound Fruits)
    • Information contacts (ie: nurseries, seed, clubs etc.)
  2. Which Varieties to Grow
    • Site Selection,
    • How much land
    • Site Chjaracteristics
    • Climate
    • Winter Chilling Requirements
    • Biological Considerations
    • Further Considerations affecting what to Grow
    • Review of Significant Berries including
    • Blackcurrant
    • Blueberry
    • Brambleberry
    • Blackberry
    • Other Rubus species
    • Cranberry
    • Gooseberry
    • Grape
    • Kiwi Fruit
    • Passionfruit
    • Raspberry
    • Strawberry
  3. Lesser Grown Varieties of Berry Plants
    • Alpine Strawberry
    • Cape Gooseberry
    • Elderberry
    • Goji berry
    • Guava
    • Hardy Kiwi Fruit
    • Lignoberry
    • Pepino
    • Tree Tomato
    • Mulberry
    • Production Plan for Berry Cropping
  4. Culture
    • Soils
    • Planting
    • Staking
    • Mulching
    • Watering
    • Pest & disease
    • Feeding
    • Pruning
    • Protection from wind, salt, air, etc.
  5. Propagation
    • Methods of propagating berries
    • Seed, Cuttings, Layering
    • Aids to Propagation
    • Hardening off Young Plants
    • Propagation of selected varieties
  6. Weed Control & Irrigation
    • What is a Weed
    • How Weeds Spread
    • Preventative methods of Control
    • Eliminating growing weeds
    • Identifying Weeds
    • Water Infiltration and Retention
    • Drainage
    • Improving water Infiltration
    • Soil Moisture Classes
    • Measuring Water Available to Plants
    • When to Irrigate
    • Irrigating Berry Crops
  7. Harvesting & Marketing Berries
    • When and How to Harvest
    • Understanding Fruit Ripening
    • Harvesting Techniques
    • Post Harvest Treatments
  8. Commercial Berry Growing
    • Marketing Berries
    • The Marketing Process
    • Understanding Supply and Demand
    • Cost, Quality and Quantity characteristics in a Crop
    • Farm Layout for Better Management

Aims

  • Differentiate different types of berry fruit cultivars.
  • Select varieties of berry fruit suitable for growing for any locality.
  • Explain the cultural treatment for a range of berry fruits, in specified situations.
  • Determine how to propagate a range of different berry plants.
  • Explain the harvesting of different berry crops.
  • Develop strategies for commercial success in a berry fruit enterprise.

What You Will Do

  • Here are just some of the things you will be doing:
  • Distinguish between common and botanical definitions for the term berry.
  • Compare the botanical characteristics of berry fruits from different plant families that produce berry fruits.
  • Prepare reviews of different berry varieties, including the following details on each plant:
    • Plant names (Common and scientific)
    • A photo, illustration or pressed specimen
    • Cultural details
    • Harvest and post harvest
    • Uses (eg. valuable products).
  • Develop criteria for the selection of suitable berry fruit varieties, to grow in a specified locality.
  • Evaluate the performance of four different berry varieties growing in a specific locality.
  • Determine appropriate varieties of different berries to grow in a specified locality, including:
    • Strawberries
    • Brambles
    • Other berries.
  • Describe an appropriate planting method for each of specified genera of berry fruits.
  • Illustrate an appropriate pruning methods for each of different genera of berry fruits, using sequences of drawings, photographs, or video.
  • Determine appropriate irrigation practices for different, specified berry plantings.
  • Develop feeding programs for a twelve month period, for different berry crops suited to growing in a particular locality.
  • Conduct simple soil tests to determine soil characteristics relevant to a proposed berry planting in a particular locality. Soil tests should include:
    • Soil type
    • Water holding capacity
    • pH
    • Drainage
  • Recommend appropriate soil preparation for the tested soil, prior to planting a specified berry crop.
  • Compare different weed control practices appropriate for berry crops.
  • Develop soil maintenance programs for a twelve month period, on a monthly basis, for different berry crops.
  • Identify different health disorders (e.g. pests and diseases) on berry plants.
  • Develop a pest and disease control program for a twelve month period, for a specified berry crop.
  • Describe different methods for propagating specified berry plants, including:
    • Cuttings
    • Runners
    • Division
    • Layering
  • Demonstrate cutting propagation of different berry species.
  • Produce marketable berry plants representing different genera, either as bare rooted or container plants.
  • Compare the commercial viability of propagating a specified berry by alternative propagation techniques.
  • Explain how to determine when different types of berries are ready for harvest.
  • Describe different methods for harvesting different types of berries, including:
    • Manual
    • Mechanical
  • Explain the harvesting of types of berries before they are ripe, and ripening of the berries off the plant.
  • Determine appropriate post-harvest treatments for a specified commercial berry crop.
  • Develop a resource file of different items of information relevant to the berry fruit industry, including:
    • Suppliers of berry plants
    • Trade or grower associations
    • Publications
  • Determine criteria which are significant in the commercial success of a specific berry farm.
  • Explain how a range of different berries are prepared for the market.
  • Prepare a chart of different berry species listing their shelf life.
  • Evaluate the commercial viability of different methods of packaging and presenting berries for sale.
  • Compare common marketing strategies for berry fruits, including:
    • Selling at wholesale markets
    • Selling on contract to chain stores
    • Selling to processors
    • Roadside stalls
    • U-pick selling
  • Develop a marketing plan for a berry fruit.

CONSIDER THE RASPBERRY 

(Rubus idaeus) Family: Rosaceae

Raspberries are an ideal small fruit crop for small scale production. However initial investment requirements are quite high; preparation of the land, suitable growing trellis and an irrigation system can be expensive to install. However once the initial capital is spent on establishment on-going costs are relatively low particularly for small farm production.

Raspberries generally fruit from between 6 and 20 years. A short shelf life can present problems for small growers that do not have cool rooms or quick market access. The growing season is also short so producers would need to have other crops to sustain the farm's operation out of season. Raspberries (red) have chilling requirements so they are also limited to where they can be grown ie. cool regions are required.

Description: this is essentially similar to other brambles, although having smaller thorns. Its requirements are the same, but its culture differs in the manner of pruning and training. In this regard, the lawtonberry/black raspberry (R. occidentalis) may also be treated similarly.

Culture: Moist, neutral, light soils and summer irrigation are required to successfully grow raspberries. Because they fruit late in the season raspberries are unaffected by frost. Although raspberries are a woodland plant and accustomed to some shade full sun with rows running north - south is ideal.

Soils should be well dug and a generous amount of compost incorporated before planting.

Plant raspberries in autumn in well prepared trenches 45cm apart and cover the roots with soil 5cm above the soil line on the canes, cut the canes back to 15cm to encourage a vigorous root system and healthy plant growth the following season. The plants should be discouraged from fruiting in the first season. This can be accomplished by removing all of the previous year's canes in the first month of summer when the fruit just starts to swell.

Work some blood and bone into the surface of the soil at the rate of approx 1 handful per square metre and water the area well.

Raspberries may be grown either on a hedgerow system (about 45cm apart) or a bush system (up to 2m apart) in rows 2 ‑ 3m apart. In the former case, a trellis of two parallel wires is used with strands at 0.7m and 1.4m respectively. In the latter case, the canes are tied up to stakes and limited in number depending on the distance between plants.

Summer fruiting raspberries grow from this year's shoots on last year's branches; prune these varieties from the second year onwards by cutting down all of the previous year's branches (those that have fruited) down to 15cm and also any weak shoots, directly after harvest in mid summer ie. January in the Southern Hemisphere, and July in the Northern Hemisphere. The remaining shoots are the tied to the support wires as they grow throughout the summer. In some varieties an autumn crop may be produced by tipping the late developing canes when they reach the first wire. Others are left to fruit the following summer. Autumn fruiting canes are pruned in the same way in early winter.

 

WHY STUDY THIS COURSE?

 

Different people study this course for different reasons; for example:

  • Students of horticulture wanting to get a solid understanding of berry growing
  • Farmers looking to move into new crops
  • People already working in the berry industry may take this course for professional development: to refresh, update or fill the gaps in their knowledge.
 

 

 
 

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