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Title: Organic production systems research in blueberry and blackberry – A review of industry-driven studies

item STRIK, BERNADINE - Oregon State University
item VANCE, AMANDA - Oregon State University
item Bryla, David

Submitted to: Acta Horticulturae
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/15/2015
Publication Date: 6/1/2016
Citation: Strik, B.C., Vance, A., Bryla, D.R. 2016. Organic production systems research in blueberry and blackberry – A review of industry-driven studies. Acta Horticulturae. 1117:139-148. doi: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1117.23.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Organic berry production is expected to expand further in the future as consumer demand continues to increase and growers become more interested in higher-value niche markets. To help growers target these markets, long-term organic systems trials were established at Oregon State University’s North Willamette Research and Extension Center (Aurora, OR, USA) for blueberry in 2006 and for blackberry in 2010. Each planting is 0.4 ha and was certified organic (Oregon Tilth) prior to the first fruit harvest. Both trials are based on industry-driven priorities and were designed through communication with an advisory group consisting of organic and conventional growers, wholesale fruit packers, and research and extension faculty. Initial challenges included finding economical weed and nutrient management tools and adapted cultivars of both crops. Cumulative yield with various production systems ranged from 21 to 60 t/ha in blueberry (2008-13) and 13 to 26 t/ha in blackberry (2012-13). Successful outcomes include information on differences between cultivars in ease of management in organic production; sensitivity of blueberry to high N fertilizer rates (also a problem in conventional systems); benefits of compost to blueberry nutrient management; impacts of weeds on blackberry yield; establishing plantings using drip irrigation and fertigation with fish emulsion; and the successful use of weed mat to increase yield compared to sawdust mulch in blueberry and hand-weeding in blackberry. Growers now have better management options for organic fertilization and weed management, and many have shifted to using weed mat mulch in organic and conventional plantings and are fertigating more economically with fish emulsion.