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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1133: XI International Rubus and Ribes Symposium

Cultivar comparison and winter row covers for blackberry production in North Dakota

Authors:   D. Mettler, H. Hatterman-Valenti
Keywords:   blackberry, cultivars, winter hardiness, row covers, Midwest
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1133.33
Blackberry (Rubus subgenus Rubus) production has the potential to expand into the upper Midwest and northern Great Plains regions, but this industry growth will only occur with the evaluation of new cultivars and overwinter protection methods. This field study was designed to evaluate blackberry cultivars and winter row cover protection methods in a rotating cross-arm trellis system. Ten blackberry cultivars ('Kiowa', 'Osage', 'Ouachita', 'Illini Hardy', 'Arapaho', 'Chester', 'Triple Crown', 'Natchez', 'Apache', and 'Doyle's'), under four row cover treatments (black plastic with corn stover, black plastic with wheat straw, thermal blanket with corn stover, and thermal blanket without mulch), were evaluated for hardiness and percentage of cane dieback by checking for viable green phloem in the spring. Thermo-couples were used to monitor the temperature at the soil surface under each row cover treatment. Results indicated that all row cover treatments except the thermal blanket alone moderated minimum and maximum temperatures compared to the outside air temperature. Higher bud survival and total live buds occurred when the thermal blanket with corn stover was used and was attributed to greater temperature moderation. 'Kiowa', 'Osage', and 'Chester' generally had lower live bud and cane percentages, total live buds and live cane length compared to the other cultivars. In contrast, 'Illini Hardy' generally had the greatest live bud and cane percentages, total live buds and live cane length. However, 'Illini Hardy' generally did not differ from 'Natchez', 'Ouachita', 'Triple Crown', 'Arapaho', 'Apache', or 'Doyle's'. It is anticipated that fruit yield and quality data collected during the next two seasons will help identify the cultivars to recommend for a production area like North Dakota.

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