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What's Happening at Our Farms?

by Sherri Sanders - April 7, 2017

The growers are providing primary site preparation prior to planting and will cooperate with investigators to establish each trial, including drip irrigation and trellis systems.

Experiments are being established on two commercial farms in northern and east-central Arkansas and northeast Texas (Sta-N-Step Farm near Fayetteville, AR, and Gillam Farms of Arkansas, near Judsonia, AR, respectively and Moss Berry Farm in eastern Texas) to evaluate the effects of mineral particle film applications during the late season on blackberry production and on arthropod pests and diseases. 

Picture of Blackberry Rows
Picture of sensor cords secured to logger
Picture of sensor cords
Securing sensor cords to logger (4 ft height) and parafilm over connection of 20 ft extension cord to 6 ft cord of micro sensor.   Using 6 ft sensor cord in plots either side of logger and 20 ft extension cord+sensor to two outer plots.

Experiments at all three sites will be randomized complete blocks with four replications of each of the following treatments:

1) Surround WP®applied weekly during July-September;

2) Surround WP® applied weekly plus conventional integrated pest management practices;

3) No Surround WP® but use conventional integrated pest management practices, and

4) No Surround WP® and no disease or insect control. 

Picture of three blackberries on stem

Picture of frosted blackberry leaves

Leaf temperatures will be monitored in all plots throughout the season. In addition, plots will be monitored for spotted wing drosophila, broad mites, spider mites and stink bugs, and weekly inspections and severity ratings will be made for anthracnose, cane blight, rosette, or other diseases.

Fruit yield as well as quality will be measured by weekly inspections of 10 random berries for anthracnose, grey mold, and SWD larval infestation and weekly berry yield, marketable yield and total berry yield.

Grower inputs will be recorded during the two years of the study and a spreadsheet-based interactive sustainable enterprise budget for blackberries based on best practices for production in the southern US (Rodriguez et al., 2015a) will be used to determine the economics of the system. 

Outreach and outcome evaluation will be through traditional dissemination methods including fact sheets, videos, and field days, with novel digital strategies.  Digital strategies proposed to re-purpose and expand the reach of these methods dedicated web page/presence, Twitter feeds and Periscope video broadcasts (during project implementation and crop monitoring), and live/real-time interactive webinars and a virtual field trip to deliver educational content and engage participants in proof-of-concept analysis and active learning.

Picture of blackberry plant