Weed Management, Training, and Irrigation Practices for Organic Production of Trailing Blackberry: III. Accumulation and Removal of Aboveground Biomass, Carbon, and Nutrients

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  • Relatively little is known about aboveground nutrient content of organic blackberry, and there is no published work on total carbon (C) content. Treatment effects on biomass, C, and nutrient content, accumulation, and removal were assessed over 2 years in a mature organic trailing blackberry (Rubus L. subgenus Rubus, Watson) production system that was machine harvested for the processed market. Treatments included two irrigation options (no irrigation after harvest and continuous summer irrigation), three weed management strategies (weed mat, hand-weeded, and nonweeded), and two primocane training times (August and February) in two cultivars (Black Diamond and Marion). Floricanes comprised an average of 45% of the total aboveground plant dry biomass, while primocanes and fruit comprised 30% and 25%, respectively. Depending on the treatment, the total aboveground dry biomass accumulation over the course of the season was 5.0–6.5 t·ha⁻¹ per year, while C stock of the planting was an estimated 0.4–1.1 t·ha⁻¹ in late winter. Carbon accounted for ≈50% of the dry biomass of each aboveground plant part, including primocanes, floricanes, and fruit. Weed management had the largest impact on plant biomass and nutrient content. No weed control reduced aboveground dry biomass, the content of nutrients in the primocanes, floricanes, and fruit, and the annual accumulation of dry biomass and nutrients, whereas use of weed mat resulted in the most dry biomass and nutrient content. Nutrient accumulation was similar between the cultivars, although February-trained ‘Marion’ plants had a greater removal of most nutrients in 2014 than the year prior. The amount of nitrogen (N) removed in the fruit was 22, 18, and 12 kg·ha⁻¹ for weed mat, hand-weeded, and nonweeded plots, respectively, in 2013. In 2014, ‘Marion’ and ‘Black Diamond’ differed in N removed in harvested fruit when grown with weed mat at 18 and 24 kg·ha⁻¹, respectively, whereas there was no cultivar effect when plants were grown in hand-weeded or nonweeded plots. Plots with weed mat tended to have the most nutrients removed through harvested fruit in both years. In 2014, N removal from August-trained ‘Marion’ was 5 kg·ha⁻¹ N less than the other training time and cultivar combinations. Plants that were irrigated throughout the summer accumulated more dry biomass, N, potassium (K), magnesium (Mg), sulfur (S), boron (B), and copper in one or both years than those that received no irrigation after fruit harvest. The irrigation treatment had inconsistent effects on nutrient content of each individual plant part between the two years. Removal of nutrients was often higher than what was applied through fertilization, especially for N, K, and B, which would eventually lead to depletion of those nutrients in the planting.
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  • Dixon, E. K., Strik, B. C., & Bryla, D. R. (2016). Weed Management, Training, and Irrigation Practices for Organic Production of Trailing Blackberry: III. Accumulation and Removal of Aboveground Biomass, Carbon, and Nutrients. HortScience, 51(1), 51-66.
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  • 51
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  • 1
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  • We appreciate research funding support provided by the Northwest Center for Small Fruits Research, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (Formula Grant no. OREI 2010-01940; ORE00409), our industry contributors.
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