Weed Management Practices for Organic Production of Trailing Blackberry: I. Plant Growth and Early Fruit Production Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/articles/nv935484f

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  • Weed management practices were evaluated in a new field of trailing blackberry (Rubus L. subgenus Rubus Watson) established in western Oregon. The field was planted in May 2010 and certified organic in May 2012. Treatments included two cultivars, Marion and Black Diamond, grown in 1) non-weeded plots, where weeds were cut to the ground just before harvest; 2) hand-weeded plots, hoed two to three times per year; and 3) weed mat plots, covered with black landscape fabric. Each treatment was fertilized with fish emulsion and irrigated by drip. Weeds increased from 2010 through 2012 in both non-weeded and hand-weeded plots and required 38 and 90 h·ha⁻¹ of labor to remove the weeds in the latter treatment in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Weeds in weed mat plots, in comparison, were confined primarily to the planting holes in the fabric and required only 1 h·ha⁻¹ of labor for weed removal each year. Blackberry growth, in terms of number and dry weight of the primocanes, was similar among treatments during the first year after planting but differed with cultivar and weed management the next season. In 2011, ‘Black Diamond’ produced shorter but an average of three more primocanes per plant than ‘Marion’, whereas plants in hand-weeded and weed mat plots produced nearly twice as many primocanes as non-weeded plots. Hence, when fruit were produced on floricanes (the previous year’s primocanes) for the first time in 2012, ‘Black Diamond’ had 15% more yield than ‘Marion’, and weed control increased yield by 67% with hand-weeding and 100% with weed mat, on average. ‘Black Diamond’ and weed control also produced larger berries (measured as average individual fruit weight) with a greater water content but a lower soluble solids concentration. So far, of the three practices studied, weed mat was best suited to organic production of blackberries. The initial cost of the weed mat was far less than the cost of hand-weeding during the first 3 years after planting, and after only one season of fruit production, the yield benefit of weed mat provided enough profit to warrant its use over no weeding or hand-weeding.
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  • Harkins, R. H., Strik, B. C., & Bryla, D. R. (2013). Weed Management Practices for Organic Production of Trailing Blackberry: I. Plant Growth and Early Fruit Production. HortScience, 48(9), 1139-1144.
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