October 2000 // Volume 38 // Number 5 // Tools of the Trade // 5TOT3

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Brambles - Production, Management, and Marketing: An Ohio State University Extension Bulletin

Ohio State University Extension Bulletin 782-99, Brambles - Production, Management, and Marketing, is a comprehensive guide on raspberries and blackberries. This article describes those features of the bulletin that make it particularly useful as a reference and tool for county horticultural Extension Agents, as well as for commercial berry growers and serious backyard gardeners.

Gary Gao
Horticulture Extension Agent
Ohio State University Extension
Clermont County, Ohio
Internet address: Gao.2@osu.edu

Brambles such as raspberries and blackberries are extensively grown in Ohio and many parts of the United States. These fruits are an ideal crop for both large and small farms. Ohio State University Extension Bulletin 782-99, Brambles - Production, Management, and Marketing, is a comprehensive guide on raspberries and blackberries for commercial growers and Extension professionals. Published in 1999, this bulletin was written by six Extension specialists at The Ohio State University and is a revision of a 1988 bulletin.

The revised bulletin is 92 pages long and contains 56 high-quality color photos, 9 black and white drawings, and 19 easy-to-read tables. It provides more extensive review of bramble cultivars, more in-depth discussion of bramble disease and weed management, more current cost and profit analysis, and more color photos and clearer illustrations than the earlier version. I've found the revised bulletin to be a useful tool in my work as a county horticultural Extension Agent.

The bulletin is divided into six chapters covering

  • Management,
  • Site selection,
  • Selection and care of plants,
  • Insects and mites,
  • Integrated management of bramble diseases, and Marketing.

Chapter 1 discusses the management of bramble production. Potential bramble growers were asked to assess their production skills and market potential in their area to determine the size of their operation. I found drawings of the bramble plant quite helpful when I taught botanical terms and fruiting habits of raspberries and blackberries to fruit growers.

Chapter 2, "Site Selection," contains an in-depth discussion of such key factors as soil type and natural fertility, water drainage, air drainage, wind protection, sunlight, water availability, isolation from wild brambles, and previous crops in the field. I was very glad that growers were reminded to select and prepare the planting site 1 to 2 years before the plants are actually established. There is also an excellent discussion on adding organic matter, soil testing for pH adjustments and nutrients modification, weed and insect control, soil fumigation, and sod establishment when preparing the planting site.

I have found Chapter 3 "Selection and Care of Bramble Plants," especially helpful. The precise and comprehensive description of many proven raspberry and blackberry cultivars in this bulletin, enables growers to select appropriate raspberry and blackberry cultivars based on their local climate and needs. In addition, important attributes of these cultivars are also listed in tabular forms for easy reference. Planting techniques, fertilization, and weed control strategies for both pre-plant site preparation and established plantings are thoroughly discussed so growers can get their bramble planting established quickly. I especially appreciate the clear illustrations provided in the section on pruning of various types of raspberries and blackberries, because pruning is a very difficult concept to convey.

Chapter 4, "Insects and Mites," contains numerous high-quality color photos showing bramble insects, mites, and their respective damage that have been useful to me as I work with growers in pest diagnostics. I was glad to see life cycles and the cultural controls suggested for bramble insects. However, I wish there were more in-depth discussion of the efficacy and timing of pesticides labeled for brambles.

Chapter 5, "Integrated Management of Bramble Diseases," contains many high-quality color photos that aid in the diagnosis of fungal, bacterial, and viral diseases. It also includes a useful table, "Bramble Disease Control Strategies," that outlines common bramble diseases and their management strategies in an easy-to-read format. In addition, it recommends important cultural practices such as selecting disease-resistant cultivars, crop rotation, weed control, proper fertilization, and plant population and canopy management, and discusses effective fungicides and their timing.

Chapter 6, "Marketing," addresses the nuts and bolts of bramble marketing. Some of the factors discussed are pricing, handling the customers, containers, and advertising. There are also 10 tables devoted to estimated overhead costs, cost for trucks, cost for refrigeration, and internal rates of return for various production systems and farm sizes.

In brief, I strongly believe that The Ohio State University's Extension Bulletin 782-99, Brambles - Production, Management, and Marketing, is a handy reference and diagnostic tool for agricultural and horticultural Extension Agents, and commercial fruit growers.

The bulletin is available for $6.50 plus tax and shipping through local county offices of Ohio State University Extension, or Media Distribution, Ohio State University Extension, 385 Kottman Hall, 2021 Coffey Road, Columbus, Ohio 43210-1044, (614) 292-1607. The bulletin is also available on the Internet: <http://ohioline.ag.ohio-state.edu/b782/index.html>.