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[This summary has been extracted, with permission, from a report by the USDA Risk Management Agency, Risk and Evaluation Divisions; the full report is available on: http://www.act.fcic.usda.gov/research/feasible.html
To contact the agency:
United States Department of Agriculture
Risk Management Agency/Risk Management Education
Room 6755, Stop Code 0803
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250-0803
Bramble fruits include blackberries, raspberries, and hybrids (or genetic combinations) of the two crops belonging to Rubus spp.
In the U.S., large-scale commercial bramble production is located almost exclusively in states along the Pacific Coast. According to the 1992 Census of Agriculture, California, Oregon, and Washington reported 76 percent of the harvested U.S. raspberry acreage. California and Oregon accounted for 69 percent of the harvested U.S. blackberry acreage in 1992, and were also major producers of boysenberries. Oregon is the main producer of loganberries. The remaining bramble fruit production is scattered in small plantings throughout the United States.
Raspberry and blackberry plants have perennial roots and biennial shoots. The roots continue to grow for the life of the planting, but new above-ground shoots (canes) develop each year from crown buds or buds on the roots. Canes produce vegetative growth the first summer and form flower buds in the fall. These buds bloom the following spring and bear fruit during the summer. After bearing, the canes die, completing their life cycle. Some red raspberry varieties are distinguished by their ability to initiate flower buds on primocanes during their first summer and produce fruit that fall. Cultivars with this growth habit are known variously as ever-bearing, fall-fruiting, or primocane-bearing raspberries, and are being widely used as a means of extending the fresh fruit marketing season.
Except in the western commercial production areas, brambles tend to be grown in small plantings. The U.S. Census of Agriculture reported 4,639 farms with 15,899 harvested acres of raspberries and 2,619 farms with 6,994 harvested acres of blackberries in 1992.
For those states other than California, Oregon, and Washington, there were 3,522 farms with raspberries and 2,082 with blackberries, and, on average, they harvested just over one acre each. Many of these farms had less than one acre.
More than 95 percent of the bramble fruit grown in Washington and Oregon is sold for processing. Although the usage breakdown between fresh market and processing is not reported, California brambles are grown mainly for the fresh market. Berries may be diverted to processing when fresh-market prices are low or if the berries are of low quality. Central California is an important fresh-market strawberry area and shippers use the fresh-market infrastructure developed for strawberries to handle and sell raspberries. Although statistics are not available for other states, the fresh market, especially direct-to-consumer sales, reportedly accounts for the bulk of marketings.
Climate, chiefly temperature, is the most important factor affecting the geographic distribution of commercial bramble production. Summer and winter temperatures can be either too hot or too cold for successful berry production. Raspberries and blackberries need to have an extended period during the winter with temperatures below 7 C before they can resume growth in the spring. Failure to satisfy this requirement results in reduced flower bud growth in the spring and diminished yields. However, extreme low temperatures may kill raspberry and blackberry canes, basal buds, and even the entire plant. Winter injury reportedly is the most serious production peril for both raspberries and blackberries. In general, red raspberries are more hardy than are the black and purple cultivars.
An additional, frequently-cited cause of yield loss among raspberries is root rot, which occurs when the soil is excessively wet. Excessive rains and excessive heat in combination at harvest-time were cited as conditions that contribute to diseases and quality degradation, especially among raspberries. Brambles are also subject to a number of other perils, such as hail, wind, and various insect and disease pests.
Because of their large commercial acreage, the greatest potential for bramble crop insurance exists in California, Oregon, and Washington. Some growers in Washington have indicated an interest in insurance.
Any claims made by authors in the Australian New Crops Newsletter are presented by the Editors in good faith. Readers would be wise to critically examine the circumstances associated with any claims to determine the applicability of such claims to their specific set of circumstances. This material can be reproduced, with the provision that the source and the author (or editors, if applicable) are acknowledged and the use is for information or educational purposes. Contact with the original author is probably wise since the material may require updating or amendment if used in other publications. Material sourced from the Australian New Crops Newsletter cannot be used out of context or for commercial purposes not related to its original purpose in the newsletter
Contact: Dr Rob Fletcher, School of Land and Food, The University of Queensland Gatton College, 4345; Telephone: 07 5460 1311 or 07 5460 1301; Facsimile: 07 5460 1112; International facsimile: 61 7 5460 1112; Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
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originally created by:GK; latest update 17 October 2001 by: RF