Jun 20, 2018
Conditions entering season lead to stellar berry crop

Marvin Pritts, a horticulture professor and small fruit specialist at Cornell University, said a later winter combined with cooler weather in April produced a strawberry crop that is smaller than in years past, but that same cool weather set up the blueberry and raspberry crops for a remarkable season.

Pritts designed the Berry Diagnostic Tool, a pictorial aid to help diagnose physiological disorders and pest problems of berry crops.

A Cornell student harvests strawberries from a research field on campus. Photo: Matt Hayes

“Strawberry harvest is in full swing,” Pritts said. “The weather has been cooperative – not too hot or cold and not too much rain. The winter was a little too long for strawberries, so the crop is not as large as it could have been had it not been so cold in April. The good news from a long winter and relatively dry spring weather is that pest problems seem to be minimal this year.

Cornell students inspect strawberries at a research field testing the use of low tunnels to extend the growing season. Photo: Matt Hayes

“For blueberries and raspberries: This year we are set up for an amazing crop, especially for blueberries. The late winter actually helped blueberries, pushing their bloom well past the date at which heavy frost is a concern. The winter was also mild, resulting in little damage to fruit buds on either raspberries or blueberries.

“Growers need to monitor for insects and, if we get extended periods of rain, diseases could occur. But the potential is there for outstanding crops.

“Black raspberries should be available within two weeks, followed by red raspberries and then blueberries by mid-July. Given the sudden warm-up in May throughout the state, there will be little difference in ripening times this year.”

Photo at top: Marvin Pritts, professor of horticulture, in a raspberry greenhouse. Photo: Lindsay France.

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