Posts Tagged ‘ greenhouse ’

New greenhouse management intro course from Dutch group GreenQ

The Education division of the GreenQ Horticultural Expertise Group in Holland has released their new course program for 2011-2012, which can be found on their website. Some courses are planned to run after the Horti Fair in Amsterdam in early November 2011, so visitors can make efficient use of their time and travelling expenses.

The course ‘Introduction to Greenhouse Management’ is primarily targeting new investors in horticulture and middle and upper layer management staff, who are new to advanced high-tech greenhouse horticulture. Basic technology, crop cultivation and socio-economic managerial aspects will be highlighted. ‘Keep the Growth in Control’ aims to expand and develop technical cultivation insights, to develop better growing skills and to sharpen control skills. ‘Mastering Energy’ is all about how to use energy consumption optimally in cultivation, and ‘Winter Production of Hydroponic Vegetables’ is targeting on growers and farm managers who want to improve their (lighted) production in the months with lower sunlight amounts. Most courses run from three to five consecutive days.

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National Conference for Hydroponic and Greenhouse Growers

Protected Cropping Australia (PCA) is holding its biennial conference from 3 -6 July 2011 at the splendid Adelaide Convention Centre, the most environmentally responsible convention centre in Australia.

Formerly the Australian Hydroponic & Greenhouse Conference, this is the eleventh such national conference. In part, Adelaide has been chosen because it has the highest concentration of greenhouses in Australia and many growers are upgrading and expanding.

The conference starts on Sunday 3 July with the opening of the trade exhibition, which covers a wide range of industry trades, including greenhouses, irrigation and climate controllers, movable screens, seeds, fertilisers, chemicals, growing media, propagators, IPM specialists, etc. As well as Australian and New Zealand companies exhibiting, there are also quite a few from Holland. The exhibition remains open for delegates through Monday and Tuesday.

At the time of going to press there were a few of the 60 stands still available for sponsors and exhibitors.

Lectures and workshops are held all day Monday and Tuesday, presented by Australian and overseas experts, many of whom are international leaders in their field. Nearly 30 different presentations are on the program, so delegates can choose from a wide range of topics.

A highlight will be Dutch expert Ben van Onna introducing the impressive Simcom4 environmental control training package. Included will be updates of international developments in greenhouse and hydroponic technologies, biological control, IPM, etc. Following upon the great success of grower presentations at the previous conference, there will be many more presentations by growers giving their real world experiences.

Also covered are interesting newer areas such as aquaponics and organic hydroponics. New and intending growers are particularly welcome and consequently, the program includes a series of fundamental topics to give them all the basics.

On Wednesday, delegates have the option of going on an all-day farm tour, including a visit to the 17-hectare state-of-the-art d’VineRipe facility mentioned elsewhere in this issue.

Networking is a valuable aspect of these conferences, and there are many opportunities to meet other delegates. Lunch and tea breaks are long enough to maximise time with exhibitors, growers and experts. There are also great social functions, where the emphasis will be on networking. A welcome reception will be held on Sunday evening. The conference banquet dinner will be a fun night and has been moved to Monday, instead of Tuesday, so those delegates who can only leave the farm for a limited period can still attend.

For further information & registration contact:
Conference organisers:
Rick Donnan and Rosemary Viggers
Ph: (02) 4567-7960
Fax: (02) 8569-1064
Email: pcaconference@westnet.com.au
Website: www.protectedcroppingaustralia.com

Katunga Fresh

When it came to moving their family and hydroponic growing operation to Australia, native Hollanders Peter Van der Goor and his wife Marjan didn’t hesitate. Today the Van der Goors run Katunga Fresh, a succesful tomato growing operation in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley.

Maryborough Magic

The Hydroponic Farmers Federation growers’ meeting in Maryborough Victoria at the home of Alma Hydroponics. Run by farmer Ian Mortlock and his wife Wendy, Alma Hydroponics is an enterprise 10 years in the making and an exemplary hands-on hydroponics operation.

In Conversation: Richard Clough on aluminium screens


Richard Clough, principal of Living Shade, explains the future of aluminium screens to control temperature and humidity in greenhouses.

Murphy Fresh A Glass Act

From enough to “live on” to “a really good expansion”. Small growers can turn a profit alongside corporate growers and larger enterprises. Murphy Fresh, in the Victorian High Country, points the way for other small growers to build a successful commercial greenhouse business.

Svensson: The Fifth Season: Screens that control temperature and humidity.

Svensson, the fifth season. a technology review. The growth and development of plants using aluminium screens.

Seawater Greenhouse growing veggies in the desert

The seawater greenhouse developed by UK-based Seawater Greenhouse is a low-cost solution for year-round crop production in some of the world’s hottest and driest regions. It does this using seawater and sunlight. The technology imitates natural processes, helping to restore the environment while significantly reducing the operating costs of greenhouse horticulture.

The first project was in Tererife, Spain, in 1992 where a prototype was built in England and shipped to Spain. This was a pilot project, which validated the concept and demonstrated the potential for other arid regions.

In 2000 another greenhouse was built in Abu Dhabi to try out the concept in a different climate, where humidity is higher than in Spain. Again, this was a success. The greenhouse provides a cooler climate that enables crops to be grown year-round, even in the extreme heat of the summer months. It also allows for the reclamation of salt-infected land by not relying, at all, on groundwater resources. It is a major benefit to local agriculture.

Seawater Greenhouse is now nearing completion of a new greenhouse to tame the harsh Australian outback. The greenhouse uses a natural distillation process to turn seawater, pumped from the nearby Spencer Gulf by solar powered pumps, to grow tomatoes hydroponically. The 2500m² greenhouse is capable of producing 100% of the energy needed, but also has a back-up power system in case of malfunction. The first crop will be ready to harvest in October.

The company will build two further greenhouses on this site, a 2 ha greenhouse is planned for early next year and a 10 ha greenhouse will be built in 2012. The tomatoes produced will at first be sold on the local market, and as production increases they will be sold nationally. Philipp Saumweber, Seawater Greenhouse Managing Director, said that the purpose of the greenhouses was to supply the domestic market in Australia.

Besides the production of tomatoes, the site will also grow citrus fruit on land alongside the greenhouses, which will be irrigated using desalinated water. Philipp said that the soil beneath the sand is good. Gourmet sea salt will also be produced as a by-product of this system.

For further information contact:
Seawater Greenhouse (Australia) Pty Ltd, Section 680 National Hwy A1,
Winninowie, SA, 5710
Fax: +61 8 8643-6178
Email: info@seawatergreenhouse.com.au
Website: www.seawatergreenhouse.com.au

Issue 113: Meet Biological Services

July/August – 2010
Author: Stephen Goodwin and Marilyn Steiner

Few greenhouse growers in Australia would be aware of the history of Biological Services, nor of James Altmann’s passion for biocontrol and his dedication to integrated pest management in greenhouse crops.

James Altmann and Biological Services have come a long way since the mid 1990s. Over recent years he has worked tirelessly to improve the company’s range of biocontrol agents and to achieve success with them, often under challenging growing conditions. These days, Biological Services has an impressive list of products for all the key pests of greenhouse crops including thrips, whitefly, aphids, two-spotted mite, fungus gnats and shoreflies, and the company deserves recognition as the leading biocontrol producer and IPM practitioner for the greenhouse industry in Australia. Not content with this achievement, James continues his search for new biocontrol agents for greenhouse crops through ongoing research.

The Company
James Altmann is Managing Director of Biological Services, while his wife Simone supervises the business administration. As the saying goes: “Behind every successful man, there is a good woman!” The business is based in the small country town of Loxton, on the bank of the Murray River in South Australia, about 3 hours inland from Adelaide. Biological Services has the distinction of being the first commercial insectary in Australia, set up in 1975 to produce Aphytis melinus for the control of red scale in citrus.

A young James Altmann came under the influence of Dr Noel Richardson, one of the SARDI researchers responsible for the introduction of Aphytis parasites into Australia in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1978 Noel was the entomology lecturer at Roseworthy College in Roseworthy, South Australia, where James developed an interest in agricultural entomology under his tutelage. James graduated from there, later undertaking a graduate diploma in plant protection at Queensland University, where he met Simone, who was also studying for the same qualification. An enduring interest in entomology and in particular biocontrol saw them eventually purchase Biological Services in 1987, servicing the Riverland, Sunraysia and Murrumbidgee Irrigation citrus areas of Southern Australia with an IPM scouting service (Fruit Doctors Pty Ltd) and providing red scale parasites from the insectary. These days the business employs 15 full- and part-time staff, comprising James and Simone, three admin staff, a greenhouse and insectary manager, and the remainder responsible for the rearing of beneficials, production of nursery plants, and harvest and despatch of products.

While we have known James for many years now, we quickly came to appreciate his qualities, still evident today, that make him so good at what he does. Biocontrol production is a business, a science and a passion for James. He has an enquiring mind, a great eye for insect and mite identification and an ability to work out effective rearing methods for his bugs, an absolute necessity if a business such as this is to succeed and prosper. Dan Papacek of Bugs for Bugs at Mundubbera, Queensland, and Lachlan Chilman, Manchil IPM Services in WA, also have the same qualities, but more about them and their IPM businesses in future articles.

Australian greenhouse crop producers can rest easy. James is a cluey bloke with a strong interest in what he does, which is a good recipe for success. He doesn’t just sell beneficial bugs, but knows their strengths and weaknesses and can advise how best to use them in a range of crop IPM programs, under the multiplicity of growing conditions that exist in Australia.

Any grower passing through South Australia should make a point of visiting James. He is always happy to talk about his bugs and your issues, but make sure you ring ahead as he is a busy man and of course to give the red wine time to breathe. He is reputed to have a magnificent wine cellar!

Development of the greenhouse biocontrol business
In 1988, James introduced the spider mite predator Typhlodromus occidentalis into his insectary, mainly for use in stone and pome fruit crops. It has also been used in some greenhouse situations where temperatures are high and humidity is low. James saw the tremendous progress and success that was occurring with practical biocontrol programs in the greenhouse industry overseas and made a decision to put Biological Services into this field in Australia.

In the 1990s he established his first cultures of biocontrol agents specifically for greenhouse pests (Table 1), and received a Churchill Fellowship to study mass rearing techniques for biocontrol agents in the US and Canada. He commenced with the introduction in 1992 of the imported greenhouse whitefly parasitoid Encarsia formosa, with further introductions of new biocontrol agents continuing to this day and most likely into the future, such is his commitment to this industry. We used to say that Australia didn’t have the comprehensive range of biocontrol agents available overseas. While we still have not quite reached this point, through the efforts principally of Biological Services, the list continues to grow and more comprehensive IPM programs for key pests are now available for the major greenhouse and hydroponic crops.

The Australian greenhouse industry is small compared with that in most other developed countries. This makes it difficult for biocontrol producers to develop new biocontrol agents at the rate they are introduced into commercial production overseas, as it is an expensive business to set up and returns are relatively small. It also takes a lot of R&D to develop a new organism and each one needs to be learnt from scratch as intellectual knowledge is closely guarded by overseas companies rearing similar organisms. As Australia is a small market, Biological Services has focused on trying to develop new products rather than duplicating those already produced by other insectaries in this country. Where possible James also engages in research collaborations with universities and government research institutions, but resources in this area are dwindling with public sector funding cuts.

We have been collaborating with James since the mid-1990s. During this time, while we were looking for new, effective biocontrol agents for western flower thrips (WFT), Frankliniella occidentalis, we discovered the ground dwelling predatory mite Stratiolaelaps scimitus (Hypoaspis-M), previously, but incorrectly, referred to as Hypoaspis miles overseas. It is very useful for fungus gnat larval control, and thrips larval and pupal control on the ground. We developed a small-scale rearing method as a starting point to commercial production and passed this on to James. In 1998 he added this beneficial to his business.

We like to think that 1999 was a turning point for greenhouse biocontrol in Australia. In that year we brought five overseas IPM and biocontrol experts to Australia (see our article PH&G Issue 104 January/February 2009, Biocontrol is Good Agricultural Practice, for a picture to remind you of the visiting group). Amongst these were representatives of biocontrol companies from the UK and The Netherlands. Over the course of one week they participated in industry workshops in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne and did much to lift awareness of, and enthusiasm for, IPM and biocontrol in greenhouse crops. James also benefited from this experience. In 2001 he introduced a second soil predatory mite Hypoaspis aculeifer (Hypoaspis-A) through the efforts of Dr Irene Vänninen, a Finnish researcher who spent a sabbatical working in Dr Dave Walter’s lab at Queensland University. She identified that this strain had a higher propensity to feed on thrips than any other soil predatory mite in her studies or previously reported in the literature.

In 2003, we found and recommended a further three beneficials to James: Neoseiulus cucumeris (thrips), Aphidius colemani (aphids), Dalotia coriaria (fungus gnats, shorefly, thrips). All have since been put into commercial culture and use. Currently, James is in the process of adding the native parasitoid Eretmocerus warrae (greenhouse whitefly) as well as Neoseiulus wearnei (two spotted mite) and Aphelinus abdominalis (aphids) to the list of available biocontrol agents. Neoseiulus wearnei is a spider mite predator that can tolerate hot, dry conditions. Assumed to be a native of Australia, it was collected from a sprayed stonefruit orchard in Renmark, SA, after the heat wave in 2009. This predator should work very similarly to Neoseiulus californicus overseas, as it is possible that these species may be one and the same. It will be a good backup for Phytoseiulus persimilis in summer, which is not as effective in hot, dry conditions.

It is worth noting that the Australian Environmental Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act makes it exceedingly difficult to import overseas biocontrol agents into Australia. For this reason all of the biocontrol agents in Table 1 were obtained from naturally occurring populations in Australia.

Biological Services is presently collaborating with Lachlan Chilman of Manchil IPM Services in the development of another native biocontrol agent: the predatory bug, Orius armatus (see our article PH&G Issue 110 January/February 2010, Predatory bugs to enhance biocontrol in Australia). For us, this is an exciting new development because Orius feeds on all life stages of thrips, including adults. Various Orius species are produced throughout the world, and while we have been aware of O. armatus for some time, it is only now that it has become commercially available to growers of various crops and particularly of capsicums in Australia.

Biological Services’s IPM Programs
We thought we might provide IPM programs for two crops as examples of what Biological Services has to offer in 2010.

Tomato
Tomato is the major greenhouse crop in Australia and its IPM program revolves mostly around the control of greenhouse whitefly and releases of Encarsia formosa. Initial pre-infestation releases are made at low rates in a preventative manner until whitefly is detected in the crop. Once whitefly occurs, higher rates are recommended to ensure Encarsia establishes quickly and evenly through the crop. Biological Services has recently added Eretmocerus warrae, a greenhouse whitefly-specific parasitoid, to its product range. This native parasitoid is able to withstand very hot summer temperatures that do not favour Encarsia. It also appears to fly well during dull conditions, which may make it useful in colder months, when low light levels can occur. James has been able to establish it in a range of crops and environments and believes that it will be a useful companion to Encarsia. This parasitoid is widespread in southern Australia. The strain selected by Biological Services, collected at Virginia in South Australia after a severe heat wave in March 2009, was close to greenhouses that were sprayed regularly with harsh pesticides. Currently, Biological Services is offering Eretmocerus to selected growers on a trial basis in 2010, to determine how it performs in crops and the best release strategy (see our article in PH&G Issue 112 May/June 2010, Eretmocerus warrae – new Australian biocontrol agent for greenhouse whitefly nears market).

Capsicum
Capsicum was selected because it has a range of important pests and also because biocontrol agents can be supported by ample nectar and pollen provided in the flowers in times of sparse pest numbers. James reports that IPM programs for capsicums have previously been working well in areas with low WFT pressure. Where WFT pressure is moderate/high, virus transmission is inevitable, requiring pesticide applications that interfere with the biocontrol program. However, the recent collaboration with Manchil IPM Services to develop Orius armatus as a key predator, capable of lowering WFT to sub-economic levels, produced some excellent results in the first year of trial releases in 2009-10. More widespread commercial releases are planned for 2010. Introductions of N. cucumeris for thrips and broadmite establish quickly and easily, as do Aphidius for aphids, Hypoaspis and Dalotia for fungus gnats and thrips ground-dwelling stages, and P. persimilis for two spotted mite.

Where WFT is the major pest Hypoaspis-A is recommended, however, if thrips numbers are low and fungus gnats predominate Hypoaspis-M is used. So now nearly all the major pests have the potential to be controlled biologically. This allows other naturally occurring beneficials into the crop, such as Anystis mites and apple dimpling bug, Campylomma liebknechti, which also feed on thrips. Extra research is required on these organisms to quantify their importance as potential biocontrol agents, and whether they can be reared in insectary conditions for release into crops. The need for spraying in capsicums has now been dramatically reduced, and only compatible pesticides are recommended to redress pest/beneficial imbalances and to minimise impact on beneficials.

Biological Services has recently revitalised its website and comprehensive information on each biocontrol product covering life history and biology, crop use, environmental preferences, application information, monitoring for success, handy tips and pesticide compatibility can be found at www.biologicalservices.com.au.

Challenges for Biological Services
The extreme summer heat at the insectary site at Loxton and greenhouse production sites across the country calls for special packaging and transportation arrangements to ensure biocontrol agents are in top notch condition on arrival at their destination. Biological Services dispatches all products on Mondays and Tuesdays and uses Express Post or couriers to deliver direct to the customer in most instances. Those districts with several greenhouse producers may have a distributor to service them. However, this is generally not the case. Biological Services has many small, relatively isolated clients, spread throughout this vast country from tropical to temperate zones, rather than aggregated in specific growing precincts. This makes delivery challenging, particularly in summer. Biocontrol deliveries by Express Post should be picked up as soon as they arrive and released straight away, not left in the mailbox in the sun.

The insectary site is isolated from commercial growing areas, which in any case are far flung, so James developed a production greenhouse at Loxton for trialing his IPM programs and to conduct early crop trials with new biocontrol agents. It is also used to demonstrate, to commercial growers, pesticide-free crops growing in close proximity to where the pests are reared in massive numbers. This is the best example of IPM in practice a grower could hope to see.

As an aside, it has enabled him to open up a new business opportunity as the local township has taken quite a shine to his fresh vegetables.

The demand for new biocontrol agents continues. A predatory bug for whiteflies, available in most other countries, would be a valuable addition. Unfortunately, a project application we submitted to HAL in 2009, to initiate research into this topic, was unsuccessful, largely because funding for vegetable R&D has been cut back. We will persevere.

Expanding demand for an ever-increasing range of biocontrol products has put pressure on facilities to house the various cultures and packing areas. New biocontrol agents often start out in life as ‘pets’, but there is a limit to the number of these that can be maintained and developed by a small company. Fortunately, the SARDI (South Australian Research & Development Institute) research station at Loxton has allowed Biological Services to utilise some of its research insectary assets that are no longer used, presenting additional greenhouse and controlled temperature space. This is very timely for Biological Services and James is extremely appreciative of SARDI’s support.

Biological Services was a financial supporter of the industry application to introduce the bumblebee Bombus terrestris onto the mainland and in the research program into the native bluebanded bee Amegilla cingulata, both efforts failing to deliver a commercial outcome for this industry. He provided greenhouse facilities for the researcher to test the crop pollination capacity of the latter species and is disappointed at the continuing lack of a pollinator for tomato and other greenhouse crops.

However, Biological Services is still keen to develop a bumblebee production facility if they are ever given the ‘green light’ by the Federal Government. A biological pollinator would be very attractive to many greenhouse producers. Any growers utilising bees would need to modify their pesticide use, meaning their pest control would have to be biologically based. Therefore it would immediately help reduce pesticide use, which is of benefit to the grower, farm workers, and ultimately the consumer and the environment.

As the business grows, one of the bigger challenges facing Biological Services is to develop packaging systems that will make delivery into the crop easier for growers and more efficient and reliable in terms of releasing the biocontrol agent at the targeted site (see our article in PH&G Issue 105, March/April 2009, Putting Bugs in their Place).

James is always available to talk to growers about their pest problems and an IPM program to suit their needs. He can be contacted on Ph 08 8584-6977/0427 846 977; fax 08 8584-5057; or at info@biologicalservices.com.au – further information can be obtained at www.biologicalservices.com.au

About the authors
Since their retirement from NSW DPI, Stephen Goodwin and Marilyn Steiner have established a new business on Mangrove Mountain on the NSW Central Coast. Biocontrol Solutions is a consulting company in the area of IPM in protected crops, particularly in the development and use of biocontrol agents. Marilyn and Stephen between them have over 50 years’ experience in the field. Email: mands@ceinternet.com.au

Issue 105: Greenhouse Berry Fruit in Mexico

March/April 2009
Author: Mike Nichols

Continuity of supply is no problem.

Growing berry fruit in the off-season is highly profitable. MIKE NICHOLS looks at berry fruit production in Mexico and reports that it should be possible to produce blueberries, raspberries and blackberries in greenhouses year-round in Australasia, provided we use low chill varieties and make sure that they are grown in an evergreen manner.

In one small Mexican town, new buildings must conform with the conventional style.

While at the greenhouse meeting in Tucson, USA, I met up, by chance (we sat next to each other on the bus trip to Biosphere II) with a berry fruit grower from near Guadalajara in Mexico. By coincidence I was going to Guadalajara the following week to attend the aquaponics conference and had a spare day, so Armando Villareal offered to show me some berry fruit production in greenhouses. It was a fascinating day. I was particular interested in the out-of-season blueberry production, but the raspberries and blackberries (all for fresh export to the US market) were also very impressive.

Fresh raspberries are exported to the US market.

Berry fruit grower Armando Villareal.

Our first stop was at a property near Chapala, a town close to Lake Chapala. This lake is highly polluted and as it was the end of the rainy season, it was overfull. Apparently, most of Guadalajara’s water supply is sourced from the lake, a good reason for drinking only bottled water!

All the blueberries and raspberries at Chapala were covered in what can best be described as Spanish plastic tunnel houses, and these were in turn covered by bird netting to reduce bird damage to the fruit. The variety of blueberry being grown was the low chill southern high bush ‘Sharpblue’, and it was fascinating to see ripe fruit, flowers and young buds all breaking on the same plant. Continuity of supply is clearly no problem.

Berries are grown in low plastic tunnel houses.

Growers cultivate low chill blueberry varieties.

Ripe fruit, flowers and young buds all breaking on the same plant.

Raspberries were being produced on primo-canes and this was resulting in very high quality fruit. The planting material (essentially roots) was imported as a patented variety from the USA, and the first crop was produced on the tips of the primo canes. These are then cut back to about 1 metre high, and a second crop is then obtained from the growing out of the buds at the axiles of the leaves.
Because the water in the area has a high pH it is continuously dosed with sulphuric acid to give a pH of 4.5 before injecting soluble NPK fertilisers using drip irrigation. It is a necessary operation for the blueberries, but less essential for the raspberries.

Large quantities of waste plastic result from this production system. The plastic waste is collected and eventually finds its way to a recycling plant.

Plastic waste is collected and recycled.

The scenery in this part of Mexico is impressive. We visited one small town where no new building is permitted unless it conforms with the conventional style.

At Mazamitla (at an altitude of about 2000m) I was shown Mr Villareal’s high altitude blackberries and blueberries. These were not so advanced as the planting at Chapala (1500m) which was uncovered to expose them to some winter chill. The technique for producing blueberries at his altitude is to permit some dormancy, while at lower altitude the plants are treated like evergreens. The treatment of the blackberries (both thorny and thornless) was to spray the young canes with urea after fruiting, and when the leaves had fallen to prune the shoots, retaining only the more mature canes. As the buds break they are given a single spray with gibberellic acid (GA) to ensure they elongate sufficiently. As the fruits approach maturity the plastic covers are replaced on the Spanish tunnels.

Blueberries are grown at high altitude.

Young blackberry canes are sprayed with urea after fruiting.

Finally, in Tamizula I saw another lowland (1500m) crop of blueberries and blackberries. These were not covered in plastic, but only with bird netting. The blueberry variety was ‘Biloxi’, another low chill southern high bush type. Although there was some crop present Mr Villareal said that it was not worth picking – he would wait until the later fruit ripened.

So what does this mean in terms of producing out-of-season berry fruit in Australasia? I suspect that it means that it should be possible to produce blueberries in greenhouses year-round, provided we use low chill types (e.g. Biloxi or Sharpblue) and make sure that they are grown in an evergreen manner. Of course, everything is not as simple as it may seem. The berries may not harvest cleanly, where the skin is broken and the berry exudes some juice (known as ‘wet scar’). Some types retain their flowers within the fruit, but the system looks promising and is likely to be much cheaper than air freighting blueberry fruit from the northern hemisphere.

Raspberries are of course another matter. Although they are flown around the world, they ‘carry’ poorly compared to blueberries, and are much better grown locally.

Blackberries are probably a more attractive crop to grow than raspberries, because not only is the fruit larger (and therefore cheaper to harvest), but they also travel much better and their black shiny colour is a major selling point. There is considerable interest in developing a primo-cane type, which would fruit on the young cane, and then later on the mature cane, but that has yet to be developed – currently, we still have to rely on winter dormancy and cropping on old canes.

Perhaps the most important comment is that all of these berry fruit are very high in anti-oxidants and have a major role to play in our future health.

About the author
Dr Mike Nichols is a horticultural research scientist at the College of Sciences, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand, and a regular contributor to PH&G.
Email:
m.nichols@massey.ac.nz

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