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US raspberry consumption up 300%

Researchers with Ohio State University are in the midst of a multi-year project studying alternative planting methods to help growers increase the production of blackberries and raspberries

Demand for the two fruits has exploded in recent years thanks to consumers who covet the tiny sweet fruits for their many health benefits, says Gary Gao with OSU Extension. And with the growing consumer demand for more locally grown, healthy foods, farmers who are able to increase their blackberry and raspberry production could see a significant financial gain, he contends.

“Fresh raspberry consumption is up nearly 300 percent in the US and blackberry crops have expanded worldwide,” notes Gao.

In addition to testing more hardy varieties, Gao is using high tunnels to grow blackberries as well as raspberries, which can also help protect the plants from weather, pests and disease, as well as help extend the growing season to produce the fruits weeks earlier than traditional plantings and see those yields much longer, in some cases through December.

“There is a lot of excitement with high tunnels,” he says. “If you grow raspberries in the field with no protection, you’d probably yield 5,000 to 6,000 raspberries per acre. But if you grow raspberries in high tunnels, you can eventually yield 16,000 to 19,000 per acre, which is a tremendous increase.”

High tunnels can also shield the plants and berries from rain; growers don’t have to use as much fungicide sprays for disease control and report higher quality and taller plants.

“This strong demand for fresh blackberries and raspberries presents a golden opportunity for existing fruit growers to expand their production acreage and new growers to get into bramble production as a way to diversify their business,” Gao contends. “The main benefit is we just don’t have enough locally grown raspberries or blackberries. If you talk to any raspberry or blackberry grower, they say they would benefit from a longer season to benefit from the mass of consumers interested in the locally grown fruits.”

Source: Agri-view

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