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Javier Fernandez-Salvador, Bernadine C. Strik and David R. Bryla

Blackberry (Rubus ssp. Rubus) cultivars, three trailing types (Marion, Black Diamond, and Obsidian) and one semierect type (Triple Crown), were studied for their response to different types of fertilizer from 2011–12, at a certified organic, grower collaborator site located in Jefferson, OR. Plants were fertilized at a target rate of 50 lb/acre nitrogen (N) each spring using three different sources: 1) a liquid fish and molasses blend (4N–0P–1.7K); 2) pelletized soy (Glycine max) meal (8N–0.4P–1.7K); and 3) pelletized, processed poultry litter (4N–1.3P–2.5K). Plants were drip irrigated, and weeds were managed using a polypropylene, permeable landscape fabric (weed mat). Plant responses were greatly affected by cultivar, whereas the effects of fertilizer type were relatively minor. ‘Triple Crown’ produced the greatest yield in both years, whereas ‘Black Diamond’ and ‘Marion’ had the lowest yield in 2011 and 2012, respectively. ‘Triple Crown’ fruit had the highest percent soluble solids and were the least firm in 2011, whereas ‘Marion’ fruit were the least firm in 2012. Harvest date, within year, affected the fruit quality variables measured in all cultivars. Most soil nutrient levels were within the recommended range for all fertilizer treatments, except for boron (B), which declined to deficient levels in the second year. Fertilizer type had no effect on soil nutrient levels other than fertilization with the fish and molasses blend product increased soil potassium and sodium. Soil nutrient levels were affected by cultivar but varied by year for many nutrients. Primocane leaf tissue nutrient concentrations were above or within recommended standards for most nutrients, except for magnesium (Mg), calcium (Ca), and B, which, depending on the cultivar, were below standards. Over the 2-year study, the blackberry cultivars responded similarly to the three types of organic fertilizer. However, the cost of N varied from $8.16/lb for the liquid fish and molasses blend, $5.35/lb for the pelletized soy meal, and $2.54/lb for the pelletized, processed poultry litter. Supplemental fertilization with B, Mg, and Ca would be required with each fertilizer studied to maintain recommended soil fertility levels.

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Javier Fernandez-Salvador, Bernadine C. Strik and David R. Bryla

The impact of organic fertilizer source on the growth, fruit quality, and yield of blackberry (Rubus L. subgenus Rubus Watson) cultivars (Marion and Black Diamond) grown in a machine-harvested, organic production system for the processed market was evaluated from 2011 to 2013. The planting was established in Spring 2010 using approved practices for organic production and was certified in 2012. Plants were irrigated using a dripline under a woven polyethylene groundcover (weed mat) installed for weed management. Two sources of liquid fertilizer were evaluated: 1) a corn steep liquor and fish waste digestion blend (“corn”; 2.5N–1.1P–1.2K); and 2) a fish solubles and molasses blend (“fish”; 4N–0P–1.7K). Fertilizers were applied by fertigation through the drip system at rates of 56 kg·ha−1 nitrogen (N) per year in 2011–12 and 90 kg·ha−1 N in 2013. The impact of fertigation on drip system performance was evaluated with two maintenance options, “flushing” and “no flushing” of the driplines. Total yield differed among years, whereas fruit soluble solids concentration and firmness as well as floricane biomass at pruning showed a year × cultivar interaction. ‘Black Diamond’ had greater total yield and average fruit weight than ‘Marion’, but produced a greater proportion unmarketable fruit. There was no effect of fertilizer source on yield, fruit quality, primocane length, or primocanes/plant in any year with the exception of fruit weight, which was greater with corn than with fish. ‘Marion’ had a greater floricane biomass when fertilized with fish than with corn. Soil nutrients were within the recommended range, except for boron (B), which was below recommended levels. Only soil nitrate-N was affected by fertilizer source, which was greater in ‘Marion’ than in ‘Black Diamond’ when fertilized with fish. Primocane leaf tissue nutrient concentrations were within recommended levels for all nutrients, except for calcium (Ca) and B, which were below recommended standards in both cultivars. Primocane leaf potassium (K) and zinc (Zn) concentrations were greater with fish than with corn. There was no fertilizer source or maintenance effect on emitter flow rate of the drip system in either year. However, flow rates decreased an average of 4.5% in the first year and 19% in the second year. Overall, there were no differences between the fertilizers on plant growth, yield, or fruit quality, and both fertilizers were suitable for planting establishment.

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Javier Fernandez-Salvador, Bernadine C. Strik, Yanyun Zhao and Chad E. Finn

Four blackberry (Rubus L. subgenus Rubus Watson) cultivars (‘Obsidian’, ‘Black Diamond’, ‘Metolius’, ‘Onyx’) and two advanced selections (ORUS 1939-4 and ORUS 2635-1) were evaluated during the establishment years of an organic production system for fresh market. The planting was established in Spring 2010 using approved practices for organic production and was certified organic in 2012, the first fruiting year. Plants were irrigated using a dripline under a woven polyethylene groundcover (weed mat) installed for weed management. Liquid fertilizers injected through the drip system were used at rates of 56 kg·ha−1 total nitrogen (N) in 2011–12 and 90 kg·ha−1 total N in 2013. Genotypes differed in the level of nutrients measured in primocane leaves. Tissue phosphorus (P), potassium (K), sulfur (S), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), and zinc (Zn) concentrations were within the recommended standards, but tissue calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and boron (B) were deficient in some or all genotypes. Although two cultivars and both advanced selections responded well in terms of plant growth and yield to the organic production system used, yields in ‘Onyx’ and ‘Metolius’ were considered low for commercial production. In contrast, the higher yielding ‘Obsidian’ and ORUS-2635-1 appeared to be the best suited for organic fresh market production as a result of larger fruit size, greater fruit firmness, higher sugar-to-acid ratios, lower post-harvest percent moisture loss in ORUS-2635-1, and the longest number of marketable storage days at 5 °C in ‘Obsidian’.