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OSC Activity F.1

Organic management of black currant during early establishment and production for an export market

Activity Researchers

Name Affiliation
Andrew Hammermeister, Lead Researcher
andrew.hammermeister@dal.ca

OACC Manager
Dalhousie University
Faculty of Agriculture
PO Box 550
Truro, NS B2N 5E3

Kris Pruski, Collaborator
kris.pruski@dal.ca

Associate Professor
Dalhousie University
Faculty of Agriculture
PO Box 550
Truro, NS B2N 5E3

Objectives

The objectives of this research are:

  1. To evaluate the impact of timing and rate of application of amendments on bush size harvestability, yield and fruit quality during the early years of establishment and production.
  2. To identify optimum methods of weed control for promoting bush size, harvestability, yield and fruit quality.

Activity Summary

High-quality fresh fruits are among the pinnacle of organic consumption. Unfortunately, the small scale and seasonally constrained production in Canada has limited supply for meeting fresh market demand, international opportunities and commercial scale production for processing.

Prince Edward Island organic producers are diversifying their operations through the addition of black currant (Ribes nigrum) bushes. This crop is targeted to supply the Japanese market with jams, frozen berries for ingredients and sugar infused products. Black currant production is relatively new to current growers. To date most management is done manually, including harvesting.

In 2009, an organic farmer purchased a mechanical harvester to allow expansion of the industry as hand harvesting on large acreages is not feasible. Harvesting equipment is generally capable of harvesting berries that lie six inches above the ground. As the majority of the berries are situated on the lower third of the plant, fruit on shorter bushes would lie below this cutoff resulting in high yield losses. Shortages in nitrogen, especially in the early growth stages of the plant, may result in shorter bushes that are not well suited to mechanical harvest, resulting in high yield losses.

In PEI, few fertility amendments are currently employed in a consistent manner. This research will test organically acceptable fertility amendments and weed control practices on black currant stands in the establishment years (when building vegetative structure is most important) and in early production years. Treatment effects will be measured through characterizing the canopy structure, tissue nutrient concentration, and eventually berry yield.

Results

Background and Supporting Documents