Learning Objectives Describe the factors to be considered when selecting suitable cultivars of soft fruits. Describe the factors in choosing a suitable site for growing soft fruit For named varieties of each of raspberry, blackcurrant and strawberry state in each case planting, feeding and pruning requirements; care and cultivation requirements; describe 1 pest and 1 disease for each and their symptoms and controls describe harvesting and storage requirements for each State the advantages of purchasing certified stock. Describe how quality and yield can be determined by the following: planting; base and top dressings; mulching; weed control; irrigation; training systems; appropriate pruning; and pest and disease control.
Choice of site Sheltered – soft fruit is less dependent on bees than top fruit for pollination but windbreaks will still improve fruit set. Sunny- south facing aspect for best ripening Good depth of top soil – 30 – 45cm pH 6.5-7.0 ideally. Lime if below 5.8. Frost protection – avoid frost pockets
Choice of species and cultivars Personal taste – grow what you like. Proposed use – to eat fresh, make jam etc. Space available – redcurrants can be grown as cordons but blackcurrants need space for the bush to develop. If space is limited grow what is expensive or rare in the shops. Certification scheme – DEFRA monitored schemes that guarantee plants are virus free and grown to prescribed standards. Buy certified plants if they are available e.g. Strawberries.
Raspberries – cultivation Plant in Autumn – need good soil preparation, permanent planting. Construct support – three strands galvanised wire 50cm apart between stout posts about 2m tall. Posts 3-5m apart. Plant bare rooted certified canes when dormant (November to March). Shallow rooted so only plant 7-8cm deep. 40cm apart in rows 1.5m apart. Cut canes to 30cm immediately after planting to encourage new canes to develop.
Raspberries - care Pruning – summer fruiting types fruit on previous years canes; autumn fruiting on this years. After fruiting cut out fruited canes. Watering – shallow rooted so need regular watering in dry weather. Feeding – sulphate of potash in January; superphosphate every third year; sulphate of ammonia in late March, then mulch. Net to protect the crop from birds.
Raspberries – pests and diseases Raspberry beetle – the grubs tunnel the fruit and make it inedible. Spray at pink fruit stage and then two weeks later. Birds – net or cage the crop. Grey mould (Botrytis cinerea) – grey fluffy mould on leaves and fruit. No approved chemical control – improve air circulation and remove and destroy infected canes (or individual leaves etc if mild problem) Cane blight - Serious fungal disease that enters through damage to canes. Canes wilt and die. Remove and burn affected canes; control by copper fungicide spray.
Strawberries - varieties Early: ‘Pantagruella’; Mid-season: ‘Grandee’; Late: ‘Cambridge Late Pine’. Using the Early, Mid-season and Late varieties enables strawberries to be picked from June until late July. Perpetual: ‘Aromel’
Strawberries - planting Buy virus certified plants. Prepare the soil by single digging and incorporating well rotted manure and adding balanced fertilizer. Need good drainage. Plant in July or early August 40-50cm apart, rows 75cm apart. Strawberry beds build up pests and diseases so will need to be moved and the plants replaced every 3-4 years.
Strawberries – aftercare. Water well until established and then as the berries are swelling in dry weather. Do not splash the berries or foliage as this will encourage botrytis. Feeding – not likely to be needed unless growth is poor. Balanced fertilizer in early Spring if needed. Strawing down – when berries start to swell put straw beneath the trusses (over a scatter of slug pellets) and between the rows. After harvest, cut off leaves to about 10cm and burn, collect the straw and compost or burn. Cover plants using cloches in January if an early (May) crop is required. Use an early variety for this.
Strawberries – pests and diseases Stem and root nematodes (eelworm) – tunnel the roots and weaken the plants, leading to low yields. No chemical control, rotate the crop. Aphids – spread virus and distort young growth. Fatty acid spray when first seen. Slugs and snails – pick or pellets.
Blackcurrants - Varieties Early: ‘Blackdown’ (Good resistance to American Gooseberry Mildew). Mid- Season: Ben Lomond (Relatively late flowering so some frost resistance) Late: ‘Jet’ (Very late flowering, some mildew resistance)
Blackcurrants - cultivation Slightly acidic soil preferred; can stand partial shade; must have moist soil in summer that is rich in organic matter. Plant 5cm or so deeper than the nursery mark – encourages new shoots from the base. Plant bare root when dormant in Autumn; prune all shoots to 10cm immediately after planting. From year three, remove 1/3 of oldest wood each year
Blackcurrants – pests and diseases Big Bud Mite – swollen buds containing mites that damage and weaken the plant and spread Reversion disease. American Gooseberry Mildew – thick white fungal growth on leaves, stems and fruit. Weakens the plant, fruit destroyed.
Learning outcomes Describe the factors to be considered when selecting suitable cultivars of soft fruits. Describe the factors in choosing a suitable site for growing soft fruit For named varieties of each of raspberry, blackcurrant and strawberry state in each case planting, feeding and pruning requirements; care and cultivation requirements; describe 1 pest and 1 disease for each and their symptoms and controls describe harvesting and storage requirements for each State the advantages of purchasing certified stock. Describe how quality and yield can be determined by the following: planting; base and top dressings; mulching; weed control; irrigation; training systems; appropriate pruning; and pest and disease control.