Fruit Crops for Mississippi Farmers’ Markets

Yesterday I gave a presentation on “Best Fruit Crops for Mississippi Farmers’ Markets”.  It was part of the “Microfarming – Growing for Farmers’ Markets” workshop put on by Dr. Rick Snyder and others.  You can see more info on the workshop as well as links to other information related to Farmers’ Markets here:

My presentation from the Farmers' Market Workshop

My presentation from the Farmers’ Market Workshop

The full presentation can be accessed here as a PDF file: Fruit Crops for MS Farmers Markets


History and Horticultural Books

One of the great things I love about horticulture is that history is so important.  When I was growing up, going through school I thought about what I wanted to do when I got older.  I never once thought I would be in horticulture.  My main ideas were private detective, archaeologist, park ranger, professional baseball player, novelist, movie director, and historian (not necessarily in that order).  Horticulture allows me the freedom to be many of these things.  As a researcher and Extension specialist, I am part private detective, trying to piece together clues to determine why things happen.  Sometimes I am an archaeologist, looking into the past through records and old samples.  I, too am part park ranger.  Just yesterday I gave a tour of my small vineyard, doling out wisdom and observations on each vine.  Over the years I have written many, many articles, book chapters, peer-reviewed papers that (almost) satisfies that novelist need.  I’ve also filmed (and been filmed) performing different aspects of my job.  And, as I will show below, I am also a historian.  Unfortunately, my dream of playing professional baseball never came true (is it too late at 43?).

I really enjoy the history in horticulture.  To satisfy this I collect books primarily related to pomology, but also have others that pertain to viticulture and general horticulture.  Below are some of in my collection:

The Strawberry by George Darrow

The Strawberry by George Darrow

I was able to pick this FIRST EDITION with dusk jacket up in a used book store in the French Quarter last weekend.  I was dumbfounded to be able to find it in this condition.  The Strawberry was published in 1966.

USDA Yearbook of Agriculture 1937

USDA Yearbook of Agriculture 1937

The USDA Yearbook of Agriculture 1937 is a must have for any breeder.  It is a classic.  I found this one at a used bookstore on Dickson St. in Fayetteville, AR.

Advances in Fruit Breeding

Advances in Fruit Breeding

Advances in Fruit Breeding was edited by Jules Janick and James N. Moore.  It was first published in 1975.  I found this one at the University of Arkansas Student Bookstore — probably the last copy they had.

Methods in Fruit Breeding

Methods in Fruit Breeding

Methods in Fruit Breeding was edited by James N. Moore and Jules Janick.  It was published in 1983.  I found this book in New Orleans in the French Quarter while attending the 2006 American Society for Horticultural Science annual conference in 2006.

The Cherries of New York

The Cherries of New York

The Cherries of New York is part of a series of publications from the NY Agriculture Experiment Station.  These volumes were published in the early 20th Century.  Unfortunately I don’t have them all, but do have a couple more.  I bought this one and The Grapes of New York from a Habitat for Humanity Resale store in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

The Grapes of New York

The Grapes of New York

The Grapes of New York is a classic and it is coming in very handy as I am currently writing a book chapter concerning grapes in the southern U.S.

The Pears of New York

The Pears of New York

This copy of The Pears of New York was given to me by Dr. Gerald Klingaman, former faculty member at the University of Arkansas and current Director of Operations for the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks.

I have others in my collection, but these were handy in my office.  Anyone out there have some prizes in their own collections?

Soft Wax Scale on Blueberry

Today it was brought to my attention that one of the potted blueberry plants here at the station had scale on it.  A couple months ago, I blogged about another type of scale on grapes.  The scale I saw today was different.  Both were soft-bodied scale, but the type on the blueberry is a soft wax scale (Ceroplastes spp.).  It may even be Indian Wax Scale (Ceroplastes ceriferus).  These types of scale infest a lot of different plant species in the eastern U.S.  Since these are here in the summer they are feeding on the blueberry canes and maturing (thus becoming more tolerant of pesticides) so that they can overwinter.

Soft Bodied Scale on small blueberry plant

Soft Bodied Scale on small blueberry plant

If you have these critters on your plants and would like to know what to do about it, this link has some good info on that:

Below is a photo I took a couple years ago of a plant in the field.  The infestation is larger.

Soft Bodied Scale on a blueberry plant in the field

Soft Bodied Scale on a blueberry plant in the field

These insects will overwinter as adults and start their lifecycle again in the following spring.  Left untreated they can cause significant damage or even stress the plant to the point of low productivity or even lead to plant death.

Magnesium Deficiency in the Vineyard

Nutrient deficiencies can adversely affect grapevines, not only the growth of the vine itself, but also the fruit.  Here in Poplarville, the soil pH is low.  To give you an idea, in general this area is good for growing blueberries.  Blueberries thrive in soil pH of 4.2-5.2, which is too low for most grapevines.  Often in other regions I have seen Iron (Fe) deficiency but here, because of the low soil pH, I am seeing Magnesium (Mg) deficiency show up.  The photo below shows what late season leaf symptoms look like.  I don’t remember which vine this came from — some cultivars appear to tolerate the soil pH better than others.

Mg deficiency caused by low soil pH

Mg deficiency caused by low soil pH

So, what to do about it?  Raise the soil pH with lime is the first thing.  If that doesn’t alleviate the problem, then foliar or soil applied sprays may be necessary.  My colleague at Cornell University, Hans Walter-Peterson, gives an excellent primer on Mg deficiency and offers suggestions for correcting it.  You can find that here:  The eXtension grape community of practice has a good article on other potential disorders too — that article can be accessed here:

You may be inclined to think, “It is after harvest, so I shouldn’t worry about it”.  Nutrient deficiencies can lead to poor winter hardiness, overall vine stress, and other issues.  It is best to correct the problem rather than to let it negatively affect the vine.

See the Heat on Grape Bunches with IR Thermography

Recently I purchased a VT02 Visual IR Thermometer for use on grapes and grapevines.  This instrument has been used in various studies, mainly those addressing irrigation scheduling, stomatal conductance, and other water-related issues.  I have used a similar instrument previously in Oklahoma and blogged about it here:

Yesterday, I went to the vineyard and looked at some of the few bunches left on vines that bird had not carried off or destroyed.  I took IR readings on two different cultivars, ‘Lake Emerald’ and ‘Rubaiyat’.  ‘Lake Emerald’ is a white-skinned grape.  It was released by the University of Florida in 1954 and resulted from a cross of ‘Pixiola’ and ‘Golden Muscat’.  This is the first year it has produced fruit (2nd leaf) and the clusters have not fully ripened yet, but is getting close.  You can read more about ‘Lake Emerald’ here:   ‘Rubaiyat’  is a cross of ‘Bailey’ and Seibel 5437.  It has red skin and red flesh.  It was released by Oklahoma State University in the 1970s.   You can read more about ‘Rubaiyat’ here:

Below are the images I took of the clusters during mid-day.  Ambient air temperature was around 35 C.  As you can see, cluster temperature was greater than air temperature.

IR Image of Lake Emerald Cluster

IR Image of Lake Emerald Cluster

IR Image of Rubaiyat Cluster

IR Image of Rubaiyat Cluster

The temperature difference is nominal, just 0.7 C higher for Rubaiyat (the red grape).  Rubaiyat was also ripe, or past ripe.  The “cooler” tones around the bunch are leaves and air (or other objects).  I still need to work with the instrument to optimize its use.  While outside I also looked at leaves that had problems (disease, nutrient deficiency, etc.) vs. normal, healthy leaves.  The problem leaves invariably had slightly higher temperatures.  I attribute this to reduced transpiration from damage to the leaves.  I also tested some blueberry plants.  I saw some differences in canopy temperature among cultivars, but not sure what to attribute it to — could be water stress, leaf age, or some other factor.


Some Notes on Bunch Grapes in South Mississippi

I have a vineyard in Poplarville, MS with several different varieties of bunch grapes.  Some will make it, some won’t, but it is interesting to look nonetheless.  Below are some notes I made today on their growth and development.  These are all in their second leaf and first fruiting year.

Victoria Red — some Pierce’s Disease symptoms (PD), not extremely productive, clusters variable in size and shape, some vines no crop while others better, bird depredation and bees a problem, fruit is crisp and sweet with good flavor (close to neutral), some seeds, vines have good vigor, non-slipskin

Cimarron — very few clusters, small cluster size, slipskin with “Welchy” flavor, some PD symptoms, moderate vine vigor

Sunset — no crop, possible PD symptoms, low vigor

Cynthiana — moderate vigor, no fruit

Rubaiyat — possible PD symptoms, vine vigor varies among vines, some vines no fruit and some lots, slipskin, red flesh, flavor mild to neutral, good sized clusters when present, some vines appear stressed, some uneven ripening, some nutritional deficiency symptoms, bird and bee depredation

Lake Emerald — good fruit set, not ripening yet, evidence of nutritional deficiency, clusters loose, vine vigor good to moderate

Daytona — no fruit, vine vigor low to moderate

Champanel — few clusters, slipskin, mild fruit flavor, cluster size medium to large, “slimy” pulp, some nutritional deficiency symptoms, possible PD symptoms, vine vigor moderate, clusters loose

V12-375(?) — little fruit, vigorous growth, not ripening yet, clean foliage except a couple older leaves with possible PD or nutrient deficiency symptoms

Conquistador — no fruit, vine vigorous, shows nutrient deficiency, some leaves drying out and dying

Himrod — poor growth, no fruit

FAMU 99 — moderate vine vigor, no fruit

MidSouth — low to moderate vine vigor, little fruit, small clusters, intriguing “raspberry” flavor, slipskin

The varieties below have been harvested as of July 24.  Although they were not at optimal soluble solid levels, bird depredation dictated an early harvest so that my study would not be ruined.

Villard blanc — long, loose clusters, brix around 16, some leave damage from Pristine, nonslipskin, obvious “wine”-like grape flavor, vines moderate vigor

Blanc du bois — vines vigorous, large to medium cluster size, brix around 17-18, anthracnose a problem, slipskin

Miss blanc — less vigorous than VB and BdB, less fruit too, brix around 15

If you have questions or comments on these I would love to hear them.

‘Victoria Red’ Grape in South Mississippi

Last year I planted some ‘Victoria Red’ in Poplarville, MS.  They are not part of a study, but rather for observation — what kind of diseases will show up, how much to they produce, and will they survive?  So far, things have worked out okay.  Right now they are rolling on toward harvest.  This is the first year they are being fruited, so I don’t want to jump to too many conclusions yet.  At this point, I see some variability in cluster size.  I also see symptoms of Pierce’s Disease.  Whether or not these symptoms will lead to the demise of the vine is to be determined.  Below are a few photos that I took a couple weeks ago, as the clusters were starting veraison.

Victoria Red cluster starting veraison.  This cluster is more compact than some others.

Victoria Red cluster starting veraison. This cluster is more compact than some others.

Another Victoria Red cluster.  This one is longer and less compact.

Another Victoria Red cluster. This one is longer and less compact.

Symptoms of Pierce's Disease on Victoria Red

Symptoms of Pierce’s Disease on Victoria Red

Next year will really be interesting on these vines.  I only have fewer than a dozen, but they should yield some nice fruit (I hope).  If you are interested you can find more information on Victoria Red at this link:

Getting vines is difficult.  I see that Double A Vineyards advertises them but is out of stock.  Your best bet may be to get some from a nursery in Texas (where the cultivar was tested and released from).  I will continue to update the progress of this promising cultivar.



NABREW: Exo and SWD Info Nuggets

The 2014 North American Blueberry Research and Extension Workers (NABREW) conference was held in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  This conference is held every 4 years and this was the first one I attended.  It was highly informative with great presentations on blueberry viruses, genetics and genomics, insect pests, blueberry culture, blueberry pollinators, blueberry breeding, history, weed management, phenology prediction, fungal pests, and Extension.  I was very interested in the sections on pest management because of the issues we are having with Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) and Exobasidium.  Luckily, some of the national experts on these pests were in attendance.  Below are some nuggets of information I gleaned from the presentations:


-Crop losses have been variable in North Carolina, with 2% reported in 2013 and most occurring during Rabbiteye season

-Georgia reported 15% loss in 2012

-Fly captures within a field are not necessarily indicative of fruit infestation

-Sprays need to be applied frequently, probably in less than 7 day intervals

-Other pests like scale and whiteflies are becoming more of a problem due to the sprays used to control SWD

-Pyganic (organic spray) has not been effective in New Jersey or other states

-Entrust (organic spray) is effective

-Weed barrier fabric has been shown to suppress populations in Florida vs. pine bark mulch

-SWD comes in from wild hosts like blackberry and dewberry

-Trap bait with Yeast + Sugar + Water is effective but needs to be changed every week

-SWD prefers raspberry and strawberry to blueberry

-After a rain event, Mustang Max still had some activity, but Malathion not much

-Delegate and Mustang Max may kill eggs and larvae (especially young larvae) within 2 days of application based on research from Michigan


-Leaf infections worse in lower part of bush and fruit infections worse in interior of bush

-Disease does not appear to be systemic

-Disease prefers areas with high humidity and poor air circulation

-A single lime sulfur spray at 1 week before green tip was very effective in controlling the disease in Georgia

-Early season applications (begin late February) of Captan and Indar worked well too, but more applications needed

-Resistance to Pristine has been seen in Georgia


The NABREW attendees in New Jersey at the P.E. Marucci Center for Blueberry & Cranberry Research & Extension in Chatsworth.

The NABREW attendees in New Jersey at the P.E. Marucci Center for Blueberry & Cranberry Research & Extension in Chatsworth.