You’ve been granted free access to this subscribers only article.
Horticulturist tells how to have a berry good farm
Blackberries can be a profitable business in Texas provided growers plant suitable varieties and manage the challenges of this crop.
By Kathleen Phillips
COLLEGE STATION -- Be they black or blue, berries can be a profitable business provided growers plant suitable varieties and manage the challenges of these crops, an expert with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service said.
“Berries are a great crop in Texas,” said Monte Nesbitt, AgriLife Extension horticulture program specialist. “They can be grown for fun or for commercial purposes.”
Nesbitt addressed about 100 people at the Texas Fruit and Nut Orchard Conference in Bryan.
Blackberries, a type of bramble or caneberry, do well in Texas because they are improved varieties from wild dewberries that grow along roadsides in more southern areas of the state.
Nesbitt said several varieties have been developed for commercial plantings and are very productive with relatively little care.
“Blackberries come into full production within two years of planting,” he said. “They bloom later in the spring and have a long harvest season that may last into the fall.”
In addition to variety selection, growers should decide on planting location, considering that berries grow best in sandy soils and in U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones 7, 8, or 9, Nesbitt said.
The horticulturist estimated that about 70 percent of the expenses associated with growing blackberries are for harvest labor. The berries must be picked when ripe since they do not continue to ripen after being plucked from the vine, so having available labor throughout the harvest season is essential.
“Blackberry farms provide a lot of opportunities,” he said. “But they are labor intensive, so sometimes it is more profitable to have ‘pick-your-own’ fields for consumers.”
He said blackberry plants can produce for more than 20 years and may yield up to 10,000 pounds per acre when well-managed. A pint basket may sell for $2.50 to $4.95 each.
Blueberry farms also can be profitable, Nesbitt added, yielding 15 pounds per plant or 9,000 pounds an acre.
The biggest challenge for this crop, however, is soil, he said.
“It must have the right soil, an acidic soil with 4.0-5.0 pH,” Nesbitt said. “And that can be a challenge.”
Rabbiteye blueberries, native to the Southeastern United States, grow best in East Texas, he said.
“Most rabbiteye blueberries need cross-pollination for good fruit set, so two varieties that bloom around the same time should be planted,” he added. “The harvest season can extend from late May to August, depending on the number of varieties planted.”
Nesbitt and AgriLife Extension horticulturists Jim Kamas of Fredericksburg and Dr. Larry Stein of Uvalde have produced a series of “how-to” publications aimed at helping potential growers learn how to produce more fruits and nuts in Texas. They can be found at
Kathleen Phillips is the news and media relation manager at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension communications.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Agriculture Today Archives
County committee nomination period begins (June 22, 2016)
Hartmann takes the steer by the horns to win state championship (June 22, 2016)
La Vernia FFA wraps up school year with honors, scholarships (June 22, 2016)
Livestock Market Reports (June 22, 2016)
Root rot knocks out roses (June 22, 2016)
TDA Market Recap (June 22, 2016)
Texas Hay Report (June 22, 2016)
A student’s ag-related journey (June 15, 2016)
Family Land Heritage news (June 15, 2016)
Five dirty truths on agriculture (June 15, 2016)
Horseherb galloping through yards (June 15, 2016)
Kristin Storey: South Texas queen to compete for national title (June 15, 2016)
Livestock Market Reports (June 15, 2016)
Miller announces assistance for farmers devastated by floods (June 15, 2016)
No “rain, rain, go away” as precipitation persists (June 15, 2016)
Schwartz takes lead as Texas state veterinarian (June 15, 2016)
TDA Market Recap (June 15, 2016)
Texas Hay Report (June 15, 2016)
Texas Rural Leadership Program (June 15, 2016)
It’s almost rodeo time in Stockdale (June 8, 2016)
Livestock Market Reports (June 8, 2016)
Save seed pods for next fall (June 8, 2016)
TDA Market Recap (June 8, 2016)
Texas Hay Report (June 8, 2016)
Big Time Texas Hunts entries now on sale (June 1, 2016)
Burbridge leads the way in Buck Taylor roping event (June 1, 2016)
Farm Bureau solicits AgLead, FarmLead participants (June 1, 2016)
June 2016 Gardening Calendar (June 1, 2016)
Livestock Market Reports (June 1, 2016)
Save squash from vine borers (June 1, 2016)
State Farm Bureau testifies on agricultural use valuation (June 1, 2016)
TDA Market Recap (June 1, 2016)
Texas Hay Report (June 1, 2016)