About Local Food

Qualla Berry Farm is part of a loose community of growers and marketers throughout western NC who are seeking to provide locally grown food to people who live and visit  the mountains. We are helping to develop ways to keep our rural land in agricultural production. We are listed in the Local Food Guide produced by the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project. For more about U-Pick farms, tailgate markets, and community supported agriculture growers, see their website: www.buyappalachian.org

<< Back to main

Update from Qualla Berry Farm July 2012

Posted 7/23/2012 9:16pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

Dear Berry Lovers:

Its hot! Our garden looks great although most of you know, we are having an unusual year here at Qualla Berry Farm. The arrival of Spotted Wing Drosophila in our fall raspberry crop was a game changer for us. Fruit growers in affected areas all over North America are figuring out new strategies.  Since we completely lost our fall crop to the fruit flies in 2011 our commitment has been to learn about these new pests from Japan. (See http://ncsmallfruitsipm.blogspot.com/p/spotted-wing-drosophila.html for a very good set of reference information on Drosophila suzukii put together by Dr Hannah Burrack of NC State). We are grateful for all the researchers and folks willing to share information and will continue to experiment in this new environment.

We decided to follow a strategy being used by other growers and grow out our primocanes this year so they come in during hot weather when the fruit flies are dormant. Over the winter we cut our canes to the ground, which eliminated our usual crop of overwintered floricanes but is producing a strong growth of first year growth which is just starting to bloom here in late July (see photos in the gallery on our website, http://www.quallaberryfarm.com/gallery).

We are in new territory with this plan. We know that our canes are in really good shape, having been thoroughly weeded and mulched this spring, and that the irrigation we installed last year will get the berries through any upcoming dry weather. Rains of the past two weeks greened up everything. We will set vinegar traps to check for the presence of the fruit flies and will closely monitor the ripening berries to see if they have SWD larvae inside.

Hopefully it will stay hot while the raspberries ripen and we can get folks in for some picking while the fruit flies sleep! We remain committed to using organic methods and will not spray with malathion or other hazardous chemicals. Even the organically approved sprays like Pyganic and Spinosad are potentially harmful to bees, as well as expensive, so we are going to try using cultural strategy instead of spraying to outwit the little buggers.

Thanks to all of you who have been checking with us and offering support. We will let you know if and when we'll be open for picking, possibly in late August.  Late spring frost killed our mulberry, sour cherry, and blueberry blooms so its been a lean fruit year thus far. Here's hoping for red raspberries!

Yours,

John Clarke and Karen Hurtubise