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Sustainable Agriculture: Partners

Organic Small Fruit Production

Image of strawberriesA variety of small fruits are well adapted to Georgia, including strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, figs, and muscadine grapes. Here is a list of recommended varieties. As a group these fruits offer six months of continuous harvest from early April through September. Because insect and disease pressures are considerably lower for small fruits versus tree fruits, and small fruits take less space to grow and come into bearing at least 2 to 3 years earlier, these are suitable for small acreage production.

Small fruits well grown are most often superior in quality to the “shipped in, store bought” versions. To demonstrate this point, all of these fruits have been grown on trial for some 6-10 years at the Boggs garden in Western Burke County. Only organic and sustainable methods are used on the small-scale application. Fruit size, quality, and yields have all been high, despite moderate to high pressures from insects, diseases, and weeds. Some examples of average yearly yields include 2 pints of strawberries per plant, 16 pints of blackberries per trellised plant, 110 pounds of figs per bush and 120 pounds of muscadines per vine.

Ever increasing, high retail prices for small fruits is another good reason to consider growing them. Average prices in the store for organic strawberries are at least $2.00 per pint and for organic blueberries $4.00. Also, research on the darker colored small fruits, especially blueberries, blackberries, and dark grapes, is finding that these fruits are extra rich in antioxidants and other nutrients that help fight cancer as well as negative effects of brain aging. And evidence is growing to confirm higher levels of mineral and vitamin nutrition in organically grown food.

 

You can access the Fort Valley State University publication on Organic Small Fruit Production here.