Berry demand growing faster than supply, expert says
By TIM HEARDEN
DAVIS, Calif. -- Caneberry consumption has been growing in popularity over the past decade -- so much so that the University of California has put out a manual to teach more people how to grow the crops.
Caneberries -- which include raspberries and blackberries -- have seen an increase in production in the Golden State because of a variety of factors, explains manual co-author Mark Bolda, Cooperative Extension farm advisor for Santa Cruz County.
Those include better varieties and improved postharvest and shipping technology, but also what Bolda calls a "paradigm shift" in consumers' eating habits to include more fruits and vegetables.
However, production hasn't kept up with growing demand, he told the Capital Press in an email.
"In a way it was a perfect storm," he said. "For about 10 years, consumer demand was rising and production was rising, but not fast enough to keep up with consumer demand. It was great."
As a result of the growth, UC-Davis' Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources published the 74-page Fresh Market Caneberry Production Manual, which includes detailed how-to information for commercial growers, backyard gardeners and other industry professionals.
The manual includes sections on understanding plants and varieties, managing commercial fields, controlling and monitoring pest activity, irrigation and controlling water quality, according to a UC-Davis news release. It also includes instructions on training and pollinating plants, harvesting and postharvest handling.
Caneberries are aggregate fruits, meaning they are composed of clusters of drupelets that are miniature fleshy fruits derived from a single carpel on the flower, according to the manual. They also include dewberries and boysenberries.
In recent years, California has led in total caneberry production. In a typical year, the state produces more than 90 percent of the fresh-market raspberries grown in the United States, according to the university.
From 2007 to 2009, raspberry acreage in California increased from 3,500 to 5,400, and the total crop value went from a little over $257 million to more than $357.5 million, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.
The manual costs $25, with discounts available for volume purchases. For information or to order the book, visit www.ucanr.edu/caneberry or call 800-994-8849.