Anticipating Harvest at Clayton to Begin the Week of April 24th (1pm, 3/23/16)
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I spent a few minutes updating my GDD data for start of harvest at Clayton Central Crops (18.7 miles from Kilgore Hall on NCSU campus). It would appear that this location will reach about 500 GDD units on about April 24th. In past years when I have monitored the start of what I considered to be the first “real picking” (as opposed to seeing scattered berries through the field that are red-ripe), I observed the so-called real picking stage to start at around 500 GDD units (standard GDD calculation with base 50 F).
Fig. 1. Assuming that a “real harvest” begins at around 500 GDD units, it would appear that this location (Clayton) may start picking the week of April 24th. We’ll see how good this projection is next month!
I checked the CRONOS system for this location, and their GDD unit calculation (base 50) through yesterday was 263.3 units. Then, I estimated the daily GDD units for the period from 3/23-4/30 using AccuWeather Pro’s daily highs and lows for 27520 zip code. No doubt, the forecast will keep changing from what AccuWeather is predicting today for the period 3/23-4/30, and I will keep updating this harvest forecast on a weekly basis to take into account these changes.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to visit the research station yet this year, but I may learn in coming days when they actually observed their first blooms this year? I know they were covered up this past weekend in anticipation of frost this past Tuesday morning.
I was on a farm in Greensboro area on 3/16, and this next photo is of Chandler on that afternoon (Fig. 2).
Fig. 2. Photo taken in Greensboro, NC, of row covered Chandler planting on 3/16/16. The row covers from early Jan through March 7th clearly advance this crop! On this particular plant you could count over one dozen healthy, open blossoms. The “old rule” of 30 days from open bloom to red ripe berry is a good rule, but what I must quickly add is that this particular plant had some of the most blooms of any Chandler plant I saw in the field — in other words, this was not typical of the whole crop. Our church does fundraising with berries from this farm, and right now I feel pretty comfortable with having our first fundraising date on April 30-May 1.
Enjoy this beautiful weather!
Retired Extension Specialist (Muscadines and Strawberries)