White Spot Disease (WSS) is a common problem affecting many types of berries, including blackberries. WSS is caused by a fungus called Phytophthora infestans. The disease causes white spots on the surface of the fruit when they are ripe, which then fall off during storage. This condition occurs throughout most of the world’s plant species, but it appears to occur less frequently in North America due to our warmer climate and higher altitude than other areas where this disease occurs.

The symptoms of WSS include:

Fruit falling off the tree before ripening. The fruit may still be edible, but it will not taste good.

Ripe fruits turning brownish yellow and eventually dropping from the trees.

Blackened skin around the outside of the fruit, sometimes extending into the center of the fruit.

Sunken appearance of some berries when picked up while others remain hanging on branches.

It is important to note that WSS does not affect all varieties of berries, only those with a high sugar content such as blackberries. It is also possible for the fruit to continue developing normally after the spot develops. However, if the fruit continues to develop abnormally or turns completely black, it must be discarded because it cannot be eaten.

Symptoms of WSS may appear at any time between late summer and early fall. Under normal conditions, this disease does not spread very quickly. However, in areas with prolonged wetness during the summer, such as coastal regions, it can spread more rapidly.

For organic gardeners, WSS can be effectively controlled with copper fungicides or by using products that contain the active ingredient chlorothalonil (Daconil). You can also try a product containing the active ingredient boscalid (Truban). However, copper fungicides are more effective in controlling this disease.

The disease is most serious in areas with excessive moisture during bloom and harvest times. If the problem is a recurring one, try planting your blackberries in a slope so that water drains away from the roots. In addition, avoid cultivating the soil while it is wet.

Fungicides may not be necessary if you follow proper cultural practices for your area. However, if you choose to use a fungicide, keep in mind that the protective equipment and safety precautions recommended on the product label must be strictly adhered to.

Blackberry, like other berries, is very susceptible to a disease called white mold. This disease overwinters in the roots and causes premature ripening of the fruit. Prematurely ripened fruit will fall off the bush because it is no longer firm. You’ll also notice that the prematurely ripened berries are smaller than normal.

Unlike other types of mold that grow on the outside of the plant material, this type of mold grows on the inside. You will find the mold growing underneath the surface of the fruit. It will not be visible to the eye.

Disease prevention and control:

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Mulching: Spread a 2-inch layer of organic mulch such as straw, pine needles, or compost over the rows in late fall. Remove it in the spring.

Irrigation: Water the plants during the first year when there is a long period of hot weather. This helps to establish vigorous roots quickly. Water every 7 to 10 days if there is no rain.

Fertilizing: A 2- to 3-inch layer of compost worked into the soil before planting will encourage root growth and help to prevent moisture loss. Alternatively, a light application of 5-10-5 fertilizer can be worked into the soil at a rate of 1 pound per 4 feet of row.

Weed Control: Keep the planting area free of all weeds.

Pest and Disease Control: Use a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch to keep the ground around the plants cool and moist. This encourages earthworms and other soil organisms, which help to prevent disease by breaking down the fertilizer you use and making it available to the plant roots. In addition, their tunnels help to aerate the soil.

Pruning: Remove old canes that are no longer producing after the harvest has been completed.

Harvesting: After the fall harvest, cut out all of the canes that bore fruit. This will encourage new ones to grow the following year.

Blackberries are usually harvested in one of two ways: by hand or with a machine called a picker-shearer. To harvest by hand, simply pluck the berries from their stems when they are ripe. Be careful when you are doing this not to pull the whole cluster of berries off at the same time because blackberries grow together as a unit and if you aren’t careful they will all come off at once. A better way is to grasp the stem with two hands and pull it out of the cluster very gently, loosening it so that the berries can fall off without coming out of the cluster.

The picker-shearers can be used to harvest all varieties of blackberries just as effectively, although you will get a better price per pound if you sell your fruit to someone who buys blackberries by the flat. If you do use a picker-shearer, be careful when you are running it over the rows of bushes. You don’t want to catch any part of your body under the rollers or cut it on the clippers.

It is important to harvest the blackberries as soon as possible after they ripen and before the birds or animals get to them because once they begin to rot the fruit tends to fall off the stems very easily and this makes them less attractive to potential buyers.

Storing:

Unwashed berries may be stored for up to a week in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator. (This allows moisture to evaporate and prevents mold from developing). Sort through the berries before storing and remove any damaged or spoiled berries. Wash just before using.

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Health benefits: Blackberries are a good source of vitamin C and fiber.

Season: June – September

Blackberry Recipes

Blackberry cobbler

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, plus extra for greasing the dish

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the dish

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 cup blackberries

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

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Melt the butter in a small saucepan and remove from the heat. Whisk in the flour and sugar, then add 1/2 cup milk and whisk until smooth. Return the pan to medium heat and continue to cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes or until the mixture starts to thicken. Add the remaining milk, a little at a time, whisking constantly until you have a smooth, creamy sauce.

Stir in the blackberries and transfer to the prepared pan.

Dust your hands with flour and gently smooth the surface of the batter. Dust a sheet of parchment paper with flour and place on top of the cobbler. Put a second baking pan on top and fill it with something heavy, such as canned goods, to weight it down.

Bake for 30 minutes, then take off the weights and parchment paper and bake for another 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Sitr and serve hot or cold with vanilla ice cream.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Blackberry Fool

1 1/4 pounds ripe blackberries, divided

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put 1 cup of blackberries in a medium saucepan with 1/4 cup of the sugar and the cornstarch. Whisk to combine and cook over medium heat until the berries start to break down and the mixture thickens, about 4 minutes.

Press the berry mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, then discard the solids. You should have about 1 1/4 cups of sauce.

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Whip the heavy cream with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and the vanilla until soft peaks form. Fold the blackberry sauce into the whipped cream and refrigerate until needed.

Just before serving, mound the blackberry fool into glasses or bowls and top with the reserved whole blackberries. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings

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Blueberry

Fall is a great time for picking blueberries, which are packed with disease-fighting antioxidants and are a good source of fiber, vitamin C and manganese. They also contain the antioxidants that may help prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease. Picking your own also lets you avoid high fructose corn syrup, which is sometimes added to commercially grown fruits.

Look for: Blueberries that are firm and free of mold, discoloration or shriveling.

Store this way: Unwashed, blueberries will keep up to eight weeks in a zippered bag in the fridge. If you buy them frozen, just make sure there’s no added sugar (stick with plain, organic blues) and that they’re crunchy and dry to the touch (rather than sticky or wet). To use, just thaw them and add to pancakes or muffins, or in recipes that call for fresh berries (such as the one below).

Make this one: Blueberry Fool

1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca

3 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

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Whipped cream

Cover and cook sugar and tapioca in water until thick and clear. Stir in berries; bring to a boil. Cook and stir for two minutes. Pour into a serving bowl; refrigerate for at least one hour.

Before serving, top with whipped cream.

Yield: 4 servings

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Watermelon is refreshing all by itself, but if you want that traditional flavor of watermelon, mint and lime, then try this recipe! You’ll want to start with a seedless watermelon so there will be no messy clean up.

4 cups (1/2 inch) cubed seedless watermelon

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

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1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

In a large bowl, combine the first three ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. Stir before serving. Top each serving with mint.

Yield: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

4 medium peaches, peeled and sliced (about 2 1/2 cups)

3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed

1 tablespoon lemon juice

4 teaspoons cornstarch

4 teaspoons water

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add peach slices; cook and stir for 3 minutes. Stir in brown sugar and lemon juice. Cook until peaches are tender and the mixture is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl; stir into peaches. Cook and stir until mixture comes to a full boil; boil for one minute or until thickened. Serve warm over pancakes.

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Yield: 2 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

2 tablespoons chopped pecans

1 teaspoon maple or apple pie filling, more if desired

Beat together the first three ingredients with an electric mixer until creamy. Spread in a graham cracker crust and top with a spoonful of pie filling. Refrigerate until serving.

Yield: 1 (9-inch) pie

TURKEY

The average American consumes more than 50 pounds of chicken, nearly 16 pounds of beef and more than 70 pounds of pork every year, but few Americans think of turkey as anything but an oversized Christmas dinner entree. This perception is changing, though, and for good reason. Poultry farmers have taken notice and are working to make sure this economy meat stays affordable. They’ve developed improved growing techniques that allow the birds to reach market weight faster and taste significantly better than their Great Depression-era ancestors.

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In addition to being raised more efficiently, turkeys are also better for the environment than many other meats. According to some studies, raising cattle or hogs produces up to 100 times more greenhouse gases than raising a turkey.

So what are you waiting for?

Try out these recipes and enjoy!

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The next time you have a dinner party or just a get-together with a few friends, try out this delicious appetizer. It’s easy to make and full of great flavor. Just be sure to start out a few hours before you want to serve it, as the bacon needs time to marinate.

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons ranch dressing

12 strips bacon, cut in half

1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and chopped

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

12 green onions, sliced

½ cup sliced black olives

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Combine the cream cheese and ranch dressing in a small bowl. Spread the mixture on 12 pieces of bacon. Place a piece of bacon on each of 6 (12-inch) metal skewers, folding the bacon over if needed so it will stay on the skewer.

Prepare a medium-hot fire in an outdoor grill.

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Arrange the avocado, tomatoes, onions, olives, and cilantro on large platter. Place the remaining 6 pieces of bacon on another platter and set both near the grill.

Grill the bacon skewers for 1 to 2 minutes, turning once, until the bacon is slightly charred but not crisp. Dip the skewers into the cream cheese mixture, turning as needed to coat completely. Repeat with the remaining 6 skewers and serve immediately with the avocado mixture for dipping.

Yield: 6 servings

A popular dish on many pizza menus, this recipe adds some extra flavor by cooking the chicken in a seasoned tomato sauce before adding any toppings. The result is a rich and hearty meal that can easily be multiplied to feed a crowd.

3 pounds chicken tenders

2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed

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1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

salt, to taste

vegetable oil, as needed

3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded (optional)

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Place the chicken in a large bowl, cover with the tomato sauce, and stir to coat. Add the basil, oregano, fennel seeds, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and salt. Stir to combine. Cover the bowl and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.

Remove the chicken from the bowl, allowing the excess sauce to drip off. Place the chicken in prepared baking dish. Add the mozzarella and Parmesan (if desired) and stir to combine.

Bake in the preheated oven until the chicken is fully cooked and the cheese is bubbly, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings

For all you chicken wing lovers out there, this recipe is a must-try. It’s takes a little longer than most of the other recipes here, but the results are definitely worth it. You can make the marinade in bulk and use it again for up to two weeks.

2 pounds chicken wings

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3 tablespoons vegetable oil

½ cup apple cider vinegar

¼ cup water

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon seasoned salt

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Cut the tips off the wings, then cut each wing into two sections. Put the wing sections in a zipper-lock bag and set aside. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until the salt is dissolved. Pour the marinade into the bag with the chicken.

Seal the bag, removing as much air as you can, and turn it over a couple of times to coat the wings. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and up to 24.

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Prepare a grill for smoking (see below). Place the wing sections on the hot grate and close the lid. Cook, turning occasionally, until the skin is crisp and brown and the meat is tender and cooked through, about 1 hour. Serve hot.

Yield: 4 servings

Preparing a Grill for Smoking:

If you want to add smoke flavor to your meal, prepare the grill for smoking. The ideal temperature for this is between 225 and 250 degrees F. You’ll need to add wood chips for the smoke; options include alder, apple, hickory, or mesquite.

To add wood chips, place them in a pile of aluminum foil, then punch holes in the top to let the smoke escape. This can be propped up on the edge of your grill next to where you’ll put your meat. Be careful when you turn the chips over every half hour or so that none of them catch fire.

You can also do this indoors in a wok. Add the chips to the wok, then set the wok on the stove over high heat until you start to see smoke. Turn off the heat, put the food in, then cover the top of the wok with a cookie sheet to trap the smoke.

You can also place wood chunks instead of chips inside a foil packet with the food. These are easier to handle than wood chips.

Grilling Basics:

Always preheat the grill for at least 5 minutes. Every grill is different, so you’ll need to learn how yours heats up and how long it takes to heat up to cooking temperature.

Lightly oil the grate before adding food. You can use a rag or a brush for this if you don’t want to bother with a dedicated oiling container. Just make sure the grilling grate is dry before you start grilling.

Always grill over medium heat. If the flames get too high, move the food to a different spot on the grill.

Don’t press down on your food with a spatula while grilling. This will prevent it from forming a nice crust, and instead you’ll have a big, flat, unnatural shape.

Flip food often. You’ll need to turn pieces of food at least twice to ensure that they cook through and on all sides.

Searing meat is not the same thing as burning it. When you sear a steak, you seal in the juice. This gives the steak a nice crust and also keeps it very juicy when you bite into it. To sear, make sure the grill is very hot and add the food.

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Let it sit untouched for at least a minute, then turn it over and repeat on the other side.

Use the right tool for the job. A long handle will keep you from burning your hands when you take hot items off of the grill. A wire brush will clean the grill without scraping off bits of the grate and getting fused to your food.

Grilling fruits, vegetables, and desserts is not the same thing as smoking. These foods do not need to cook for as long and can be eaten immediately after grilling–but they taste delicious as a side with your campfire meal!

Nuts make a great snack when you’re out camping or just spending time at home. They’re easy to pack and nourishing, and you can remove the shells before you travel if they’re fresh enough. You can also roast them over the fire for a nice flavor boost.

Choose your nut. Peanuts are great for roasting, as are cashews and almonds. You can also do combinations of these or other nuts if you like.

Wash and drain the nuts. You can leave them whole or chop them into smaller pieces–roasting whole nuts takes a bit longer and gives more of a burnt flavor, while chopping them finer shortens the roasting time and leads to a more evenly cooked result.

Preheat your grill until it’s nice and hot, then add the nuts. Keep a close eye on them as they cook, stirring often. Once the nuts start to brown and you can smell their fragrance, remove them from the heat.

Allow the nuts to cool before eating them–hot nuts are more likely to make you sick than hot food.

You don’t need a campfire or grill grates to make great tasting food outdoors. Start with fresh food and experiment to find your own favorite recipes!

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Items you will need For grilling:

Long-handled spatula

Long-handled tongs

Long-handled fork (if cooking on a campfire)

Oil rag (if cooking on a campfire)

For roasting:

Baking sheet

Oven mitts or pot holders

Timer (or a watch with a second hand) Guidelines Always preheat your grill for at least five minutes.

Always oil your cooking tools before and after use.

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Always use pot holders or oven mitts when working over a campfire.

Always turn food at least twice to ensure even cooking.

Use the right type of wood when cooking over a campfire. Mesquite gives the best flavor, but a fruit tree is best for quick heat and easy lighting.

Always have water or a sports drink on hand when grilling–it gets very hot!

When removing food from the grill, use a spatula or tongs, then place it on a plate and cover. Never place food directly on the table.

Warnings It’s easy to get burned when you’re cooking over a campfire. Be careful when using pot holders or oven mitts.

Oven mitts are necessary when working over a campfire because the pot holders will not keep your hands protected for long.

Make sure everyone is wearing shoes before going around the campfire.

Don’t sit too close to the fire because you could catch your clothes on fire.

Be careful when cooking food on a stick–the stick could slip and poke you in the eye, for example.

When cooking on a campfire, always keep a source of water handy in case of emergencies.

Warnings If you aren’t sure about cooking something on the grill, use a tester first to make sure the food is done inside.

Always cut down into the meat a little to check if it’s done. It should be white all the way through when it’s done.

Don’t leave hot dogs and other sausages on the grill. They can explode if you do.

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Campfire

Before You Get Started: Gather your group around a nice, contained campfire. If at all possible, make sure no trees are near the fire.

Everyone Needs to Know: Some easy, kid-friendly versions of several different games. Everyone should know what each game is before you begin.

Everyone Needs to Bring: A blanket or lawn chair to sit on, and socks to keep their feet warm.

The Games: 1. Rubber Band Shoots

How to Play: Give everyone a supply of rubber bands. The goal is to shoot your rubber bands at various targets, such as cans, glasses or tubes. To make it more difficult, you can put various obstacles in the way, such as cardboard boxes, tree stumps or logs. Every time someone misses a target or hits an obstacle, they lose one rubber band.

The last person with rubber bands wins.

2. Water Balloon Toss

How to Play: You will need at least three buckets or containers for this game. Fill one bucket or container with water. Divide the remaining players into two teams. Give each team a bucket of water and a towel.

The first team will toss the water balloon back and forth, pitching it higher each time. On the last pitch, the team must toss the water balloon high enough that the other team can toss a towel onto it without stepping over a line. The second team will try to do the same. The first team to catch the other team stepping over the line or missing the water balloon loses.

3. Hot and Cold

How to Play: This is a game of follow the leader. Pick one person to be IT. IT will sit in a chair while everyone else stands behind the line, out of view of IT. The rest of the players will take turns coming up and touching IT, then returning to the back of the line.

When someone is touched by IT, they become IT, and the former IT takes their place at the front of the line.

4. Hot Potato

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How to Play: This game is played with a ball, like a playground ball, but a tennis ball will do. You need to divide players into even teams. The first person has the ball. When you say go, that person throws or rolls the ball to another person on their team.

If the other team catches the ball, they get to kick a penalty shot and if they make it, they get a point. The person who was just kicked has to sit out until everyone else has had a turn. After everyone has had a turn, that round is over. The game ends after a certain number of rounds.

5. Capture the Flag

How to Play: Divide players into two even teams. Give each team a flag and a base or area to defend. The rules are simple: you have to get the other team’s flag, and defend your own. You can only enter the other team’s area with your own flag, and you can only score if you have both flags.

You can only enter your own area under your own flag. If you are touched by the other team, you must drop all of the flags. You may also lose flags if they are taken and not returned. The game ends when the time runs out or one team has lost all of their flags.

6. Hide and Seek

How to Play: This is a classic favorite. One person is “IT.” The rest of the players go and hide. IT must find all of the other players before they can return to base without being tagged.

If IT tags someone, that person becomes IT and has to search for everyone.

7. Run Sheep Run

How to Play: This game requires a space with three distinct boundaries. Set a boundary at one end of the field (a road or a stream works well). Set a second boundary about halfway across the field (an imaginary line works well here). The third boundary can be at the opposite end of the field, or somewhere hidden off the field.

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Divide players into two teams (red versus blue, for example). Send all but one member from each team to the first boundary. Have them watch as you release the sheep (the rest of the team) into the field. The sheep try to reach the second boundary on the far side of the field. The wolves (the other team) try to catch them before they get there. The sheep may not cross the boundary lines. The wolves may not leave the field. If a wolf catches a sheep, that sheep becomes a wolf (and can leave the field). The game ends when all of the sheep are caught or make it to the far boundary.

8. Water Balloon Toss

How to Play: All you need is water balloons and plenty of people to help fill them. Make sure that there are two teams, one on either side of a boundary line. Fill balloons and have one person from each team try to toss the water balloons over the other side of the field. If a balloon lands on your side, your team can run across the line and try to catch the other teams balloons before they land.

When all of one teams balloons are caught or land on your side of the boundary, that team is out and the last team with at least one balloon left wins.

9. Musical Statues

How to Play: Have everyone stand in a circle. The music is put on and everyone starts moving. When the music stops, everyone has to stop moving, no matter what they are doing. The last person to stop moving is out.

10. Animal,

Vegetable or Mineral?

How to Play: Choose something in nature (an animal, a plant or a mineral) and have someone think of it without telling anyone else. Then, have everyone choose an object (without telling anyone).

The questions go something like this: Is it a mineral?

No.

An animal?

No.

A vegetable?

No.

A person?

(this is the wrong answer, the person has to sit out). The game can also go in a different order, such as mineral, vegetable, animal and person.

11. Blind Man’s Buff

How to Play: One person is “IT” and must put a blindfold on and try to catch everyone else.

12. Catching Butterflies

How to Play: All players spread out and try to run away from “IT.” When IT tags people, they become “IT.” The person who catches the most butterflies wins.

13. Cat and Mouse

How to Play: The game begins with one person designated as “cat” and everyone else as “mouse.”

Sources & references used in this article:

Small fruits: Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries by M Madrid, R Beaudry – Controlled and Modified Atmospheres for Fresh and …, 2020 – Elsevier

Observations of White Drupelets on Three Blackberry Cultivars in South Mississippi by ET Stafne, M Miller-Butler, B Smith – HORTSCIENCE, 2017 – raspberryblackberry.com

Rose Mosaic Virus by RM Virus – uaex.edu

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