UACES Facebook Gillam Farms, Arkansas Blackberry Producer

Gillam Farms

Gillam Farms currently has four acres of Prime-Ark 45 blackberries specifically for the late summer market. However, this planting has a history of low yield due to heat stress and arthropod pest and disease issues.  To mitigate the heat, an infrastructure of shade cloths has been installed over this planting, but costs for installation and maintenance of this infrastructure is likely cost prohibitive.  Furthermore, increased leaf wetness under the shade cloths has resulted in severe fire blight infections. In addition to Gillam Farms, other smaller blackberry producers have expressed an interest in commercial production of primocane-fruiting blackberry cultivars because of the potential for premium prices at this time of year if the system is profitable and economically sustainable. 

Farm Pictures:

 

Blackberries in December 

 

Blackberries in Hand Blackberries in Hand

Blackberries picked in early December, 2017.

 

The Blackberries are in Bloom

Prime Ark 45, Taken April 28, 2017 Prime Ark 45, Taken April 28, 2017 Prime Ark 45, Taken April 28, 2017 Prime Ark 45, Taken April 28, 2017

Gillam Farms Prime Ark 45 blackberries blooming. They expect a bumper crop this year.

 

School trip to Gillam Farms

Amanda Daley Teaching Students Jeremy teaching fourth graders Sherri Teaching Students

 4th graders from White County Central learning about growing blackberries at Gillam Farms of Arkansas.

 

Blackberries in April 

Blackberries on Plant Black and Red Blackberries Blackberries on Stem

 Pictures of blackberries on Gillam Farms in April 2017.

 

Farm Videos

 

Pruning Prime-Ark 45 Blackberries

  •     Transcript
    00:02
    Hi folks, this is Sherri Sanders, county extension agent, White county.
    00:06
    This is my buddy Lewis.
    00:09
    Today we are pruning our blackberries.
    00:11
    Actually, Lewis is pruning them.
    00:13
    Taking our Prime-Ark 45's all the way down to the ground today so that we can force them
    00:21
    into one crop later in the fall.
    00:24
    We hope to show that this will be beneficial to our demo.

 

Collecting Weather Data

 

  •     Transcript
    Sherri Sanders>>
    00:01
    Hi folks, this is Sherri Sanders, White County Extension Service.
    00:05
    And today I am out in Gillam Farms at one of our three demo plots which are SARE funded.
    00:11
    We are dealing with primocane-fruiting blackberries and this is the Prime-Ark 45.
    00:16
    Today I came out so I can download some weather data from this logger that we've left out
    00:22
    here all winter long.
    00:23
    As you can see what our Prime-Ark 45's look like on January the tenth.
    00:29
    About 46 degrees out here, and pretty foggy.

 

Walking Through Blackberries 

 

Pruning Prime-Ark 45 Blackberries

  •     Transcript
    00:02
    Hi folks, this is Sherri Sanders, county extension agent, White county.
    00:06
    This is my buddy Lewis.
    00:09
    Today we are pruning our blackberries.
    00:11
    Actually, Lewis is pruning them.
    00:13
    Taking our Prime-Ark 45's all the way down to the ground today so that we can force them
    00:21
    into one crop later in the fall.
    00:24
    We hope to show that this will be beneficial to our demo.

 

Watchdog Setup

  •     Transcript
    Sherri Sanders>>
    00:00
    Hi folks, this is Sherri Sanders and I'm out
    00:03
    at Gilliam farms working on our SARE demo
    00:06
    plot and these primocane fruiting
    00:07
    blackberries. This morning we are going
    00:10
    to download some weather data from these
    00:14
    loggers, notice they're made by Spectrum
    00:17
    Technologies, Watchdog Loggers is what we
    00:19
    use, they've got all these chords coming
    00:22
    out of the bottom and then they go
    00:24
    - I don't know if you can see this or not, we go
    00:28
    right over here to some leaves and we've
    00:30
    got these monitors, these are the
    00:32
    monitors on the back to kind of measure
    00:34
    that leaf temperature, also measures
    00:37
    relative humidity and things
    00:38
    like that.

 

The Benefits of Surround

  •     Transcript
     Sherri Sanders>>
    00:01
    Sherri Sanders here in our SARE demo at
    00:04
    Judsonia Arkansas at Gilliam Farms
    00:06
    and what you're looking at is our primocane
    00:10
    blackberries that have been
    00:11
    sprayed with surround, which is a kaolin
    00:15
    clay. We do this, it's part of this
    00:19
    demo, to see if surround will give us any
    00:22
    benefit in cooling those blooms during
    00:25
    this hot July weather. July the 25th and
    00:29
    we're out here about 6:30 in the morning
    00:31
    trying to get this done before heat
    00:33
    advisories. There you'll see our spotted
    00:36
    wing Drosophila trap and our Watchdog
    00:38
    loggers that we download for weather
    00:41
    information. So maybe this surround will
    00:44
    help us during these primocane
    00:46
    blackberries fruiting maybe it'll also
    00:49
    suppress some disease and possibly even
    00:52
    some insects like the spotted wing
    00:54
    Drosophila, that's what we're trying to
    00:55
    prove.

 

An Explanation of the WatchDog Logger

  •     Transcript
     Sherri Sanders>>
    00:01
    Okay folks this is what we were doing,
    00:04
    this is our Watchdog made by Spectrum
    00:07
    Technologies. We use their software to go
    00:09
    with it and we hook it into this cord
    00:12
    which goes to my computer, and we
    00:15
    download that information. And then we
    00:17
    relaunch it, kind of reboot it, so it
    00:20
    starts collecting more data for the next
    00:23
    time period.

 

   Welcome to Gillam Farm
 
 

  •     Transcript
     00:00
    >> Sherri Sanders: Hi.
    00:01
    Good afternoon, I'm Sherri Sanders, County Extension Agent, agriculture, here in White
    00:05
    County.
    00:06
    I wanted to show you what today looks like.
    00:08
    It's November the 30th, and we are in our project here in White County for our SARE
    00:16
    grant.
    00:18
    We've got primocane fruiting blackberries here.
    00:20
    I wanted to show you some of this.
    00:21
    This is our watch dog loggers, how we monitor relative humidity and temperature and air
    00:26
    temperature and all in the canopies of our plants.
    00:29
    I wanted to show, step back, so we can show you some of our blackberries.
    00:33
    These are PrimeArk 45 blackberries.
    00:36
    And this is how they look in our project on today, November the 30th.

 

 History of Gillam Farm

  •     Transcript
     00:01
    >> Sherri Sanders: Hi, folks.
    00:01
    This is Sherry Sanders.
    00:02
    I'm a County Extension Agent from White County, Arkansas.
    00:05
    And I'm here with Doug Gillam.
    00:06
    He's coowner of Gillam Farms of Arkansas.
    00:09
    And we're at the location of our SARE grant demonstration on primocane blackberries.
    00:16
    Doug, tell us a little bit about your farm.
    00:18
    >> Doug Gillam: Well, right now we're primarily a blackberry operation.
    00:22
    We grow a few blueberries.
    00:25
    We also do muscadines, but the main thing is blackberries.
    00:30
    We began sort of as a blueberry farm that did grapes and expanded into blackberries,
    00:38
    but it was all under the auspices of a hobby farm that started with my father.
    00:43
    The original acreage that he started on, was in his family, and they grew lots of things
    00:50
    like cucumbers and of course strawberries.
    00:52
    This was back when Bald Knob was the strawberry capital of the world.
    00:57
    But today our big focus is on blackberries, and so we have seen the summer crop that we've
    01:07
    had, but love the potential.

 

Why Gillam Farm is Involved

  •     Transcript
     00:00
    >> Sherri Sanders: Okay, Doug.
    00:01
    You talked about that you're mainly a blackberry operation.
    00:03
    I know you have the traditional blackberries.
    00:05
    But you all have started expanding with these primocane blackberries, tell us about that.
    00:10
    >> Doug Gillam: We have.
    00:11
    We like the idea of being able to expand our growing season, but we have one rule of thumb
    00:18
    on the farm, and that's if the university is going to put the effort into breeding something
    00:24
    and Dr. Clark puts his seal of approval on it and releases it, we have to at least
    00:29
    try it to see what it can do for us here.
    00:34
    The one thing we have seen with the primocane blackberries is they just don't tolerate the
    00:39
    heat here in Arkansas very well.
    00:42
    And so we still believe in what Dr. Clark's doing and in the release.
    00:47
    We just see sort of a we've got to change the way we're going to grow these primocane
    00:52
    blackberries because of that issue.
    00:54
    So we decided trying to think of what can we do that might help with the heat that we
    00:59
    do get during the summer months, so we came up with this idea to try a shade cloth which
    01:09
    really has not worked all that well.
    01:12
    It does help, I guess, a little bit, but we really don't see a lot of positives that would
    01:21
    justify going to the expense of trying to put up a shade cloth structure.

 

UA/Producer Partnership

  •     Transcript
     00:00
    >> Doug Gillam: We really believe in the primocane fruiting blackberry.
    00:04
    Unfortunately, our trial didn't work out with the shade cloth.
    00:10
    And so we have asked our Extension Agent Sherri Sanders to come up with what might be some
    00:16
    alternative ways that we could make the primocane blackberries successful even with the Arkansas
    00:23
    heat.
    00:24
    >> Sherri Sanders: So what we did is we wrote a grant to Southern SARE to ask for some assistance
    00:29
    in helping us.
    00:31
    We've got three locations.
    00:32
    This one in Gillam Farms here in Judsonia, Arkansas.
    00:35
    We have another location down in Bowie County, Texas.
    00:38
    We have another location, a farm up in Fayetteville area, up in the northwest corner of the state
    00:43
    of Arkansas.
    00:44
    And we're using surround which is a kaolin clay to try to put on our plants and to kind
    00:50
    of help destress them in the hot temperatures that we get in July when these plants, and
    00:55
    August, when these plants are putting on fruit, to see if that surround would give us any
    00:59
    protection, Doug, to the leaf and fruit quality.
    01:04
    Also, there may be some benefit to some of these insects that we've been experiencing
    01:09
    here in White County and possibly a repellant or a deterrent of some sort to some of the
    01:15
    disease pressure that we have.

 

Potential Economic Benefit to Producers

  •     Transcript
     00:00
    >> Sherri Sanders: Doug, tell me what kind of economic benefit that you believe this
    00:03
    research will help you with?
    00:05
    >> Doug Gillam: Well, as far as our customers are concerned, it creates some continuity
    00:12
    to where they're not having to try to find imports to try to supplement for the demand,
    00:18
    to be able to meet the demand.
    00:20
    But also with the workers and the expense to get up to the farm and to be here, they're
    00:27
    able to work more months and be able to spread any type of expense or expense that we incur
    00:32
    over a larger production than what we currently experience.