<![CDATA[Site Title]]> https://www.noursefarms.com/news/ Tue, 21 Sep 2021 15:11:24 GMT Tue, 21 Sep 2021 15:11:24 GMT LemonStand <![CDATA[Nourse Farms Contributes to Horticulture Program]]> https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postnourse-farms-contributes-to-horticulture-program https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postnourse-farms-contributes-to-horticulture-program Mon, 07 Jun 2021 00:00:00 GMT Nourse Farms believes that being a part of the community is essential. Each year, we donate to community nonprofit organizations that align with our mission and values. One such organization is the Horticulture and Aquaculture Program at Garnet Valley Middle School, located in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania. 

Michael (Mike) Krautzel, a 22-year education veteran who started his career teaching health and physical education, is the dynamo behind this program. About six years ago, Mr. Krautzel asked if he could help the school spruce up a courtyard. A gardening enthusiast, he saw great potential in the courtyard and wanted to bring it to life for the students, faculty, and staff. 

Soon enough, Mr. Krautzel was not alone in his efforts. During study hall and lunch, students would get outside, get their hands in the soil, and learn about gardening while they worked on the space. 

In fact, there was so much interest from the students—more than half of the students in the building were helping—that the school decided to put a class on the schedule addressing the topic. Taking into consideration that Mr. Krautzel is not only a gardening guru but also a fish aficionado who enjoys tending to the school’s tanks, the Horticulture and Aquaculture Program for grades 6–8 at Garnet Valley Middle School was born.  Students tending to plants

Nourse Farms whole-heartedly supports the idea of teaching children horticultural practices and the benefits of growing their own food, which is why we have been happily contributing raspberry plants to the middle school’s program for a few years. We applaud Mr. Krautzel for his dedication and vision for the program and consider ourselves lucky to be a part of his efforts. 

Mr. Krautzel’s enthusiasm for the program—and his students—is clear and nothing short of inspiring. Living just a couple of streets away from Garnet Valley Middle School, Mr. Krautzel has seven children in the school system, coaches many school and town athletic teams, and even joins his students for lunch daily. He has a real connection with his hometown and the people in it, which is why he’s so passionate about teaching skills that go far beyond growing plants.  

“Yes, they’re learning about planning, planting, and weeding,” Mr. Krautzel said. “But when we receive recognition for the work we’re doing in this program, it’s the students who accept the awards and give the thank you speeches, not me. They’re learning how to look people in the eye, shake hands, talk publicly, say please and thank you. They’re learning life skills.” 

His program is so successful that he’s bringing it to the high school for the 2021–22 school year. Thirty-five students are already signed up to participate and they’ve chosen their project: a berry garden. Nourse Farms is proud to be providing them with raspberry plants to get them started. 

And Mr. Krautzel’s ambitions don’t stop there. He also hopes to get the program into grades 3-5 in the future.

“This is so much fun,” said Mr. Krautzel. “Some people dread going to work—I run out the door!”

We encourage you to check out Garnet Valley Middle School’s Horticulture and Aquaculture Program Facebook page to find out more about what Mr. Krautzel and his students are up to. 

You can also read this great article published by The Delaware County Daily Times


Posted in: News

<![CDATA[Nourse Farms General Manager Retires]]> https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postgm-annette-retires https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postgm-annette-retires Fri, 07 May 2021 00:00:00 GMT It is with mixed emotions that we announce Nourse Farms longtime General Manager, Annette Tirrell, is retiring Friday, May 7, 2021.

Annette has been an integral part of Nourse Farms for 40 years. There's a saying around the office here at Nourse Farms: "If you need to know something, ask Annette." Annette has helped us build the business from the ground up. During her tenure, she worked tirelessly to ensure that the sales, production, order entry and fulfillment, and administration departments worked collaboratively toward organizational goals. Her impressive contributions included tracking stock inventory, forecasting, order processing, invoicing, managing accounts receivable, managing licenses and royalty payments, ensuring products are prepared properly for customers, and managing personnel. Her work, commitment, and dedication are admirable and will truly be missed. 

She will be missed greatly by all, but we're thrilled for her as she gets to explore all that retirement has to offer. 

Thank you for everything, Annette. You're "berry" special and we're so lucky and honored to have had you as a part of the team for 40 years.

Posted in: News

<![CDATA[Do This, Not That: Nourse Farms Plant Edition]]> https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postdo-this-not-that https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postdo-this-not-that Fri, 16 Apr 2021 00:00:00 GMT Common planting mistakes happen to the best of us. The Nourse Farms team put together the following information to help.


For All Nourse Farms Plants

Do this: When planning where you’ll be planting, consider how much space you’ll need to get necessary equipment to and around your plantings as well as allow for good light penetration and air circulation. 
Not that: Plant your plants so close together that you cannot get necessary equipment through to care for your plants or they shade each other or restrict air movement. This can cause fungal infections.

Do this: Read our Planting and Success Guide for specific ideal plant depth and orientation planting information.
Not that: Plant roots too deep, too shallow, or in the wrong direction. Your plants will fail to flourish, and we don’t want that to happen!

Do this: Cultivate or work soil 2 or more weeks prior to planting and firmly pack soil around plant roots.
Not that: Work just prior to planting and/or leave soil loose around plant roots. Soil will settle, which can leave roots exposed causing plants to fail.

Do this: Give plants their own space away from wild plants or plants with unknown origin.
Not that: Plant near wild plants or near plants with unknown origins. Wild plants often harbor pest or diseases which can readily infect your new plants.

Do this: Water your plants 1–3 times per week.
Not that: Water your plants daily. Our plants do not like having “wet feet.”

Do this: Avoid fertilizer burn by waiting until plants are established before applying conventional fertilizer (roughly 4–6 weeks after planting).*
Not that: Fertilize your plants before they’re established.

Do this: Provide your plants with balanced nutrition. We recommend 10-10-10 or an equivalent “complete” or “balanced” fertilizer formulation for all of our plants with the exception of our blueberry plants, which need ammonium sulfate or acid-loving plant fertilizer.
Not that: Forget your plants need a balanced diet, too! 

Do this: Plant all of the roots that Nourse Farms sends to you.
Not that: Cut the roots of your plant. This will decrease the support for new growth. 

Do this: Plant your plants in areas where they’ll have at least half day of full sun for the healthiest plants and to help ripen your berries.
Not that: Plant in shady locations.

Do this: Plant in soils that have not had crops that included strawberries, brambles, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, or peppers within previous 2-3 years.
Not that: Plant in soils where previous crops have included strawberries, brambles, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, or peppers. These crops can harbor soil pathogens which may harm your new plants.

Do this: Remove dropped and over-ripe fruit to reduce pest and disease pressure. 
Not that: Leave dropped or over-ripe fruit.

*Espoma Bio-Tone Starter fertilizer may be used at time of planting as it is designed not to burn plants if used as directed. 


We have some plant-specific tips for you, too, because every plant is different and requires different care to reach their full potential. 


Strawberry PlantsStrawberries

Do this: Use plastic, fabric, or straw mulch. 
Not that: Mulch using materials like decayed or wet leaves that tend to mat and can smother plants or wood chips that can be too heavy and hold excess moisture. 

Do this: Use day-neutral plantings as an annual plant. If you would like to get a second harvest, you can overwinter, though berry size can decrease. 
Not that: Renovate day-neutral strawberries.

Bramble Plants

Do this: Read our Planting and Success Guide for specific ideal plant depth and orientation planting information.
BlackberriesNot that: Do not plant the roots too deeply or in wrong direction.

Do this: You may mulch lightly with clean straw during the planting year but, beware, new growth must be able to develop easily from the roots! 
Not that: Mulch brambles beyond the first year. Find out more here.

Do this: Prune out the floricanes, which bore fruit during that growing season, once harvest is complete.
Not that: Mow summer-bearing raspberries; they fruit on 2-year-old (over-wintered) canes. 


Do this: Make sure you cut or snap stalks close to the soil surface, not leaving stubs, which could be potential entry points for pests and diseases.  
AsparagusNot that: Damage emerging spears when cutting below the soil surface during harvest.

Do this: Plant in sweet soil. Asparagus requires a soil pH at a 7.2 or higher. 
Not that: Plant in acidic soil. 

Do this: Use compost as an amendment, mixing it thoroughly with soil, as you backfill your trench. 
Not that: Mix compost with the soil before plants grow. 

Do this: Do not soak prior to planting.
Not that: Soak prior to planting

Blueberry Plants

Do this: Plant in acidic soil. Blueberries require a soil pH between 4.5–4.8. A pH of 5.0 or higher is too high! Often, soil must be acidified; amend with elemental sulfur the year prior to planting.
Not that: Plant in unprepared or basic soil. Too high of a soil pH can cause stunting and decrease in productivity, sometimes permanently. Blueberries
BONUS Do this: Do a soil test and apply the proper amount of sulfur. Don’t guess. Excessive sulfur can be toxic! We recommend testing your soil one full year prior to planting. See details here.

Do this: Use elemental sulfur to acidify the soil.
Not that: Apply aluminum sulfate for fertilizing or acidifying. 

Do this: Use ammonium sulfate or acid-loving plant fertilizer to fertilize.
Not that: Apply fertilizer close to your planting date. Blueberries can be adversely affected by potassium chloride. Do not use fertilizer that contains it. We do not recommend aluminum sulfate for fertilizing or acidifying. 

Do this: Use aged wood chips as mulch.
Not that: Use leaves or sawdust as mulch. Either can limit or prevent rains from reaching the soil and plant roots. Also avoid fresh wood chips as they can remove nitrogen from the soil.

Our Planting and Success Guide includes this helpful information, and so much more. Access it online or let us know you want a hardcopy mailed to you. 

Posted in: News

<![CDATA[Removing Straw From Your Strawberry Planting]]> https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postremoving-straw-from-your-strawberry-planting https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postremoving-straw-from-your-strawberry-planting Fri, 02 Apr 2021 00:00:00 GMT Each spring can be very different, and with weather and temperatures being increasingly erratic and unpredictable, there is just no way to give a specific date for removing the straw mulch you put on your strawberries for winter protection.  

The goal is to leave the mulch on the plants as long as possible to lower the risk of crop damage by the return of cold temperatures, while not waiting so long that plants begin to grow under the straw. We recommend checking under your straw once soil temperatures reach 40°F. You also want to consider the weather forecast when removing the straw mulch. It is best to check multiple locations towards the middle of your patch where the straw is thickest. Note: be careful not to leave the straw on too long, as this can harm the plants.

Raking straw

When you see new foliage growth, the plants are responding to warmer temperatures and the straw can be removed, however, it may be left on if freezing temperatures are in the forecast. If the foliage appears yellow-white, this is because the plants are trying to grow in the absence of sunlight and the straw should come off immediately to expose the plants to sun and allow air circulation. Be mindful of your extended forecast and be prepared with frost protection, like a floating row cover.

Early removal of straw mulch can allow earlier fruit development, but early growth will also require more attention to temperature and frost protection because flower buds lose hardiness as they develop. You’ll need to set up protection for your plants when temperatures drop. 

One option for this is to rake the straw between rows or off to the side (depending on the number of plants you have) so that if there is threat of frost, you can easily rake it back over the strawberry plants. You could also employ a row cover, or frost blankets. For larger growers, overhead irrigation can be a good option for frost protection. 

Early ripening varieties flower early. The earliest blossoms develop the largest berries if not damaged by cold temperatures. 

While it is important to remove the straw over the plants, allowing for light penetration and air circulation, it is also important to maintain straw coverage on the row/beneath the plants/surrounding the plants. Leaving a straw layer beneath the plants serves multiple purposes, water retention, weed suppression, keeping roots cooler in the summer. Straw mulch also helps to keep your berries clean by preventing soil contact. It can also prevent fungus and other pathogens from splashing up onto your plants and strawberries when it rains or if you use overhead irrigation. Note: Irrigation at ground level is a healthier option for strawberry plants than overhead irrigation. 

We created this handy little reference chart to help you recognize the difference between frosts and freezes. 

 Remember, Nourse Farms is here for you every step of the way. If you have any questions about straw removal, just give us a call at 413-665-2658 or email us at info@noursefarms.com


Posted in: News, Strawberry Production

<![CDATA[Rhubarb—an easy-to-grow addition to your garden]]> https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postrhubarban-easy-to-grow-addition-to-your-garden https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postrhubarban-easy-to-grow-addition-to-your-garden Wed, 10 Mar 2021 00:00:00 GMT

What is it?

Rhubarb is easy to grow and makes a wonderful addition to strawberry pie and as the base for many jellies, desserts, sauces, and condiments. 

This plant needs cold winter in order to flourish, so the rhubarb crowns we carry at Nourse Farms do well in Zones 4–8.


Important fact

The only edible portion of the rhubarb plant is its stalks. Do not eat the leaves—they are poisonous. Remove at harvest and discard.


Health benefits

Rhubarb is reportedly a good source of vitamin K1, fiber, and antioxidants. 


Grow your own


Recommended Soil pH: 6.0–6.8

Recommended In-Row Spacing: 3’

Recommended Between Row Spacing: 5–6’



Do not fertilize close to planting time or during the first season. Plant in the early spring, in well-prepared, weed-free soil. To increase organic matter, work 2–3” of aged compost into the top 6–8” of soil well in advance of planting. Good drainage is absolutely necessary. If you have heavy or slowly draining soil, you must plant rhubarb in raised beds. Set divisions in the ground so the buds are positioned ½” below the soil surface, pointing up. You will find the buds nestled in a protective layer of dark papery husks. When planting, be sure there are no air pockets beneath the division and press the soil firmly around and over the division to eliminate air pockets. Be careful not to break the buds. 



Fertilizer requirements are best determined by a soil test, but a general recommendation is to add an inch or so of well-aged compost early each spring or 1–1.5 lb. 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet. It would be best to divide that amount of fertilizer into two to three applications during the spring and summer with the first application before new growth starts. Do not fertilize after July 1, late fertilization generates tender new growth which will be more susceptible to winter injury. Check your pH and fertility every two to three years. 



Do not harvest rhubarb the first year. Harvest lightly (a few stalks per plant) the second year. The third year, you may harvest stalks that are 1” and larger in diameter for a period of six to eight weeks. As stems get shorter and thinner, stop harvesting for the season. Leave remaining stalks to make food for the crown and next year’s production. Harvest by holding the stalk near the base and use a pulling and twisting motion to snap the stalk at the base. You may use a sharp knife to cut stalks. Cut as close to the base as possible without damaging the crown. Remove the leaf and the base of the stalk before storing. Remember: Do not eat the leaves as they are poisonous. Only harvest about 1/3–1/2 of the stalks at one time for each plant. Though some harvesting in the fall is acceptable, rhubarb is typically harvested from early May to early June. 



Seed stalks that develop should be snapped off immediately. To maintain stalk size and productivity, divide plants after four to five years. Dig when plants are dormant, in early spring and take care not to damage the buds while cutting or replanting. Divide the roots of the most vigorous plants into pieces about 2” wide, being sure each piece has good bud development. Use these to establish your new bed. Follow the planting instructions above. 


Order your rhubarb crowns from Nourse Farms today. 

Posted in: News

<![CDATA[Greetings from Whately]]> https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postgreetings-from-whately https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postgreetings-from-whately Wed, 03 Mar 2021 00:00:00 GMT

Welcome to our Spring 2021 Newsletter.

We’ve included timely topics to assist you in the coming season. With tremendous berry crop interest this year, we are currently sold out of more items than in previous years. Be sure to check the list on the back cover.


2021 Opportunities

Due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, it is essential to adjust to your customers’ needs. It requires flexibility but provides opportunityfor sales growth. Keep an open mind and listen to your customers!

2021 Expanded Plug Plant Production

Last fall, we announced our increased strawberry plug plant production for the 2021 season. We are focused on top-quality plugs and look forward to your response. Read more inside!

Upcoming Shipping Season

We are preparing to ship your plants. On-time delivery is important, so keep us informed of your planting situation. Together, we will be successful.

Thank you for your continued business and wishing you the best for the 2021 season.

- Tim Nourse

Posted in: Newsletter, Newsletter Greeting

<![CDATA[Organizing Pick-Your-Own]]> https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postorganizing-pick-your-own https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postorganizing-pick-your-own Wed, 03 Mar 2021 00:00:00 GMT

Please note, this not a comprehensive list of everything you'll need to consider, but a rough overview to get you started.


How many weeks do you want to offer pick-your-own? A number of factors can come into play as you make this decision, includingresources, staffing, and public interest. Consider which varieties will help you cover a short or long season’s harvest, depending on what you decide is best for your farm.

What type of fruit do you want to offer? Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries are all popular options for a pick- your-own operation. Select varieties that are adapted for your region with the assistance of our Customer Service Team by calling us at 413-665-2658 or emailing us at info@noursefarms.com.


Select the best well-drained site for your planting, considering your source for irrigation.

Also consider parking locations. Parking close to the field is most efficient to manage. Wagon rides to and from the field add management considerations.


You will need a checkout stand that can accommodate holding your containers and cash register. Make sure that portable toilets, handwashing stations, and trash receptacles are available for customers.


Social media, newspapers, radio, local directories, and mailing lists all offer efficient ways to reach potential customers. Get creative—you can even incorporate coupons into your ads. Local signage is always helpful, too!


Do you want to sell by the pound or by the container? Don’t forget: selling by the pound requires a scale.

When setting your price, remember that you’re providing fresh, quality berries and a great experience. Survey the competition in your area and determine a pricing range.


Make sure that you have the appropriate insurance coverage for a pick-your-own operation. Contact your insurance company for more information.


Posted in: Bramble Production, Newsletter, Strawberry Production

<![CDATA[Variety Spotlight: Meet Mapema®]]> https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postvariety-spotlight-meet-mapema https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postvariety-spotlight-meet-mapema Wed, 03 Mar 2021 00:00:00 GMT

Mapema® is a recent release from Advanced Berry Breeding (ABB) in the Netherlands. It’s the earliest variety from ABB, ripening about the same time as Polka.

Growers have experienced Mapema® to be vigorous. The berries were firm and held good size through the season. Comments were also made about its good flavor.

As we are currently sold out of many raspberry varieties, Mapema® is an excellent substitute when a primocane variety is needed.

Ripening early, it will fruit for a long season into October. Many growers in Zones 5—7 will be able to overwinter the canes to produce a floricane crop in addition.

We are highly recommending this Mapema® variety.

*Minimum order of 200 plants is required.

For detailed information about Mapema®, visit: NourseFarms.com/netherlands-advanced-berry-breeding-varieties
Contact us with any questions you may have at 413-665-2658 or info@noursefarms.com.

Posted in: Bramble Production, Newsletter

<![CDATA[Five Points to Prepare: 2021 Edition]]> https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postfive-points-to-prepare-2021-edition https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postfive-points-to-prepare-2021-edition Wed, 03 Mar 2021 00:00:00 GMT


We are often asked by organic growing customers about rates of organic fertilizer to apply and pesticides usage. As conventional growers, we do not have the experience necessary to properly advise on organic practices. We do, however, refer anyone interested in learning more about organic growing to the following resources:

NOFA-Northeast Organic Farming Association: www.nofa.org

Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service: www.mosesorganic.org

SARE-Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education: www.sare.org/resources/organic-production

USDA-Guide for Organic Crop Producers: www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/GuideForOrganicCropProducers.pdf



Grower experiences indicate that well-timed tipping of primocane blackberry growth at 15 inches and again at 30 inches of height not only significantly increases production but also accelerates ripening for earlier harvest.

While this practice does take a lot of labor, the pay off is a substantial increase in production. The fruit will be at chest height, making it more efficient to harvest. Growers who have previously tipped only once at 15 inches experienced a good increase in yield when they also tipped at 30 inches. Tipping at both heights will produce a high yield and the labor cost of performing the practice will pay off in dividends.

This practice is important for both primocane blackberry varieties Prime-Ark® 45 and Prime-Ark® Freedom.

Grower Tip: Using the same employees each time to do the tipping eliminates training new employees each time and increases processefficiency for those that do the tipping.



The decision when to plant plasticulture strawberries using bare rooted plants is influenced by the grower's location and the length of their growing season. The goal is to have three to four branch crowns by the end of the growing season to produce next year's crop. Producing more branch crowns reduces berry size and harvest efficiency. It will also influence the following year’s crop potential as well as the productive lifespan of the planting.

Many growers plant too early to get the full benefit from their plasticulture production. Here at Nourse Farms, we plant at the end ofJune or the first few days of July. Generally, our Pennsylvania growers plant around mid-July. Growers in more northern locations might consider planting mid- to late June.

Commonly, plug plants are planted about 30 days later than bare roots because the plugs are actively ready to start growing/rooting once they are planted. Bare root plants need to come out of dormancy, establish a root system, begin to grow, and flower before going vegetative, which takes about 30 days. More northern growers need to plant plugs in early to mid-August. Moving south, the planting period should be between mid- to late August and early September.



Using mulches during the first year for the establishment of bramble plants can help manage weeds, reduce or eliminate herbicides, maintain soil moisture for the new plants, and maximize the growth of the new planting. The more growth that results will increase yields on primocane varieties the planting year and the following year on floricane varieties, as well as increasing the cane emergence.

Mulching greatly reduces competition from weeds and reduces the labor costs of hand weeding. Mulches reduce water evaporation, making it easier to manage your applications. Installing your drip lines under the mulch provides good moisture control and spoon feeding of nutrients to the plants in the establishment process.

If plastic mulches are used, they need to be removed after the first growing season to reduce the threat from Phytophthora, because soils remain too wet for extended periods of time. This is less of a problem when using straw as mulch.

Dr. Marvin Pritts recently compared various mulches and found straw mulch dramatically increased the number of canes and their growth over other types of mulch.

We have had some experience using straw and would recommend that the straw be chopped to form a tight layer over the top of the soil and be less affected by wind removing it.

The use of mulch is a positive step to ensure the investment of the planting results in maximum cane development for the coming crop and to reduce the labor of hand weeding.



Choose your site to plant blueberries and prepare it over a growing season. Soil pH is the most impportant consideration. Blueberries want a pH of 4.5 to 4.8 to perform at the highest level. The first step is to take a comprehensive soil test of your chosen site. In our Planting and Success Guide, there is a chart that will tell you the amount of 90% sulfur that needs to be applied per 100 sq. ft. Note the rate changes if your soil is sandy, silty, or clay.

To make the application:

1. Make a broadcast of the whole block.

2. Apply the sulfur in strips by marking out your rows in advance and apply 4-foot bands of sulfur. This practice will reduce the amount you apply to about a third. Incorporate the sulfur as thoroughly as you can for uniform results.

It is advantageous to the grower to start preparing for blueberry planting early. Doing your sulfur application in the spring will result in your pH being adjusted by the following spring to give the plants the best situation to grow well. Use of cover crops during the preparation year will reduce weed issues the following year and will add organic matter to the soil for good soil tilth.

Contact us at 413-665-2658 or via email at info@NourseFarms.com if you have questions about any of these topics.

Posted in: Bramble Production, Newsletter, Strawberry Production

<![CDATA[Strawberry Plug Plants Now Available]]> https://www.noursefarms.com/news/poststrawberry-plug-plants-now-available https://www.noursefarms.com/news/poststrawberry-plug-plants-now-available Wed, 03 Mar 2021 00:00:00 GMT

The Nourse Farms Strawberry Plug Plant System

In the production system we use, the plugs are grown with best practices to produce the most disease-free plugs. Our strawberry mother plants are greenhouse-grown in a substrate system for effective disease management. The tips from these plants are then planted into 50-cell plug plant containers and, with a misting irrigation system in place, grown into finished plug plants.

Why Use Strawberry Plug Plants

An option for plasticulture growers, strawberry plug plants:

  • are planted in the late summer to be fruited the following spring; and

  • can be planted into plastic using a mechanical transplanter rather than by hand.

What Nourse Farms has Available for 2021

For the 2021 planting season, Nourse Farms is offering four varieties to our customers:

  • Galletta, an early-season variety that has excellent flavor, holds size through the season, and has good disease resistance. Galletta also performs well in heavier soils.

  • Darselect, a mid-season, highly productive variety exclusive to Nourse Farms with large and sweet berries.

  • Flavorfest, a highly demanded mid-season variety with first-rate vigor and flavor. Flavorfest also shows tolerance to anthracnose crown and fruit rot.

  • AC Valley Sunset, a top-choice late-season variety exclusive to Nourse Farms and known for large, very good flavored berries.

Strawberry plug plants can be purchased in cases of 250 and will ship mid-August through mid-September. Prices start at $0.46/plant ($115/case) + royalty for certain varieties. Discounts available on orders of over 8,000 plants. Contact us for more details.

Place your order by contacting us at 413-665-2658 or via email at info@NourseFarms.com.

Posted in: Newsletter, Strawberry Production

<![CDATA[Strawberry Tray Plants & Long Cane Bramble Plants]]> https://www.noursefarms.com/news/poststrawberry-tray-plants-and-long-cane-bramble-plants https://www.noursefarms.com/news/poststrawberry-tray-plants-and-long-cane-bramble-plants Wed, 03 Mar 2021 00:00:00 GMT

We are delighted to report that we are expanding our production this coming season.

Both of these new forms of berry plants are grown to be fruited in a soilless (substrate) system. They are planted into 100% COIR or aCOIR/PEAT mix to achieve the best results for rooting and maintaining the root systems for the production cycle. An important component is the computer system that monitors the number of waterings each day and the PPM or Electrical Conductivity (EC) of the fertilizer that is injected into each watering. Computer injection systems have been developed to accomplish these requirements for both large and small productions.

One dependable way to experience the use of strawberry tray plants is to set up a field with tabletops and crop covers over the rows. The grow bags are placed on the table tops and the tray plants are planted into the bags. Then, 55 to 60 days later, fruit production begins.

The tabletops could also be installed in tunnels with day neutral varieties to maximize production. Once this system is set up with the initial investment, you have a permanent area to produce strawberries.

An important note: We have planted the strawberry tray plants into soil and have experienced that it does not work. The plant is not able to access nutrients in the soil as opposed to a hydroponic system.

The opportunity with long canes is the same. Many growers are now planting raspberries in the soil in high tunnels. To get away from growing in soil, the long canes are potted up into a 7-liter pot, from the 1.8-liter pot that we grow them in, to produce the crop of fruit.

We will continue to share our experience and knowledge with you as we learn more.

Posted in: Bramble Production, Newsletter, Strawberry Production

<![CDATA[Rhubarb Update]]> https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postrhubarb-update https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postrhubarb-update Tue, 09 Feb 2021 00:00:00 GMT A staple vegetable in New England gardens and farms from Colonial times, the demand for the crop is as strong as ever. Rhubarb acreage has declined, plantings aren’t being replaced. The fabled tough and resilient plant has difficulty getting established and is susceptible to Phytophthora root rot. We used to plant it on heavier soils that weren’t well drained and it thrived. Heavier soils with high organic matter produced abundant crops for years. Now, it struggles on our best soils. The one part of rhubarb production that hasn’t struggled is its price, $3-$5 per pound is common.



Rhubarb likes cooler, well drained soils with a pH of 6-6.8, and afternoon shaded locations. It prefers summer temperatures below 75 degrees. It needs to be exposed to temperatures below 40 degrees to go dormant. The redder the variety gets, the harder it is to grow. Green Rhubarb yields range from 10-18 tons per acre, red varieties are about half the yield. Consumers will say they prefer the red color, but a blind taste test might reveal no significant difference. In our field trials, the greener the strain, the easier it is to grow. Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid and should not be eaten.

In row plant spacing is generally 3 feet between plants and 5-6 feet between rows. While plants can be grown from seed, a stand with more uniformity is obtained from divided crowns. Commercially available crown size can vary from one shoot to three shoots per crown. Nourse Farms #1 graded divisions are 3 buds, #2 divisions are one bud.

Plan to plant Rhubarb on heavily composted soils. California recommendations are 15 tons of compost prior to planting. Rotate soils for 1-2 years into green manure crops without using any herbicides prior to planting. I’ve been recommending heavy mulch after planting for weed control and lowering soil temperatures. 3-4 inches applied every spring will keep out summer weeds, conserve moisture, and keep the soil temperature down. Drip irrigation is an easy, low-cost way to manage soil moisture. Heavier yields and longer crop cycles can be realized with proper care.

Harvesting too soon after planting is one of the biggest mistakes. Allow rhubarb to establish for 3 years prior to harvest, developing 2 foot diameter crowns. Do not harvest the year after planting to allow for the plant to develop. Two years after planting, harvest lightly depending on the amount of growth in your field. Harvesting too much is the second biggest mistake. I recommend leaving a minimum of 25-30% for healthy regrowth. Other recommendations vary from leaving 2-3 stalks to 30-50%. Another rule of thumb is to end harvest when new stalks emerge thin or spindly. Flower stalks should be removed with a knife as they appear. Young plants can be uprooted if flower stalks or young stalks are pulled.



Rhubarb is not immune to pests and disease. Slugs, Leafhoppers and Rhubarb Curculio need to be controlled early. Leaf spots, Ramularia and Ascochyta are also preventable with early intervention. Tank mixing insecticides with fungicides should begin to be applied in early May through the growing season. The prevalence of Phytophthora Root Rot justifies the preventative control in spring and fall. It will manifest itself in water logged and poorly drained situations and spread down the row.



Plan to replant every 6-8 years after reaching maturity. Plantings that are too old will have dense growth that results in small sized petioles, reducing yield and increasing harvest costs. Regular division every 6-10 years and re-locating the field will add to crop yields. Growers should consider dividing 10-15% every year as an annual maintenance.

An annual schedule should include early spring herbicide application, prior to growing, to kill overwintering perennials and prevent seed germination. In late April, a straw application after plants begin to grow. Applying Gramoxone or other burn down material with a backpack sprayer to selectively kill any emergent weeds should occur every other week through most of the season. This crop will benefit when long residual herbicides aren’t used. Irrigate 2-3 times per week. Two inches per week will sustain the crop, three to four inches will help it flourish before and during harvest. Maintain good soil moisture for your soil type.



In spring apply 200-250 pounds of 20-10-20 three times, adjust N-P-K levels according to your soil test. Application intervals are before growth begins, before harvest, and after harvest. Remember to consider adding micro nutrients and slow release products. The total pounds nitrogen applied should be reduced according to compost quantity. Apply 15-30 tons of compost in early Novem- ber, 3⁄4-1 1⁄2 pounds per sq/ft. Account for any nitrogen in the compost and decrease the spring application accordingly.Varieties have special requirements and their own personalities. MacDonald’s downside of greenish stalks is offset by its vigor. It is easy to grow and is a consistent producer. Cawood Delight is my favorite, it fills the red color requirement. The plant is compact with very thick stems. Flavor isn’t as much of an issue as tender- ness. Harvesting too late in the season will result in tougher and mealy stalks.



Forcing can be accomplished in two ways. Potting divisions in large containers, rhubarb can be forced in a greenhouse. After harvest, the pots would move outside until the following spring. Remember they won’t like hot spots or black ground covers. Regular division would occur after 3-4 years of harvest.

In the field, row covers can be applied to a few rows. As tem- peratures exceed 70 degrees, remove the covers. The goal is to begin harvest 1-2 weeks early. Pay attention to weeds and killing frosts! Remove the covers and weed every two weeks. Cover during frost nights, 2 covers may be necessary some nights.Information used to write this article can be found in The Rhubarb Compendium online at www.rhubarbinfo.com.


Purchase rhubarb from Nourse Farms.

Posted in: Newsletter, Nourse Favorites!

<![CDATA[Trellising & Pruning Brambles - the Basics]]> https://www.noursefarms.com/news/posttrellising_blog_faq https://www.noursefarms.com/news/posttrellising_blog_faq Mon, 08 Feb 2021 00:00:00 GMT Trellising, training and pruning brambles are important for long term quality berries and crop productivity. Correct trellising and pruning timing and technique allow for manipulation of cane numbers and growth. This will yield improved fruit quality and size, lower disease susceptibility, ease of harvest and better spraying efficiency.

These are the basics. For more advanced trellising and pruning techniques, call us for recommendations.



We recommend all brambles be supported by a trellis. A trellis keeps canes upright and fruit off the ground, makes picking far easier, reduces wind damage and maintains good aeration throughout the planting which helps with disease and Spotted Wing Drosophila control. We have been successful using a T-trellis which supports 2 wires 12” apart at 3.5’ to 5’ above the ground (see diagram). Trellises may be temporary to facilitate 

mowing in the spring. We suggest installing 6’-8’ long metal fence posts 1 1/2’ - 2’ into the soil. Bolt on a 12-18” piece of angle iron to create the horizontal crossbars. Drill hole on each end the angle iron to secure twine. You may also use wood posts and cross bars. The T is made by thru-bolting 12” – 18” two-by fours. Posts should be spaced 15’ – 25’ apart along the row. Rows longer than 100’ should have pressuretreated 4” x 4” end posts. Monofi lament trellis wire should be considered instead of twine.


Primocane-Bearing (Fall-Bearing/Everbearing) Red & Yellow Raspberries

Varieties: Polana, Joan J, Polka, Himbo-Top, BP-1, Caroline, Heritage, Double Gold, Anne


Installation is usually done sometime in July after raspberries produce their first flowers. Poly twine works well and comes in many sizes, we recommend #450 1-ply. We remove twine and posts after plants have seen 2 freezes.


The main crop is borne in the late summer and all on the tips of canes that emerge in the spring and grow throughout the summer. Most fall-bearers will produce the best crop if canes are cut down each year and only allowed to fruit in the fall. For fall production only, prune or mow all the canes to the ground in late winter/early spring, this is especially beneficial in colder areas. Besure to cut the canes as closely as possible to the soil surface, leaving little  or no stub above the ground. Timing is also very important. Carbohydrates move from plant leaves into the crown in autumn, and from the crown to the buds in early spring. If canes are cut before all the carbohydrates reach the crown in autumn, the new canes may not be as vigorous the following year. Canes can also be cut too late, after carbohydrates have move to the buds. From December – February, most carbohydrates are in the crown, so this is the ideal time to cut canes.

In order to develop two crops, the planting must be pruned as summer bearing varieties. When allowed to stand through the winter, a second crop is produced early the following summer, lower on those over- wintered canes. After harvesting the summer crop, cut the over-wintered canes to the ground, leaving the new primocanes to produce the fall crop.


Floricane-Bearing (Summer-Bearing) Red Raspberries

Varieties: Prelude, Boyne, Killarney, Nova, Latham, AAC Eden, Encore


Some taller-growing varieties, such as Nova and Prelude, might benefit from a T-trellis with two horizontal crossbars – one at 3’ – 3.5’ and one at 4.5’ – 5’. Removing leaves from lower 18”– 24” will allow better air circulation, while increasing light penetration for new primocane growth.


These varieties carry one crop of berries during the summer on over-wintered canes. For best yields, immediately after harvest, cut the canes that carried fruit as close to the ground as possible. Thin remaining new growth to 6 – 8 strong, healthy canes per funning foot of row. In late fall, cut canes down to 4.5’ – 5’ to manage the picking height.


Floricane-Bearing (Summer-Bearing) Black & Purple Raspberries

Varieties: Bristol, Jewel, Mac Black, Royalty


Black and Purple raspberries are best trained to a 2 or 3 wire trellis with the support of a 4”x4” every 25 feet (see diagram). Attach the main canes to the wire with a clip or a slightly loose zip or twist tie.


Black and Purple raspberries break buds from their crown or base and send out few, if any, suckers. Prune plants to 4 – 6 canes per hill. These plants respond well to tipping, where the first year canes, primocanes, are pinched back (remove about 2”) as they reach a height of 5’ – 6’ through July and August. This practice encourages fruiting lateral branches to break from the main cane and also keeps plant height in check. Laterals should be pruned to 6” – 8” in the late fall. Pinching back laterals can help increase berry size and increase winter hardiness.


Floricane-Bearing (Summer-Bearing) Blackberries

Varieties: Natchez, Caddo, Ouachita, Triple Crown, Chester


A trellis or staking is highly recommended for semi-erect or trailing blackberries in order to keep fruit clean, maximize air circulation, and minimize cane breakage. Blackberries like black raspberries are best trained to a 2 or 3 wire trellis with the support of a 4”x4” every 25 feet (refer people to diagram under black raspberries). Attach the main canes to the wire with a clip or a slightly loose zip or twist tie. Sometimes thornless blackberries are managed in a “staked-hill” system. Set 5’ – 6’ tall 2” diameter stakes approximately 1’ deep and 5’ – 8’ apart in all directions. Set a plant 1’ away from each stake. Secure the primocanes loosely in 2-3 places along the height of the stake. This is an easy to maintain system and can be an attractive addition to the home garden landscape.


Tip 1st-year canes when they reach a 5’ – 6’ height in midsummer or 6” over the top wire. Tipping stops terminal growth and establishes fruiting laterals. Thin the remaining canes (primocanes) to 6 – 8 canes per running yard of row or per hill. Laterals should be cut back to 6” – 8” in late fall. Fruiting canes should be cut to the ground as soon as possible after harvest has completed. Primocanes overwinter and develop fruit the following season.

Considerations: Rotating Cross Arm Trellis

Here at Nourse Farms, we have great success growing Floricane-bearing blackberries on the Rotating Cross Arm (RCA) Trellis, made by Trellis Growing Systems. This trellis, and the pruning and training technique that goes along with it, gives growers the ability to lay their canes down and be covered to increase winter hardiness. This system can also reduce sunscald by forcing blossoms onto one side of the trellis, where the fruit can be protected by the foliage.

The training method for the RCA trellis involves training your primocanes to a low horizontal wire, 18” high, and tipping when canes reach 5’ or the next plant. Laterals are then trained vertically, much in the way that primocanes are traditionally trained. In the fall the posts are rotated down to lay on the ground and are then covered with a heavy floating row cover. In spring, the row cover is removed and the posts are rotated up.

To prevent sunscald, just prior to bloom the posts are rotated so they are parallel with the ground. This causes the blossoms to emerge on the upper side of the trellis. Once bloom has begun, the trellis can be returned to
its standard position, leaving all of the blossoms on the shade side of the trellis and thus protecting them from 
direct sun exposure and reducing sunscald. This technique also increases picking efficacy as rows can be effectively picked from one side.


Primocane-Bearing (Fall-Bearing/Everbearing) Blackberries

Varieties: Prime Ark 45, Prime Ark Freedom


See Trellising under Floricane-Bearing (Summer-Bearing) Blackberries.


Primocane blackberries respond very favorably to tipping. As the primocanes reach 12 – 15” in height, break or cut 3⁄4” – 1” off the tip to force the cane into branching (laterals).

A second tipping should be performed as the lateral branches reach 30”, again breaking or cutting 3⁄4” – 1” off tips. This process stimulates earlier fruit development, increases yield and also keeps plant height in check for easier management and harvest.

The main crop is borne in the late summer and all on the tips of canes that emerge in the spring and grow throughout the summer. Most fall-bearers will produce the best crop if canes are cut down each year and only allowed to fruit in the fall. For fall production only, prune or mow all the canes to the ground in late winter/early spring, this is especially beneficial in colder areas. Be sure to cut the canes as closely as possible to the soil surface, leaving little or no stub above the ground. Timing is also very important. Carbohydrates move from plant leaves into the crown in autumn, and from the crown to the buds in early spring. If canes are cut before all the carbohydrates reach the crown in autumn, the new canes may not be vigorous the following year. Canes can be cut too late, after carbohydrates have moved into the bud.


When growing Primocane-bearing blackberries, southern growers may benefit from a single tipping at 3’, leaving the laterals untipped. This will delay harvest compared to untipped canes but advance it compared to double tipped canes while also prolonging the harvest.


Primocane-Bearing (Fall-Bearing/Everbearing) Black Raspberries

Varieties: Niwot


See Trellising under Floricane-Bearing (Summer-Bearing) Black Raspberries


Tipping or tip pruning is highly recommended for primocane-bearing black raspberries. As the new primocanes reach 3’, pinch or cut the tips to force branches (laterals) to develop. Tipping will delay, but prolong the harvest, increase yield and reduce the arching of the canes and tip rooting. Pruning later in the season decreases the amount of time the plant will have to develop branches. Leaving the primocanes unpruned will allow earlier ripening than the tip-pruning option; but the canes will become tall and arching and will develop fewer berries.

Posted in: Bramble Production, News, Newsletter, Nourse Favorites!

<![CDATA[Get to know horseradish]]> https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postget-to-know-horseradish https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postget-to-know-horseradish Tue, 26 Jan 2021 00:00:00 GMT  

What is it?

Horseradish is a root vegetable, which means humans consume the part of the plant that grows underground. A close relative of wasabi, mustard, cabbage, and broccoli, horseradish has a reputation for “packing a punch.” When describing the taste of horseradish, people will often use words like pungent, sharp, spicy, strong, biting, and hot.

On the surface and in your garden or field, you’ll see tall narrow leaves potentially reaching above two feet in height. Under the ground, there will be cylinder-shaped roots with an off-white to tan skin and white to light tan inside.


Health benefits

Horseradish is packed with nutrients associated with boosting immunity: Vitamin C, Zinc, Folates, Magnesium, Potassium, and Calcium. Studies have shown that horseradish has antibacterial properties. And, as anyone who has consumed it can attest to, a good whiff of horseradish is known to help improve congestion symptoms from colds and allergies.


Grow your own

Here at Nourse Farms, we love having horseradish in our catalog. A vigorous grower, horseradish can flourish in almost any garden setting and nearly any well-draining soil. Once horseradish is established, even if it gets a bit neglected, it will likely continue to grow well. So much so that they can take over, so be careful not to plant too close to your favorite flowers!



  • Recommended Soil pH: 6.2–6.7
  • Recommended In-Row Spacing: 10”–12”
  • Recommended Between Row Spacing: 3’
  • Recommended Zones: 3–8



Give this hardy perennial plenty of space in your garden bed, as it spreads readily. Plant horseradish in a well-prepared, well-draining, and weed-free bed. Loam or sandy loam soil is the best for development of large, deep roots. If you have rocky soil, you may want to check the soil in the desired planting area and remove large rocks prior to planting. Heavier soil may impede root development, impacting the harvest.

A little well-aged compost is always a good addition whether your soil is sandy, loamy, or clayish. Since you want to encourage a larger and deeply growing taproot in horseradish, mix compost several inches into the soil. If your soil is more dense or clayish, you should build a raised bed, so you have better drainage and greater control over soil moisture. Excess moisture in the soil can cause lots of problems. (See Irrigation below and our blog post about soil and amendments.)

One end of the root is cut flat to indicate it is the top, and the other end is cut on an angle to indicate it is the bottom or distal end. Each year, when you harvest, use this method to cut small lateral roots so you can tell clearly top from bottom for replanting.

Set the root segment at a 45-degree angle in the soil with the flat (larger) end up and the slanted end down, parallel with the soil surface. The flat end should be 1”–2” below the soil surface. Five to 10 plants are usually sufficient for a home garden. Note: The size and diameter of the horseradish root does not determine the ultimate size of the plant.

Horseradish may be grown in large containers that allow large roots to develop. Make sure the container has excellent drainage! Use a potting mix that has been supplemented with compost rather than topsoil or plain compost. Pay close attention to soil moisture so that plants aren’t ever staying too wet or too dry.

It’s good practice to remove lower leaves that turn brown during the season.



Keep soil moist throughout the establishment period. Irrigate through the growing season but take care not to overwater. Many factors, not limited to weather conditions and soil type, determine how often plants should be irrigated. Too much moisture in the soil can make your horseradish soft, increase the risk of root rot, and fungus development in the soil. Horseradish can survive drier periods, but the roots can become woody, and flavor can be much less desirable with increasing stress and drought.



Horseradish does not need a lot of fertilization. You will want to fertilize in spring with five pounds of 10-10-10 per 100 square feet.


Weed Control and Mulching

We recommend regular, manual weeding of your horseradish plants. Consult a local extension before using chemical products. Hoeing around horseradish plants is helpful early in the season or while plants are small, but as they grow taller and wider, it will be more difficult for many weeds to grow nearby. You could use straw or even a layer of compost for mulching.



It is best if you don’t harvest your horseradish in the first year to allow the plans to get well established. In subsequent years, you may harvest horseradish roots anytime from midsummer on, but for the best flavor, wait until after a few to several frosts have occurred and the leaves have died back. This improves flavor!

Dig 10”–12” around and under the plant using a fork or loosen the soil very well around the whole root system so that you leave fewer pieces of root behind. This is particularly important as any root left in the soil will try to regrow and can become a weed. (Note: it is very likely that pieces may be left behind.) Lift the root system out of the ground and take off the side shoots. Pay attention to the top-most, wider part and the bottom, for replanting. It may help to cut the top flat or straight and the bottom on an angle for clarity at planting time.

Dig or loosen the soil around the roots and pull them out of the soil. Take the large, main root and as much of the secondary root system as possible. Wash and dry the roots. Use the largest pieces for your recipe. Smaller, side roots that are ¾” in diameter and about 8” or longer can be replanted in a new bed. They will provide your next year’s crop. If not harvested, the roots will need to be divided every year or two. When replanting smaller pieces of harvested root, be sure to replant into a new bed to reduce pest and disease pressure.



There are some pests (such as flea beetles, false cinch bugs, caterpillars) that can cause damage to foliage, but a little mild damage to the foliage is not typically of great concern because focus is on root development. Insects, and root rot that cause damage below ground are certainly of greater concern. Crop rotation can help with some of these issues as well as planting in well-drained soil or employing raised beds.



Over a relatively short period, once horseradish has been processed, it will lose flavor and the color will change. You can process a little at a time and keep a few pieces in the refrigerator for up to three months for later processing. Store in plastic bags with small slits for a little ventilation.



(Adapted from a University of Illinois Extension Bulletin)

Wash the roots, cut off soft or problem spots, peel, and dice horseradish roots. Place them in a grinder or blender with a small amount of water and a couple of ice cubes. Cover tightly and grind until desired consistency is reached. Vinegar or lemon juice stops the enzyme process that gives horseradish its bite. Add immediately for a mild sauce; wait up to three minutes for a hot sauce. Add 2–3 tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice and ½ teaspoon of salt per cup of horseradish sauce. Store in a covered glass jar in the refrigerator or the freezer.

You can also add grated horseradish root to yogurt, mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese, salad dressings, BBQ sauce, mustard, etc., to make dips, spreads, and marinades. 

Note: Peeling, cutting and other means of processing the roots can be very irritating to your eyes and nose, and for some, can cause breathing difficulty. Process your roots in a well-ventilated area. If using a food processor or blender, take care when opening the lid. To keep it from spoiling quickly, and to preserve flavor and color after grinding, store in the refrigerator for no more than a few weeks.

Get your horseradish roots from Nourse Farms today. 

Posted in: News

<![CDATA[Thank you, from the Nourse Farms Team]]> https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postthank-you-from-the-nourse-farms-team https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postthank-you-from-the-nourse-farms-team Tue, 22 Dec 2020 00:00:00 GMT Dear Nourse Farms family,

2020 was one of the most challenging years we have faced in our 88-year history here at Nourse Farms and that many of us have faced in our lifetime. Through it, our incredible team of employees came together to ensure that we were able to continue to provide the high-quality products and service our customers know and expect. We couldn't be more proud of them.

We were thrilled to see our customers enthusiastically dig in this year—whether for your home garden, commercial farm, or wholesale business. We beam with pride with every shared success story, every thank you note, every photo we receive. After all, you are the reason why we do what we do every day.

As we look to 2021, we are ready to continue to show you why Nourse Farms is a brand you can trust. Our team is filled with ideas and enthusiasm and we will be here to help you tackle whatever comes our way.

Thank you for being a part of the Nourse Farms family. We look forward to continuing to serve you.


Tim Nourse                  John Place
President                     Chief Operating Officer
Nourse Farms, Inc.      Nourse Farms, Inc.

Posted in: News

<![CDATA[2021 Catalog is Available Now]]> https://www.noursefarms.com/news/post2021-catalog-is-available-now https://www.noursefarms.com/news/post2021-catalog-is-available-now Mon, 21 Dec 2020 00:00:00 GMT It's time to start thinking about your 2021 season!

View the 2021 Catalog now.

Don't delay...we're selling out fast. Order today!

Posted in: News

<![CDATA["Dig In" To Your Soil]]> https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postdig-in-to-your-soil https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postdig-in-to-your-soil Wed, 02 Dec 2020 00:00:00 GMT Soil is the foundation of your garden. Just like a building needs a good foundation, a garden does, too. When you provide your plants with the right foundation, it is noticeable in the plants’ health, productivity, and longevity. The ground you’ll be considering for planting may not be in the most ideal condition or have the proper characteristics for what you want to plant. You’ll need to condition that environment for your plants to flourish. That’s where amendments come in. Amendments are incredibly important, and here at Nourse Farms, we talk about them often. Let’s review soil and other important terms before we “dig in” to soil amendments.

Is there a difference between soil and dirt?

One of our employees explained this difference well: “When I first started in agriculture, a farmer I worked with explained the difference between soil and dirt to me like this: ‘Soil is what makes it possible to grow our plants; dirt is what you get on your clothes and under your nails.’”

Another employee added a nugget of wisdom gleaned from Tim Nourse himself: “I was told, ‘Plants grow in soil. Dirt is what you sweep off your kitchen floor.’”

These are two memorable ways of explaining that soil supports life; dirt does not.

What is soil?
Soil is a mixture of broken-down rock particles of varied sizes, minerals, organic matter, gases, liquids, and organisms. Soil serves as a medium for plant growth, which is why we talk about it so much. Healthy soil lives! There should be lots of organisms that live and die in soil, some large enough for you to see with the naked eye and some that you need a microscope to see—bacteria, insects, fungi, and more. All contribute to, along with air and water, the health of the soil, the plants growing there, and the earth overall.

Organic matter is an important soil component. It is made up of living organisms and dead organisms in varying states of decay, as well as waste products from living organisms. Organic matter affects water retention, nutrient levels, and more.

Soil serves a greater purpose than holding a plant in one place. Different plant types will only survive or thrive in specific soil conditions. For example, blueberry plants require intermittent water and a rather acidic soil compared to many other fruits and vegetables. Some varieties of plants thrive in varied soil conditions, such as Millennium asparagus. One customer described it as being so vigorous in his rich riverbed soil, he tried growing it in the sand of Cape Cod and was shocked to have succeeded (with our soil amendment advice, of course)!

What kinds of soil are there?
A soil texture or type refers to the overall range of particle size and shape that makes up the soil where your plants will lay roots. There are many types of soil, as most soils are made up of a combination of particle sizes. Particle size and shape make the soil feel different to the touch, and affect how water, air/gasses, nutrients, and even plant roots move through it. If the soil is comprised of a very high percentage of the smallest particles, it is clay soil. Silt particles are a bit larger than clay, and sand particles are larger still. Larger particles leave larger gaps between each other for movement of air, water, and more. The most common soil types or categories are: clay, silt, loam, sand, clay-loam, sandy-loam, chalky, and peat.

Soil with more clay-sized particles holds water, minerals, and nutrients more readily. This soil type feels slick and somewhat sticky and is slower to warm in spring than other soil types. Particles snug together more tightly, making the soil heavy or dense. This type of soil is very easily compacted, so you should try not to walk on it in planting areas—keep to pavers and pathways to help those roots below from becoming compressed. Clay soil hardens when dry. It may be a bonus in raised beds, as they dry out quicker than conventional beds and if you are working with clay or clayish soil, building raised beds can be a smart alternative to planting in the ground, as they can give your plants the improved drainage they need to survive.

Silt particles are larger than clay, but much finer than sand. Silt can feel soft and smooth, even silky or powdery like flour. It can hold nutrients and water better than sand. It is very light and can easily blow away in the wind or wash away quickly with flowing water if there is no vegetation to hold it or slow its movement. It can compact easily like clay and stay too wet for too long for many plants.

Loam, or loamy soil, is medium-textured, loose, and crumbly when dry, and has a great balance of qualities for growing many, if not most, crops. It typically contains 40—50% each sand and silt, with 10—20% clay. The ratio of particle sizes allows it to hold nutrients and minerals well, makes it easy to work with, and also gives it the ability to hold water long enough to give roots time to absorb water, yet drain quickly enough to allow plant roots to breathe adequately.

Sand feels rough or gritty and erodes easily. Particles are large compared to silt and clay, allowing sizeable gaps between for air, water, nutrients, and organisms to move easily. In the spring, sand or sandy soil warms earlier than other soil types. You will need to water this type of soil more frequently compared to other soil types.

This is a loamy soil that includes a much higher percentage of clay-sized particles. This soil type will require less frequent watering than loamy soil or sandy-loam so that roots don’t stay too wet.

Loamy soil with a much greater proportion of sand-sized particles. You will need to water this type of soil more frequently than clay or silty soils but less than sandy soils.

Chalky soil is typically made up of larger grains so will drain well but can be clumpy when wet. It is usually strongly alkaline, so, if the area is deep, it is an ideal location for asparagus which thrives in a ‘sweet soil.’ It is not a good place to try to grow blueberries, which require a much more acidic soil.

Peat or Peaty Soil
Peat or peaty soil is not very soil-like because it is predominantly organic matter instead of having a rock origin. It is very unlikely that you have peaty soil in your garden. Peat is very slowly formed by layer upon layer of wetland plants (like sedges and mosses) growing, dying, and decomposing. It will feel spongy, especially when wet, and can stay saturated for a very long time, which is not healthy for most fruit and vegetable crops or flower gardens.

Peat in your garden
Peat is common component for potting mixes and a good amendment for raised beds and garden soils. Contrary to what you might think, it does not stay super-saturated if mixed with soil in the right amounts. Avoid using a high percentage of peat to avoid excess soil moisture. When first adding peat be sure to moisten it in a wheelbarrow or other container before mixing into your soil as it can be difficult to re-hydrate. Peat is quite acidic and can be a good amendment for blueberry beds however its acidity is lost quickly and therefore it is not a reliable method of soil acidification.

We’ve mentioned alkaline and acidity and we know that that often requires a little explanation.

What is soil pH?
Soil pH refers to the measurement of the acidity or alkalinity. Soil pH is an important variable when talking about plants because it impacts chemical processes, which includes nutrient availability for plants. The pH scale is 0 to 14, with a pH of 7 being considered neutral. If pH is higher than 7, it is considered alkaline and if pH is lower than 7, it is considered acidic. A small decrease on the pH scale represents a very large increase in acidity. Most plants thrive in soil with a pH between about 6 and 7. To a strawberry plant, 6.5 pH would be perfect, but a pH of 5 would be too acidic. If you want to learn more about soil pH, we recommend giving the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service website a visit.

The ideal pH for plants you can get from Nourse Farms:

  • Strawberries: 6.5—6.8
  • Raspberries: 6.5—6.8
  • Blackberries: 6.5—6.8
  • Blueberries: 4.5—4.8
  • Currants: 6.0—6.5
  • Gooseberries: 6.0—6.5
  • Elderberries: 6.0—6.8
  • Asparagus: 7.2+
  • Horseradish: 6.2—6.7
  • Rhubarb: 6.0—6


Why does pH matter?

Soil pH directly impacts the nutrients available in the soil, as well as other factors that impact plant growth, such as soil bacteria and structure.

How do I figure out my soil’s pH?
Test it regularly! You can quickly and easily test your soil’s pH using a Digital Soil pH Meter. The tool comes with easy-to-follow instructions that making testing as straightforward as possible.

We strongly recommend against guessing or assuming the soil pH. Test the soil and try to apply the proper amount of lime or sulfur and mix it several inches into the soil where the roots will be growing. If you need to make an adjustment later, and apply the material at the soil surface, it will take longer to affect the plants.

Then what?
Once you know your soil’s pH, it’s time to make any necessary amendments! Here are some ways you might need to amend your soil.

  • If you need to raise your soil pH, you can add lime, which will reduce its acidity. Some would say to make it more alkaline or sweet.
  • If you need to lower your soil pH, you can add sulfur, which will make it more acidic or sour.

Soil pH changes are carried out by soil microbes and take place only while soils are warm. It can take 3—4 months of active growing season for the soil’s pH to fully adjust after the amendment is mixed in. Therefore, it is best to amend the soil prior to planting (even a year in advance), so that the soil is conditioned deeply and broadly where the roots will be growing over the next few years.

Our Planting and Success Guide includes a lot of helpful information, including a chart on page 19, that we strongly encourage you to review.

Soil amendments aren’t just to adjust the pH!
Take, for example, blueberry plants. We often recommend using a combination of woodchips to increase aeration, drainage, and weed suppression and sulfur to get the soil to the acidity blueberries thrive in. However, while woodchips can be helpful for blueberries, they could kill raspberry and other bramble plants. Amendments are very plant specific.

Some other examples of soil amendments include:

  • If you need to improve your soil’s aeration, adding woodchips or perlite will help it drain more efficiently.
  • Gypsum can be added to a clay soil to improve aeration and drainage as well as reducing erosion.
  • If you need to improve your soil’s aeration and moisture retention, you can add vermiculite, though it adds less aeration than perlite.
  • You can improve the water-holding capacity of sandy soil or sandy-loam by adding organic matter.
  • You can also increase water drainage capability of a clay-loam by mixing in lots of organic matter.

What to avoid
We strongly recommend against adding sand to clay soil for growing plants. Clay soil can be black or red, is as fine as dust, and is hard for plants to move through. Clay soil is waterlogged in wet months and rock hard in summer. Adding sand will create a cement-like mixture that will not be better for water holding or drainage and it will make it more difficult for your plant’s roots to grow.

If your soil is clay or clayish, the best thing to do is build raised beds to give your plants the greatest possible opportunity for soil drainage, even if you only get occasional wet periods.

Avoid creating a clay bowl by digging out the native soil and replacing it with a better-draining mixture because water will get impeded by the clay sides and bottom and not drain away from the roots. This can cause a host of problems such as root rot and lead to a soil that does not allow oxygen to permeate, which will prevent roots from being able to breathe. Over time, deeper roots will rot and new roots will form in the top few inches of soil, which makes plants weaker and less likely to survive difficult conditions.

Mushroom compost is becoming increasingly more available however we do not recommend using it as a soil amendment as it often contains high levels of soluble salts and can burn plants.

We’re here to help!
Nourse Farms talks about soil amendments frequently because we want you and your plants to be successful! Providing your plants with the healthiest environment you are able to will encourage great growth and yield and even help with pest and disease issues.

You can find some of the products we recommend to test and amend your soil right here. And, of course, we’re here to help every step of the way. If you have a question, just let us know.


Posted in: News

<![CDATA[Start Your Own Food-Producing Garden]]> https://www.noursefarms.com/news/poststart-your-own-food-producing-garden https://www.noursefarms.com/news/poststart-your-own-food-producing-garden Fri, 13 Nov 2020 00:00:00 GMT In a recent poll, 53% of adults in the United States reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the coronavirus pandemic. Nourse Farms’ recommendation? Start a food-producing garden. A recent study found that engaging with a garden can distract us from our worries and stop us from obsessing about our problems. Additionally, garden tasks burn calories, being considered at least moderate exercise, and it gets you out in the fresh air.

If you make the garden a food-producing one, you’ll have a food source right in your own yard. Since the struggle to find food in stores at the start of the pandemic, there has been a surge of people interested in growing their own food. Especially foods with health benefits.

Take berries, for instance. Berries are reportedly high in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. In fact, our very own Tim Nourse recently told Western MA News all about the health benefits of elderberry. Nutrient-dense berries can be added to your own home garden with some preparation and care.

If you’re ready to destress, grow your own food, and enjoy the “fruit of your labor,” the experts here at Nourse Farms have some advice for you to start small fruit growing in your own yard, even if you have a limited amount of space.

Let’s Get Started

Recommended Supplies:


There are six important things you’ll need to grow Nourse Farms’ plants successfully, whether you are planting strawberries, raspberries, or asparagus.


1. You’ll need a sunny, weed-free location. 

Plants should have a minimum of 6—8 hours of direct sun exposure daily. Early morning sun is preferred if possible because, especially in midwestern and southern states, afternoon sun can be pretty intense in the heat of the summer. In contrast, morning sun is sometimes easier on plants and it can help evaporate moisture from dew or an early morning shower. Keeping plants drier hinders fungal development.

You’ll also want to weed the area before planting and use appropriate techniques to keep the planting area weed-free. This means, on a frequent schedule, you’ll hand pull or use a hoe or rake very shallowly, to remove small weeds before they get well-rooted.


2. You’ll need healthy soil.

All of Nourse Farms’ plants grow well in a wide variety of soils. However, for best growth, we recommend that the soil have at least 2—3% organic matter. If you rake and remove grass and leaves for years, leaving nothing to decompose, your soil may have little organic matter. Your soil will need organic matter, in the form of well-composted kitchen or yard waste, manure, or commercial compost mixed in.

If the soil is not well-drained, meaning it often puddles or the ground stays wet and muddy, consider planting in raised beds, but be aware that planting in raised beds is not recommended for some plants, such as asparagus, and can add an increased risk of cold damage.


3. You’ll need to prepare your planting site ahead of time.

It is ideal to have the site prepared for planting before you receive your plants, that way they can be planted immediately. Nutrient and pH requirements are not the same for all plants. We recommend having your soil tested before planting to know your soil pH and fertility. You can contact your local cooperative extension office for information on taking soil samples, and for assistance in interpreting test results. For each soil sample, you’ll want to tell them what crop(s) you plan to grow to get the proper recommendations for that plant type.


4. You’ll need to know how and when to water the plants.

Plants need adequate soil moisture to grow and fruit well. You’ll want to be sure that you water plants thoroughly when you transplant and again once more within the planting week. While it is critical to maintain proper moisture levels during the establishment period, it’s also important to irrigate regularly to maintain proper moisture from spring right through the autumn months. Your plants will require less water in the spring and the autumn months because the sun is less direct, the days are cooler and shorter, and there are usually cloudier days than in the summer. Make sure not to overwater, but the plants should not be drought stressed going into winter. We highly recommend drip irrigation for maintaining proper soil moisture. Overhead irrigation can be insufficient for maintaining soil moisture, additionally it increases leaf/canopy moisture which increases fungal pressure.

On average, plants should receive 1—3” of water each week. Irrigate 1—3 times per week rather than every day. We say on average because many factors play a role in how much and when your plants need water. Things to remember are that in the spring and fall plants require less water than in the summer. Water requirements also vary according to soil type or texture. And your irrigation method will impact frequency as well.

We recommend using your eyes and hands—or a trowel— to check the soil moisture before you water. Perhaps even check the soil moisture every day until you get a sense of how quickly it gets dry in certain conditions.


5. You’ll need to plant early in the spring.

Plant as early as possible in the spring, but only after the soil has warmed to about 50°F, as warm soil stimulates plant growth. Average seasonal rains are an excellent aid in getting your plants off to the best start however avoid long stretches of wet weather when planting as soil can stay waterlogged. Fall planting of small fruit plants is not recommended for the majority of the Northeast and the Midwest.

Tip: Pay attention to instructions regarding how deep to set the new plants, as well as the direction of planting, as they will fail to flourish or grow if the roots are too deep or too shallow and if the soil is not pressed firmly around the roots.


6. You’ll need to rotate land.

Avoid planting strawberries or brambles in soils where previous crops have included: strawberries, brambles, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, or peppers. These crops harbor soil pathogens, such as Verticillium and Phytophthora, and nematodes, which may affect the health and growth of your new plants.


Bonus Tips from the Experts at Nourse Farms:

  • Keep in mind that different plants may have different pH or fertilizer needs, so plant accordingly. 
  • Be mindful of planting taller plants where they will shade plants that need lots of sun.
  • Avoid planting close to buildings or fences as this restricts air movement causing increased fungal pressure as well as heat stress during the summer.
  • Pests happen. For smaller gardens or individual beds, fencing with small openings can work for non-tunneling, non-climbing pests and deer.
  • If you’re planting asparagus, be mindful to plant it in a permanent location because older asparagus plants do not transplant well.
  • Avoid working in wet or muddy soil.


You ready? Then let’s get your supplies! Scroll to the top of this page where you will see Berry Plants, Other Plants, and Grower Accessories menu options. Select what you’d like to shop for and go for it! If you have any questions, let us know. We’re here to help you every step of the way!

For even more tips and tricks for successfully planting Nourse Farms plants, check out our Planting and Success Guide.

Posted in: News

<![CDATA[Greetings from Whately]]> https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postnewsletter_greeting_fall_2020 https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postnewsletter_greeting_fall_2020 Thu, 05 Nov 2020 00:00:00 GMT Welcome to our Fall 2020 Newsletter.....

Enormous Challenges in 2020. This is an understatement for me. The normal everyday challenges that growers face were small compared to the effects of COVID 19! However, as growers always do, we adjust and move forward. Along with the downside, there were opportunities that growers took advantage of: people reacted very positively to the pick-your-own season in 2020. Some customers acknowledged it was the best season ever! Growers with retail and farmers markets had excellent response from their customers, as well. Throughout the season we experienced high demand for all berry crops. Overall, we feel we were blessed with the opportunities presented to us.

Weather and Labor Challenges. We experience these challenges every year and have no expectation this will change. It takes extensive planning to keep a good labor team and to manage around weather events. But growers do that! We experienced two extended dry periods this season, both of which were tests for our irrigation crew. We missed having occasional moist periods to provide relief to the plants. Yet we are fortunate to have a great crop of plants to off er you for the 2021 season!

We Are Now Growing Strawberry Plug Plants. We grew our first round of plug plants in 2020,  and the response from growers was positive. Looking forward to 2021, we are planning to increase production. We are still finalizing our plans: we hope to produce Galletta, Darsalect, Flavorfest and AC Valley Sunset plugs for 2021. We will provide more details on our plug production for 2021 in our Spring Newsletter. So stay tuned!

My Outlook for 2021. I feel there will be continued demand for all berry crops, and continued influence from the COVID pandemic as we experienced in 2020. I also believe there will be high demand for all berry plants for the coming year -- so I recommend that upon reviewing this Fall Newsletter, you place your order so you are protected on the varieties important to your program. Our Sales Team is here to provide the service you deserve.

All of us here at Nourse Farms thank you for all your past business and we look forward to serving you in the coming season, and to assisting you with the challenges you may face in the New Year!

My Special Thanks,

Posted in: Newsletter, Newsletter Greeting

<![CDATA[Blackberry Production]]> https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postblackberry-production https://www.noursefarms.com/news/postblackberry-production Thu, 05 Nov 2020 00:00:00 GMT Blackberry Production - the Ins and Outs

Blackberries – both floricane and primocane varieties – are increasing in popularity. The timing of both crops coincides nicely with other small fruit crops whether for U-Pick, roadside stands, or wholesale production.

Below we focus on the basics of blackberry production. Please contact our office for more advanced recommendations.

Site Preparation
Preparations for blackberry plantings should begin at least one year in advance. We advise taking soil samples to get a read on your pH, % organic matter and overall fertility to make any necessary changes. We recommend a pH in the 6.5 – 6.8 range with a minimum of 2-3% organic matter.

A nutritionally healthy planting in a well-drained soil with exposure to air movement is less susceptible to damage from pests and frosts. Blackberries are marginally winter hardy, so choose the location carefully. Blackberries require good internal soil drainage to grow and will perform best in a well-drained sandy loam. Wet soils restrict root growth and respiration, resulting in weak growth and reduced yields. Planting into raised beds is highly recommended to improve soil drainage in the rooting zone, particularly on heavier soils. Selecting a site with a gentle slope (3-4%) and good air drainage will also promote faster drying of foliage, flowers and fruit which will reduce the duration and frequency of disease infection periods. Recommended plant spacing is 3-4 feet in the row and 10-12 feet between rows. 

Drip irrigation is an essential component to successful blackberry production. Plants generally require 1-2 inches of water per week in the growing season and 2-3 inches per week during harvest. We suggest having your local irrigation sales company review your field layout for the best recommendations for your situation.

Choosing a variety
Picking the appropriate varieties for your operation is one of the most important decisions a grower can make. In northern areas, winter-hardiness is a key factor in choosing a variety. As a guideline, most varieties are winter-hardy to 10 degrees.


Earliest ripening thornless variety with very high production of very large, flavorful berries. As it is semi-erect, it will perform best with a trellis. Zones 5-9.

Based on breeder information, one of the sweetest and most flavorful berries with good yield potential and excellent post-harvest fruit quality. Ripens shortly after Natchez, but before Caddo, meeting an important early ripening window. Full description on next page. Zones 6-9.

Early results show Caddo ripening between Natchez and Osage with comparable yields to Osage and Ouachita. Full description on next page. Zones 5-9.

Consistently among the best tasting Arkansas varieties. Berry size is medium; vigorous plants may require less nitrogen than other varieties. Its early ripening makes it susceptible to spring frost. Zones 6-9.

A standard in the industry. A thornless variety with excellent fruit quality with firm, sweet, attractive berries. Ripens before Navaho. Plants are very erect with moderate vigor but lack of winter hardiness does limit it to Mid-Atlantic, West Coast and South. Zones 6-9.

Considered one of the more winter-hardy and productive varieties for northern locations. One of the latest Floricane varieties, Chester produces large, high quality fruit that ripens in early to mid-August. Optimum flavor when fruit is picked fully ripe and holds it’s quality & color through
storage. Zones 5-9.


U.S. Plant Patent #22,449

Prime-Ark 45 is a thorny, primocane-bearing blackberry with an erect growing habit. Primocane berries are medium size while floricane fruit is larger. Trials indicate variety is very productive and fruit holds up well after picking making it suitable for shipping. Can be treated as a floricane variety as well with ripening time between Natchez and before Ouachita.

With an upright growth habit and excellent fruit quality, Prime Ark Freedom is a variety to try for local commercial distribution. We recommend trialing this variety and experimenting with different tipping heights for maximum production.

Planting & Fertilization
Destroy all wild brambles within 500 to 1,000 feet of your planting site. We recommend planting early in the spring when soil temperatures are in the 45 – 50-degree range. Do not fertilize at planting. Sample your soil the previous year to determine nutritional needs. If needed, once plants are established, apply 20-35 pounds actual nitrogen per acre based on soil type. Higher levels of actual nitrogen may be recommended in subsequent years based on soil tests.

Trellising & Pruning
We recommend all brambles, including blackberries, be supported by a trellis. A trellis keeps canes upright, keeps fruit off the ground, makes picking much easier, and maintains good aeration throughout the planting which helps with disease control.

Nourse Farms uses a rotating cross arm trellis in our floricane blackberry production. This allows us to position canes close to the ground, where they can be covered with a a thick row cover for winter protection, and allows us to grow blackberries in an area where winter temperatures are too cold.

Tipping is an important practice for maximizing yields on both Summer-Bearing (Floricane-Bearing) and Primocane (Fall Bearing) Blackberries. On Floricane varieties, tip 1st-year caneswhen they reach 5 – 6 feet in mid-summer. Tipping stops terminal growth and established fruiting laterals. Fruiting 2nd year canes should be cut to the ground as soon as possible after harvest.

Primocane blackberries respond very favorably to double tipping. As the primocanes reach 12”-15” in height, break or cut the top of the tips. This process stimulates earlier fruit development, increases yield and also keeps plant height in check for easier management and harvest. Tip again at 30”.

Pest Management
Good weed control during the fi rst year is essential. Blackberry plants are sensitive to most herbicides during the first few months after planting. Research from Cornell has shown that applying a clean straw mulch (4 inches deep) to newly planted blackberry plants provides good weed control. On heavy soils mulch should be used only in the fi rst year since straw mulch over a prolonged period can encourage the development of root rots. We do not recommend bark mulch or any other mulch material besides straw.

Like any crop, a variety of pests need to be managed to maximize yields, fruit quality, and extend the life of your planting. Based on grower experience, other than Spotted Wing Drosophila which impact later ripening summer and fall blackberries, growers should be concerned with:
• Phytophthora Root Rot
• Botrytis Fruit Rot (Grey Mold)
• Aphids
• Yellow (Late or Fall) Rust
• Mites

Please review our Spring 2018 and other past newsletters onour website or contact your local cooperative extension office for specifics on possible controls.

Posted in: Bramble Production, Newsletter, Nourse Favorites!