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Braving Bees To Train Our Berries

We’re a couple of months away from harvesting our two acres of Prickless Marionberries. The canes are growing fast and filled with flowers. Some are already growing berries. This is going to be a great crop.

Photo May 10, 2 55 06 PM

The terroir of Rogue Farms is ideal for marionberries. They were developed right across from the river from us in Marion County, Oregon. Almost the entire US crop is grown in the state.

But even in excellent growing conditions, like we have at Rogue Farms, marionberries require a lot of hands-on attention. This week it was time to train the primocanes, the new canes that emerged earlier this spring.

Photo May 10, 2 00 35 PM

Photo May 10, 2 02 26 PM

Above and below: Training primocanes. The new canes of the season are tied together so they grow straight with the rows.

To understand why we do this, here’s a couple of marionberry terms to know.

Primocanes are the first year’s growth. They don’t produce any fruit. Our job is to take as good care of them as possible so that they make it through next winter and become floricanes.

Floricanes are canes in their second year. These are the ones that blossom and grow berries.

Once you’ve established a field of marionberries, you’ll have a mixture of primocanes and floricanes on the same plant. Primocanes are trained to run along the ground, floricanes are trained to the trellis wires. That keeps them separate so the floricanes get all the sun they need to produce berries.

This Is Gonna Sting

The other thing to know about training marionberries this time of year is that they are filled with honeybees.

Marionberry and bee Photo May 10, 12 10 53 PM

In the lower right, a Rogue Farms honeybee pollinates one of our marionberry blossoms.

That’s not a coincidence. We planted our marionberries next to the colonies of our 7,140,289 Rogue Farms honeybees. The bees pollinate the marionberries for us and bring back the nectar to the hives to make honey. We use both the berries and the honey to brew our Marionberry Braggot.

So training season is also stinging season. Grabbing the canes and tying them together riles the honeybees and might get you stung a couple of times. But it’s all part of the day’s work at Rogue Farms. Once we were done the bees left us alone.

You can see our honeybees, Prickless Marionberries, Dream Pumpkins, cucumbers, seven varieties of hops and more by coming by Rogue Farms this season. Watching the crops grow before your eyes, and knowing that they’re the ingredients in the beer you’re drinking, is an experience unlike anything else.

Join us and see how we grow beer, spirits, ciders and sodas from ground to glass.

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