Brambles and Sassafras Agroforestry
Berry production is very profitable in the South but unpredictable in the North Central Region due to cold winters, variable soil characteristics and little research.
Sassafras has a viable market for its leaves and bark, and can be used to supplement berry sales when bramble harvests are low. Sassafras tree canopies also help to reduce sun scald damage incidence to fruit, as well as serve in an aesthetic purpose for a berry U-pick operation.
Objective: To develop an agroforestry system with several blackberry and raspberry varieties to serve as a source of annual income, and sassafras trees to serve as a source of supplementary income.
The producer tilled several five-by-200-foot rows for 50 plants each of three blackberry varieties and another 50 plants each of three raspberry varieties. Each plot was mounded to improve drainage, and brambles were planted down the center of the rows. Each row was mulched, trellised, pruned and mowed to improve weed control and irrigation efficiency.
Results: The brambles are well-established. The project was extended one year to gather data on berry harvests and allow for sassafras planting.