Keeping Our Berries in Top Form
Berry Innovators also lead teams of plant pathologists who ensure plants and berries stay healthy, all the way from their time in the nurseries to the fruiting fields. A key to keeping plants healthy is making sure the plants have good genetics and are resistant to disease from the very beginning. Robust plants are much more likely to survive and allow for a large yield. These Berry Innovators work on preventative care for plants, collaborate with breeders, and also make house calls to check on plants when they’re growing out in the fields.
Berry Innovators spend a lot of time doing preventative testing to make sure the planting stock is clean. If breeders start with a clean plant, they’re much more likely to keep a clean plant. That’s why one of the Berry Innovator mottos is “Start clean. Stay clean.”
One of the things that growers at Driscoll’s do to keep plants healthy is to use “cover crops.” This means rotating berry fields with other plants from season to season. Cover crops are part of how you manage soil between seasons. This helps prevent disease and encourages soil health and soil structure. You might be surprised to learn that broccoli is a really good crop to rotate with between seasons!
Working with Breeders
Berry Innovators also work with breeders to tests plants for disease resistance. Berry Innovators will purposefully try to make a plant sick to test which ones are the healthiest. This way, Driscoll’s can be confident that the berries that you buy at the supermarket are the strongest and most robust ones.
Sometimes, despite best efforts, plants can get sick in the field. So the Berry Innovators team will visit growers and (just like a doctor) write a prescription to the growers. This often means making changes in the fields (such as adjusting the tunnels, which are the plant coverings that protect plants from too much water).