Rested raspberries reward their producers

Carlson is also experimenting with alternate-row production in raspberries. By mowing every other row of his berries, he hopes to significantly reduce fungicide applications and to use preemergence herbicides only once every three or four years. "You would think you would also cut your yields in half, but that's not necessarily the case," he says. "Because of how well the plant responds to a rest year, the research shows that you can get up to 75 percent of your normal production."

According to Carlson, a plethora of cane diseases make raspberries difficult to raise organically, so he grows them with what he calls a "basically conventional IPM approach." He trickle-irrigates them and makes sure to 2 feet of circulation-enhancing space separates his plants, minimizing the odds of raspberry disease.

After almost 15 years as an agricultural entrepreneur, Carlson likens fruit crops to "waves coming into shore." They don't produce harvests immediately but, like those waves, they "will come in the long run." Although working for himself — and for the health of his customers and the environment — is less predictable than his old university paycheck, Carlson makes sure he's still waiting on the shore by keeping his risks manageable.

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