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Oklahoma Agriculture in the Classroom

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Agricultural Facts

Berries


Berries
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Blackberries
THE SONG OF THE BLACKBERRY QUEEN
My berries cluster black and thick
For rich and poor alike to pick.
I'll tear your dress, and cling, and tease,
And scratch your hand and arms and knees.
I'll stain your fingers and your face,
And then I'll laugh at your disgrace.
But when the bramble-jelly's made,
You'll find your trouble well repaid.
by Cicely Mary Barker
  • Blackberry is a small round fruit that grows on a flowering shrub or a trailing vine. Blackberries may be black, dark red, or yellow.
  • Each blackberry consists of a cluster of tiny fruits called drupelets, which grow around a core known as the receptacle.
  • Blackberries are often confused with black raspberries. But the receptacles of blackberries, unlike those of black raspberries and other raspberries, are eaten with the rest of the fruit.
  • Blackberries are eaten fresh or are processed for use in making jam, jelly, pies, preserves, and wine.
  • The US is the leading producer of blackberries. The fruit grows wild in most Midwestern and Eastern states, including Oklahoma. Blackberries are also produced commercially in Oklahoma.
  • Growers produce blackberry plants by cutting 6-inch sections from blackberry roots and burying them in loose loam. The roots are placed in rows about 8 to 10 feet (2.4 to 3 meters) apart to ensure proper development of the fruit. Growers plant the root sections in early spring, and only fruitless stems develop during the first growing season. Fruit production starts the next year and reaches its peak in the fourth or fifth years.
  • Most blackberry plants live 15 to 20 years.
  • Blackberries to be sold as fresh fruit are harvested by hand. Those to be sold for processing are harvested by machines that shake the fruit from the bush. More than 90 percent of the blackberries grown commercially in the US are sold for processing.
  • Blackberry plants require special care to produce large crops of fruit. For example, growers prune the plants regularly. In addition, growers spray the plants with pesticides for protection against insects.
  • The blackberry is a member of the rose family, Rosaceae.
Blueberries
  • Blueberries are the fruits of a shrub that belong to the heath family, which includes the cranberry and bilberry as well as the azalea, mountain laurel and rhododendron.
  • Blueberries grow in clusters and range in size from that of a small pea to a marble. They are deep in color, ranging from blue to maroon to purple-black, and feature a white-gray waxy "bloom" that covers the surface serving as a protective coat. The skin surrounds a semi-transparent flesh that encases tiny seeds.
  • Blueberries are the most widely grown fruit crop in the US.
  • Blueberries are native to North America, where they grow throughout the woods and mountainous regions in the US and Canada. This fruit is rarely found growing in Europe and has only been recently introduced in Australia.
  • There are approximately 30 different species of blueberries, with different ones growing throughout various regions.
  • North American Indian natives used blueberries in pemmican, a traditional dish composed of blueberries and dried meat.
  • Blueberries were not cultivated until the beginning of the 20th century. They became commercially available in 1916.
  • Blueberries are rich in Vitamins C, manganese and dietary fiber
Raspberries
  • Like blackberries, raspberries are members of the rose family.
  • Raspberries can trace a long history dating back to prehistoric times. While wild raspberries are thought to have originated in eastern Asia, there are also varieties that are native to the Western Hemisphere. The seeds of these raspberries were likely to have been carried by travelers or animals that came across the Bering Straight during ancient times.
  • The spread of wild raspberries through the world seems to have occurred via similar means. The early hunter-gatherers traveled to far distances to collect food. On their treks back to the villages they would discard what they considered to be inferior quality foods, including the smaller sized raspberries. Thus began the propagation of these plants in other areas.
  • There seems to be no evidence that raspberries were cultivated until this millennia, with the first written mention being found in an English book on herbal medicine dated 1548. Raspberries began to be grown more widely in Europe and North America in the 19th century when many new varieties such as the loganberry and boysenberry were developed through either accidental or intentional crossbreeding.
  • The leading commercial producers of raspberries include Russia, Poland, Yugoslavia, Germany, Chile and the United States.
Strawberries
  • The strawberry is a member of the rose family. It is the only fruit with seeds on the outside rather than the inside.
  • A strawberry is not an actual berry, but a banana is.
  • On average, there are 200 seeds in a strawberry.
  • Over 53 percent of seven- to nine-year-olds choose strawberries as their favorite fruit.
  • Eight strawberries will provide 140 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C for kids.
  • Native forms of strawberries adapt to various climates and are indigenous to every major continent except Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
  • The fruit size of the very early strawberries was very small.
  • Seventy per cent of a strawberry's roots are located in the top three inches of soil.
  • Strawberries are the first fruit to ripen in the spring.
  • One cup of strawberries is only 55 calories.
  • Strawberries, like other berries, are a rich source of phenols, especially anthocyanins and ellagitannins. The anthocyanins provide the strawberry with its flush red coloring but also help protect cell structures in the body and prevent oxygen damage in all of the body's organ systems.
  • Strawberries' unique phenol content make them a heart-protective fruit, an anti-cancer fruit and an anti-inflammatory.
  • Strawberries also protect against macular degeneration and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • The flavor of a strawberry is influenced by weather, the variety and stage of ripeness when harvested.
  • Ninety-four per cent of United States households consume strawberries.
  • According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the annual per capita consumption of fresh and frozen strawberries is 4.85 pounds.
  • Strawberries are grown in every state in the United States and every province of Canada.
  • California produces 75 percent of the nation's strawberry crops. Florida is second in production.
  • Lebanon, Oregon's annual strawberry festival is home to the world's largest strawberry shortcake.
  • Strawberries are delicate, requiring gentle handling to prevent bruising. Strawberries shipped from far away are produced for their ability to hold up to shipping conditions.
  • Madame Tallien, a prominent figure at the court of the Emperor Napoleon, was famous for bathing in the juice of fresh strawberries. She used 22 pounds per basin, needless to say, she did not bathe daily.
  • The American Indians were already eating strawberries when the colonists arrived. The crushed berries were mixed with cornmeal and baked into strawberry bread. After trying this bread, Colonists developed their own version of the recipe, and Strawberry Shortcake was created.
  • In Greek and Roman times, the strawberry was a wild plant.
  • The English "strawberry" comes from the Anglo-Saxon "streoberie." It was not spelled in the modern fashion until 1538.
  • In 1780, the first strawberry hybrid "Hudson" was developed in the US.
  • Legend has it that if you break a double strawberry in half and share it with a member of the opposite sex, you will fall in love with each other.
  • The strawberry was a symbol for Venus, the Goddess of Love, because of its heart shapes and red color.
  • Queen Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII had a strawberry shaped birthmark on her neck, which some claimed proved she was a witch.
  • To symbolize perfection and righteousness, medieval stone masons carved strawberry designs on altars and around the tops of pillars in churches and cathedrals.
  • The wide distribution of wild strawberries is largely from seeds sown by birds. When birds eat the wild berries the seeds pass through them intact and in good condition. The germinating seeds respond to light rather than moisture and therefore need no covering of earth to start growing.
  • In parts of Bavaria, country folk still practice the annual rite each spring of tying small baskets of wild strawberries to the horns of their cattle as an offering to elves. They believe that the elves, who are passionately fond of strawberries, will help to produce healthy calves and abundance of milk in return.
  • The strawberry is an accessory fruit; that is, the fleshy part is derived not from the ovaries (which are the "seeds", actually achenes) but from the peg at the bottom of the hypanthium that held the ovaries. So from a technical standpoint, the seeds are the actual fruits of the plant, and the flesh of the strawberry is a vegetable. It is greenish-white as it develops and in most species turns red when ripe.