The RCA (Rotating Cross-Arm) System from Trellis Growing Systems is turning marginal land into profits for many Midwestern farmers who have begun to plant a new cash crop – blackberries. Developed by Indiana grower Richard Barnes, the RCA System enables Midwestern growers to successfully and profitably plant blackberries by overcoming some of the traditional challenges associated with the crop.
Barnes began experimenting with blackberries about 11 years ago and like most growers had issues with different aspects of their operation. He began to do research where he spoke with the USDA who was working on developing a trellis system. After receiving their first grant in 2007, Trellis Growing Systems was born and has since received several other grants.
For the most part, blackberry varieties will not survive the winters in the Midwest. Therefore most blackberries are grown in the more temperate climates of the southern Midwest and the majority of them are coming out of California. But with the development of the RCA System, the game has changed.
“With our technology, the RCA System, we can rotate the canes down near the ground in the winter and if necessary we can cover those canes with a floating row cover,” explained Richard Barnes, creator of the technology and founder of Trellis Growing Systems. “That enables the canes to survive the winter with little to no cane damage, and what this does is open up a whole new opportunity and industry for growers in the Midwest.”
Listen to my interview with Richard Barnes here: RCA Trellis Growing System Turns Acres Into Profits
Barnes said growers using this system have been able to earn $45,000+ in revenue per acre. One reason is that per flat prices are higher in July and August when blackberries are harvested in the Midwest, between $15 to $20 per flat. When the majority of blackberries are harvested in May or June in other regions, flat prices are around $12 to $13 per flat.
Trellis Growing Systems, along with Bedford (their manufacturing partner) will be showcasing their blackberry technology during the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois August 30-September 1, 2011 in booth 575. Barnes said growers can get a personal demonstration of the RCA System anytime during the show, or they can pre-schedule an appointment to learn more by calling him at 260-241-3128. You can also get more information on their website at www.trellisgrowingsystems.com.