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Crop Connection

Three new blackberry varieties created

The best of eastern and western blackberry genetics have been melded to create Eclipse, Galaxy and Twilight, three new blackberry varieties released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.

The Agricultural Research Service’s Horticultural Crops Research Laboratory in Corvallis, Oregon, working in cooperation with the Oregon State University-Agricultural Experiment Station, blended the desirable traits of eastern erect-cane blackberries and western trailing blackberries into new varieties with thornless semi-erect canes to fill new niches in the fresh berry market.

Eclipse was the first of the three varieties from those crosses to move from the test fields to final selection. Its name was changed from ORUS 2816-4 to Eclipse to commemorate the total solar eclipse visible in Corvallis in 2017.

The second blackberry release, Galaxy, has Triple Crown as a parent and inherited similar traits, with the firmer skin of Eclipse. But it produces a few days earlier than Eclipse. Galaxy's berries are slightly larger than those of Eclipse with dark-colored fruit.

The third release was named following the same sky theme, and the specific name Twilight was selected because it ripens last of the three varieties, four to five days after Eclipse.

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Grant helps farmers improve manure management

The Practical Farmers of Iowa recently received a $1.1 million Conservation Innovation Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to help farmers in five states -- Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin -- use small grains to improve fertilizer and manure management in extended crop rotations.

The project was one of 24 selected from more than 100 applicants through the Conservation Innovation Grant grants program. The 2020 funding pool awarded more than $14.6 million and focused on five priority areas -- air quality, water quality, water reuse, energy conservation and wildlife habitat. The Practical Farmers of Iowa project is one of four funded in the air-quality category.

As part of the three-year project the Practical Farmers of Iowa will work with 11 supply-chain partners – Cargill, General Mills, McDonalds, Oatly, PepsiCo, Seven Sundays, Smithfield, Starbucks, Target, Truterra and Unilever – to help farmers in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin use small-grains crops and market-based solutions to decrease greenhouse-gas emissions linked to nitrogen from manure and fertilizer. Visit for more information.

Service collects production, stocks data

As the 2020 growing season came to an end, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service is contacting producers nationwide to gather final year-end crop-production numbers and the amount of grain and oilseeds stored on their farms. At the same time the National Agricultural Statistics Service is surveying grain-facility operators to determine year-end off-farm grain and oilseed stocks. Survey results will be published in several reports, including the Crop Production Annual Summary and the quarterly Grain Stocks report, both to be released in January. Visit for more information.

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