Plant growth and development
- Plant is “dormant.”
- Some differentiation is occurring in the flower buds.
Pruning and trellising
- Pruning should occur in late winter. However, in some areas winter ice storms can do tremendous damage to plants and trellis systems. If you produce blackberries in one of these areas, pruning can take place early in winter to help avoid severe damage.
- Make trellis repairs after plants have defoliated but before pruning and training.
- Prune out the spent floricanes.
- Tie canes to wires in a fan shape.
- Cut lateral branches back to 8 to 12-inches.
- Thin canes to 6 to 8 canes/hill (4 ft. spacing).
- Prune out spent floricanes.
- Tie or weave canes to wire so that they do not overlap.
- Prune side laterals to 12 to 18-inches.
- Thin canes to 6 to 8/hill (6 to 8 ft. spacing)
Primocane fruiting berries
- Prune (mow) to ground level.
- Many summer weed problems can be best managed in the fall and winter using preemergent herbicides. Determine what weeds have been or could be a problem in your area. Check the 2011 N.C. Agricultural Chemicals Manual and your local extension center for the best-labeled chemicals to control these weeds.
- Establishing new plants in rows of black plastic or landscape cloth can reduce weed problems significantly.
Insect and disease scouting
- Scout fields for for insect and disease damage and remove those canes.
- Remove wild brambles within 600 ft. of your plantings during the winter.
- Apply liquid lime sulfur or Bordreaux for disease control before new buds are 1/8-inch.
- Check the Southeast Regional Brambles Integrated Management Guide for recommendation as well as www.smallfruits.org.
- Dr. Hannah Burracks Blog includes timely information on insects of interest.
- Growers in warmer areas (e.g. extreme southeastern North Carolina) can plant in December.
- Take soil tests to determine fertility needs for spring plantings.
- Prepare list of cultivars for next year’s new plantings.
- Broadcast any recommended lime, P2O5 and K2O along with 30 lb. nitrogen per acre before plowing. Do not add additional fertilizer when plants are set out. In July, topdress with additional nitrogen at the rate of 30 lb. per acre.
- If you limed and fertilized the crop at setting according to soil test recommendations, follow this fertilization schedule. In March, broadcast 40 lb. N, 40 lb. P2O5 and 80 lb. K2O per acre. In July, topdress with additional N at the rate of 60 to 80 lb. per acre.
- If you did NOT lime and fertilize the crop at setting according to soil test recommendations, follow this fertilization schedule:
- Have the soil tested.
- Broadcast any recommended lime as soon as possible.
- In March, apply the recommended rates of P2O5 and K2O along with 40 lb. N per acre.
- In July, topdress with N at the rate of 60 to 80 lb. per acre.
- The following year, use the maintenance schedule outlined above as if you did lime fertilize at setting.
- Have the soil tested at least once every three years.
- Make repairs to irrigation system (check pumps, lines, etc.).
- Plants generally do not need supplemental water in winter.
Marketing and Miscellaneous
- Order containers for next season.
- Make contacts for selling fruit next season.
Make plans to attend grower meetings! There is a caneberry session at the 2012 SE Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference in Savannah, Ga., January 5-8, 2012. The 2012 North American Raspberry and Blackberry Conference will be held January 16-18, 2012 in Sandusky, Ohio, in association with the Ohio Produce Growers and Marketers Association. The North Carolina Commercial Blackberry and Raspberry Growers Association meeting is February 6, 2011, in Shelby, N.C. For more information, contact Daniel Shires, N.C. State University, or Josh Beam, SunnyRidge Farm.