Plant growth and development
- Fruit development
- Rapid primocane growth
- Floricanes senesce after fruiting
Pruning and trellising
- May need to adjust primocane numbers if canes are too thick (i.e. remove less vigorous primocanes at their base).
- Train primocanes to the trellis centers.
- Pinch black raspberry primocanes at 2 to 3 ft. to promote lateral growth.
- Train primocanes within a trellis to hold canes erect.
Erect blackberry types
- In warm climates with a long growing season, tip the new primocanes when they are about 6 to 12 inches below the top wire of the trellis to encourage lateral branching. Continue tipping at monthly intervals to maintain desired branching and height of canopy (laterals should reach top wire).
- In colder climates, tip primocanes once when they are about 2 to 3 ft. tall to encourage lateral branching.
- Prune out spent floricanes after they have produced fruit, do not thin out primocanes until mid-to late winter.
- Train primocanes to trellis to minimize interference with harvest. Shift trellises or V trellises make this relatively easy.
Trailing blackberry types
- Train new primocanes to middle of trellis, or on the ground in a weed-free area or temporarily to trellis outside of fruiting area (depends on trellis type).
- Cut back side shoots to 18 inches (after dormancy in cold climates).
- Remove spent floricanes after harvest.
- Canes should be tipped at 3 to 4 ft. to increase branching and fruiting potential.
- Mow along side of row to maintain the width of the bed to 3 to 4 ft.
- Weed growth can be very vigorous at the same time as the bramble crop peaks.
- Weed control is best done earlier in the season before harvest commences.
- Mow middles regularly to allow pickers to move easily through rows.
Insect and disease scouting
- Spotted wing dropsophila (See Dr. Hannah Burrack’s blog – http://ncsmallfruitsipm.blogspot.com/ – for up-to-date information.)
- Raspberry crown borer (canes girdled and wilt)
- Two-spotted spider mite
- June beetle
- Japanese beetles
- Stink bugs
- Fire ants
- Orange felt (orange cane blotch) (blackberry)
- Sooty blotch (blackberry)
- Orange rust
- Powdery mildew
- Double blossom (blackberry)
- Cane blight (blackberry)
Check the Southeast Regional Brambles Integrated Management Guide for recommendations.
- Bramble plants need about 1 to 2 inches of water each week; this amount is especially critical during harvest.
- For blackberries (not raspberries) in warmer climates only, consider installing an overhead system for evaporative cooling to reduce sunscald. Turn on once or twice a day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for short periods of time (approx. 15 minutes).
- Give plants a deep irrigation after harvest.
- Take leaf samples after harvest and send to a clinic for nutrient analysis, apply nutrients if recommended.
Marketing and Miscellaneous
- The busiest time of the year for a blackberry or raspberry grower is the harvest season. Each plant needs to be harvested every 2 to 3 days. For larger plantings, that means fruit is picked from some part of the field every day of the week.
- Pick blackberries when shiny black for shipping. Those that are dull black are fully ripe and suitable for PYO only.
- Red raspberries can be picked pink and will turn red after harvest. They will have a longer shelf life (see http://teamrubus.blogspot.com/2011/09/can-raspberries-be-picked-pink.htm).
- Pick directly into clamshells with absorbent pads, or for PYO use clean cardboard flats, take-home baskets or sanitized reusable containers.
- Keep harvested fruit in shade and move into coolers as soon as possible to lengthen the shelf life of the fruit.
- Use forced-air precoolers for best removal of field heat.
- Store at 32 to 34 F and 95 percent relative humidity.
- Freeze excess fruit for jam, juice or wine.
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