Plant growth and development
- Plant is not visibly growing during the winter months, although many blackberries will retain their leaves through the winter.
- Some differentiation is occurring in the flower buds.
- Low-chilling cultivars can break bud in January after adequate winter chilling. You can monitor chilling hours accumulated in eight states in the Eastern U.S. by accessing this site: http://www.nc-climate.ncsu.edu/cronos/blackberry/index.php
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 8-12”.
- Thin canes to 6-8 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 12-18”.
- Thin canes to 6-8 canes/hill (6-8 ft. spacing).
Primocane fruiting raspberries and blackberries
- Prune (mow) primocane fruiting types to ground level
- Many summer weed problems can be best managed in the winter using preemergent herbicides. Determine what weeds have been or could be a problem in your area. Check with your state’s agricultural chemical manual and local Extension agent for the best labeled chemicals to control these weeds.
- Make repairs to irrigation system (check pumps, lines, etc.).
- Plants generally do not need supplemental water in winter.
Insect and disease scouting
Check the Southeast Regional Brambles Integrated Management Guide for recommendations.
- To learn more about the spotted wing drosophila and how it may impact your fruit in 2013, check out Hannah Burrack’s blog. She has lots of links in addition to her blog posts.
- Scout fields for insect and disease damage and remove those canes.
- Remove wild blackberries and raspberries by the roots if they are within 600 ft. of your planting during the winter or treat with glyphosphate in the fall.
- Apply liquid lime sulphur or Bordeaux for disease control before new buds are 1/8”
- Take soil tests to determine fertility needs for spring plantings.
- There are some new raspberry and blackberry cultivars available in 2013. If you have not tried them or aren’t sure how they will do in your region, it is best to order a small quantity to see how well they will perform in your area.
- For larger growers, prepare a list of cultivars for 2014 plantings and order now. Smaller quantities of plants can be ordered in early 2013 for spring 2013 planting.
- Find lists of commercial small fruit nurseries at www.fruit.cornell.edu/berry/nurseries/index.html.
Marketing and Miscellaneous
- Order containers for next season.
- Make contacts for selling fruit next season.
Make plans to attend grower meetings! View the Trainings & Events section.
NOTE: N.C. Cooperative Extension will be taking over the Blackberry and Raspberry Information Portal in early 2013. The site will have essentially the same material, but a new look. Links will be provided from the old site to the new site.