Blackberry & Raspberry Seasonal Checklist (Winter 2011)

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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.

Erect types

  • 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).

Trailing types

  • 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.

Weed control

  • 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


  • 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.

Nutrient management


  • 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.

Water management

  • 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.

Written By

Photo of Dr. Gina FernandezDr. Gina FernandezExtension Specialist (Small Fruits) (919) 513-7416 gina_fernandez@ncsu.eduHorticultural Science - NC State University
Updated on Mar 12, 2015
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