BLACKBERRY VARIETIES FOR MIDDLE STRIP
Today, blackberries can often be seen in the markets of southern Russia and the southern regions of the Non-Chernozem region. The use of vine shelters allowed gardeners in these regions to see the incomparable large-fruited, huge yield of bushes and appreciate the unforgettable taste of ripe berries.
In some summer residents, blackberries grow much further north, but are not widespread. Apparently, there are circumstances that prevent culture from moving to the northern regions.
Obviously, the main reason is still not frost resistance, because the average daily temperature in the north and south of the middle band differs slightly. But the absolute minimum temperature in the winter can guarantee the destruction of bushes, regardless of the breadth of cultivation.
The first non-ship industrial blackberry varieties that came to Russian gardens were bred back in the 60s. Varieties Thornfrey, Black Satin, Sootstem they completely yield crops in the southern regions, and in the north, the huge berry brushes of the plant often remain evergreen or manage to give out only individual berries. Varieties, once obtained in the conditions of a long and hot summer in Maryland (USA), sometimes lack the length of the warm period during the Russian summer. This is invisible to gardens south of 53 ° N, but obvious to gardens north of this parallel.
Therefore, for many regions of Russia it is more advisable to grow varieties created in less comfortable conditions in Northern and Central Europe. In this group, varieties with an early onset of fruiting and a friendly yield (to meet the deadlines for a relatively short summer).
An English variety of blackberries Loch Tau, obtained in the conditions of a cool Scottish summer, turned out to be such a variety that has long established itself in gardens. The varieties obtained beyond the Carpathians, in the valley of the Dunajec River, in the Polish part of Galicia, were also interesting. There, at the Brzezna breeding center, Dr. J. Danek attracted local forms of the Carpathian blackberry to the selection and received the unmarked large-fruited varieties PolarnGaj. They turned out to be very close in fruiting to the Loch Tau variety, but have a larger berry. This successful work was continued, and in 2012, breeders J. Danek and A. Orzel bred the unmarked blackberry varieties Brzezina and Ruczaj.
I spoke with A. Orzel at a conference in Minsk in the summer of 2014 and was informed about this work. The Blackberry variety Brzezina was characterized by the authors as an early ripening variety, but the first true fruiting in our garden took place in the medium term. The berry was of good taste, but smaller than the varieties Gaj and Polar. Therefore, despite the original taste of the berry, I did not immediately understand what treasure fell into our collection.
Fruiting in the summer of 2019 was a real discovery. Blackberry Brzezina not only overtook the Loch Tau variety at the beginning of the ripening period of the berry, it turned out to be several times more fruitful than it. A rare variety can boast so many berries. This is facilitated by the best preservation of the vine after winter (resistance to frost and fungal diseases) and a huge number of live fruit buds on it. With their rancid arrangement (short internodes), the vine simply impresses with the multitude and density of the arrangement of branched fruit brushes.
Brzezina It turned out to be the first in terms of the beginning of the return of the berry among the varieties (without raspberry genes) of the usual 2-year fruiting cycle. In the race for the start of recoil, the highest step of the podium went to the Brzezina variety, second place shared Loch Tau and Natchezthird occupied Polar and Gaj. The difference between the two adjacent steps is only a few days, and it seems that this is not very important.
Practice shows that this seems insignificant at the start of fruiting, but it is always important at the finish of the harvest. The days of lag at the beginning of the harvest are very difficult to catch up at the end of their harvest. In the second half of the summer period, the periods between berry harvests begin to stretch due to a drop in temperature in the daytime and especially at night. And the cooler the days and nights become, the less sugar in the berry and the longer the intervals between collections.
If at the beginning of harvesting the berries are harvested every 1-2 days, then at the end of the summer period the intervals between harvests can be extended up to 5 days, and this will continue until the frosts beat the berry that did not have time to ripen. Therefore, it is important to collect the entire crop or most of it in the early stages. In this regard, the deadline for the start of fees and the length of the recoil period of the berries, which are individual for each variety, are of particular importance. For example, Loch Tau can give the berry in 3 weeks at optimal temperatures, and Natchez, which starts at the same time.
necessary for full return for 7 weeks. Therefore, Loch Tau and Brzezina at the latitude of Moscow and Kazan can give the whole crop in the open field, and part of the Natchez crop can ripen to the very frosts and even fall under them (depending on the weather of the season and the local climate and microclimate).
Both Natchez, Loch Tau, and Brzezina produce sweet berries, but Natchez is 2-3 times larger than the rest, and super-large berries always have competitive advantages on the market. Therefore, super-large berries Polar and Natchez and large berries of the variety Gaj are always in demand.
The unexpected surprise of the 2019 season was the maintenance grade Prime Ark Freedom. Moreover, it turned out to be interesting not as a late repairing cultivar (as one might expect), but as a super-early cultivar of an ordinary 2-year cycle (with sheltering vines and fruiting replacement shoots for the 2nd year). The fact is that in our conditions, only individual fruit buds begin to bloom on the shoots of replacing the current season (not more than 5% of the total number). They form fruit clusters, but only individual berries have time to ripen in the autumn, although in the historical homeland of this variety, in the state of Arkansas (USA), bushes yield both autumn (on replanting shoots) and summer (on wintering shoots of last year) crops.
In our conditions, the autumn harvest does not work, but the very early summer harvest on the overwintered shoots of last year turned out to be good news. Variety Prime Ark Freedom blooms in spring (on the shoots of last year) at an earlier date (in comparison with other varieties) and begins to give ripe berries, significantly ahead of the early varieties mentioned and recommended for cultivation. In this grade, everything became a sensation! This is the earliest beginning of berry ripening in summer, superearly yield (all the berries were harvested long before the fruiting of other early varieties), wonderful sweet taste, extraordinary large-fruited (individual berries were even larger than the largest Natchez berries).
We can say that in the family of early varieties for the middle band arrived, and the variety has no shortcomings. It is likely that in the south of the country the blackberry of this variety behaves in a completely different way, because it is forced to divide the crop into 2 seasons due to the long warm period. Instead of the autumn harvest, we have an early spring start of the vegetation. If, in our conditions, plants were forced to spend energy on returning the autumn harvest, then this would inevitably affect the overwintering of fruit-bearing shoots, because the biochemical processes during fruiting and in preparing the plant for winter are different.
Blackberries of late fruiting varieties, caught by real frosts during the fruiting period, cannot pass the hardening period and prepare for winter. Therefore, the use of repair varieties in the production has very subtle nuances associated with the local climate and microclimate.
Depending on the length of the growing season and the temperature typical for the area, the variety behaves in completely different ways. We found for ourselves a superearless bearingless variety, which in the conditions of the south of Russia is probably super-late (on the shoots of the current year) and only partially summer with not too early summer crops (on last year's shoots).
The phenomenon of super-early fruiting of repairing varieties on the vine of last year in a relatively short summer is unique, but not universal (the timing is tied to local conditions).
We have long been working on the subject of an early summer harvest on last year's shoots with the Prime Ark 45 repair grade, also originating from Arkansas. In Samara, this variety was laid out precisely on the autumn harvest, on the shoots of the current year. That is, the plants managed to bloom and plant a huge number of berry clusters with a very large berry (about the same size as the Natchez variety), but they managed to give only a small part of the autumn harvest. Almost the entire berry crop left in September-October and fell under frosts.
No more than 10% of the berries were harvested, and attempts to cover the vine in late autumn and preserve it until the next year yielded no results. The vine, not prepared for winter due to fruiting, froze severely. We decided to transfer the plantings of blackberries of this variety to the area where snow melting and ripening of blackberries of other varieties began in the summer 2 weeks later, and got completely different results.
Planting with 2-year-old seedlings gave us well-developed repair shoots by autumn, some of which tried to bloom, but the bulk of the flower buds still did not bloom (apparently, they did not have enough time to develop). We hid the bushes for the winter and got a summer early start of fruiting on the shoots of last year. There were a lot of berries on them, but the period of return was longer than expected. The fact is that in the second half of summer, new repair shoots also began to bloom in parallel with early fruiting on last year's shoots. This greatly delayed the return of the early harvest and fruiting of the bushes. We started with the berry picking in the early stages, then the return smoothly switched to the berry picking in parallel with the varieties of medium-term fruiting, and then with the late varieties.
This phenomenon does not occur in the Prime Ark Freedom repair cultivar in our conditions due to the later fruiting period of the repair shoots, which produce almost nothing in the fall. That is, we still have to work on the optimal technology for harvesting in the time frame that interests us on Prime Ark 45. The variety is interesting for large berries and an abundance of fruiting.
There are many options for testing and selecting agricultural machinery:
a) removal of new repairing shoots in order to stimulate the shoots of the last year, which are more compressed in terms of time and early delivery. The system assumes plantations not every year, but after a year (super-early harvest);
b) the use of tunnels for the ripening of crops on maintenance shoots (early extended fruiting on last year's shoots and autumn harvest on new shoots);
c) the use of tunnels and the stimulation of earlier ripening of the late harvest on the repairing shoots by pinching the repairing shoots during their growth (the use of the variety annually only for late repairing fruiting, followed by cutting off the prolific shoots in winter).
1. For guaranteed ripening of blackberries in areas north of 53 ° N it is necessary to choose the right varieties (use mainly early and super early). Also, to obtain a very early harvest, you can use the Prime Ark Freedom repairing variety in an ordinary 2-year cycle (with shelter for the shoots of the current year for the winter).
2. To use other repairmen in a 2-year cycle in order to obtain an early harvest, it is necessary to test them for fruiting in these specific conditions.
H. In the northernmost regions, it is necessary to apply the construction of sheltered soil in order to increase the sum of active temperatures. Some gardeners have already tested this experience.
BLACKBERRY BLACKBERRY - VIDEO
© Author: V. YAKIMOV, an experienced gardener in Samara
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