GROWING GARDEN BLACKBERRY: AGRICULTURAL TECHNIQUE, REPRODUCTION AND CUTTING
In Russian gardens, blackberries are not yet widely distributed. But in many other countries, it has noticeably squeezed raspberries. Why? Blackberries have a special taste, juicy, fragrant and large berries (pay attention to modern varieties!), which ripen at a time when most of the berries have already departed, it is productive, practically does not get sick and is not damaged by pests.
This allows you to do without chemical treatments and grow an environmentally friendly crop.
Blackberries were first introduced into culture in the United States in 1829. Already in the middle of the 1985th century. in the same country, the first varieties of the new culture appeared. For the period from 2007 to 61, XNUMX varieties were obtained. Note that blackberry breeding programs in the US are supported by the government and private investors. The priority direction of breeding was the creation of thornless varieties to replace prickly blackberries, which are inconvenient in care and harvesting. Now most of the cultivated varieties are thornless.
In Russia, the first blackberry varieties were bred by I. V. Michurin in 1904-1905. Among them are Texas (raspberry hybrid) and Abundant, popular to this day. Michurin spoke of the blackberry as "an extremely grateful plant", and about breeding its best varieties as "one of the most profitable business." Alas, to our great regret, the breeding work with blackberries started by I. V. Michurin did not find followers, which is why Russian gardeners have to be content with varieties from abroad that are poorly adapted to local conditions.
CUMANIKA OR ROSEANIK?
Garden blackberry is a semi-shrub with annual and biennial stems. The height of the bushes is from 0 m to 5-3 m. The shoots have a two-year development cycle: in the 7st year, the shoots grow and lay buds, and in the 1nd year, the shoots yield and die.
Blackberries in the middle lane most often begin to bloom in mid-June, in the Moscow region - at the end of June, that is, 25-30 days later than raspberries. Late flowering allows you to get away from spring frosts and from damage by raspberry beetle larvae. The flowering period is extended up to 3 weeks. The fruits ripen in August-September. Blackberries, unlike raspberries, take more time to ripen the fruit: early varieties - about 1 months, late - 5 months or more.
The blackberry fruit is a complex drupe, although it is commonly referred to as a berry. The color is varied - dark purple, black, red or yellow.
Blackberries, like raspberries, have remontant forms.
According to the type of growth, blackberry bushes are divided into two groups: kumanika (with upright shoots) and dewberry (with creeping shoots). There is also a blackberry with an intermediate form of a bush - semi-creeping.
- In the cumanica, replacement shoots grow from the buds on the rhizome, and root suckers grow from the buds on the roots.
– Upright blackberries have rather high (3-4 m) shoots, often with hanging and arched tops.
– The fruits are small (3-4 g).
- In terms of biological characteristics and methods of reproduction, erect blackberries are similar to raspberries.
– Upright blackberries are more winter-hardy than creeping ones.
- With good care, it grows and bears fruit for 12-15 years.
- In dewdrops, only replacement shoots are formed, and root offspring do not grow back.
- Creeping blackberries have long, densely covered with thorns, creeping shoots, which complicates the cultivation of the plant. For this reason, the dewberry is less common in cultivation than the erect blackberry.
- But it is more productive, it has large (weighing 10-12 g or more) tasty berries that ripen earlier than erect forms of blackberries.
HOW TO COVER A BLACKBERRY WITHOUT BREAKING
The advantages of garden blackberries are many, but there is also a disadvantage. Plants are damaged by frosts of 18-27 °, so they need shelter for the winter. In the middle lane, garden blackberries can produce high yields only if the shoots are laid on the ground and the plants are lightly covered for the winter.
For planting blackberries, choose a place well protected from cold winds and warm enough. It is better to plant in the spring, so you can avoid the possible freezing of plants in winter.
In the middle lane, in the Urals and Siberia, annual blackberry shoots can be laid on the ground in October, when they are still flexible. Tie the shoots and tilt them along the rows so that they are no higher than 30 cm above the soil level. Tilt all the stems to one side, then tie the middle part and tops to the bases of other stems. Sometimes gardeners do it differently: they tilt the shoots towards each other and tie them up.
For shelter, you can use foliage, tops, sawdust, greenhouse film. One of the best shelters is a film covered with a thin layer of organic matter on top. According to gardeners, blackberries never rot under cover, unlike grapes.
Creeping varieties are easy to lay on the ground, and in the spring they can be raised on a trellis. But semi-creeping and erect varieties are more difficult to lay, the shoots break easily. To avoid problems with laying in the fall, this should be taken care of in the summer. We offer you to take advantage of the successful experience of summer preparation of replacement shoots for autumn laying, described by a great connoisseur of blackberries and our regular author V. V. Yakimov. It offers a non-lignified replacement shoot in the initial period of growth to bend down and direct to develop parallel to the ground along the row, at a distance of 20-30 cm from the soil surface. This position must be fixed with wire hooks.
When the shoot grows by 40-50 cm, pinch it, after which you will get a branched new shoot, which, under the weight of the branches, will itself lie on the ground. In the autumn it remains only to cover.
In the spring, after the snow melts and before the buds begin to open, untie the bent stems, lift them up and tie them to the trellis.
Blackberries placed on a trellis look very decorative. It looks especially impressive during the period of lush flowering in early summer and fruiting in early autumn, when the living green walls are strewn with shiny black and carmine berries.
PRODUCE BLACKBERRY? EASILY!
One of the most valuable qualities of blackberries is their ease of propagation. Blackberry erect is best propagated by root cuttings. This can be done either in early spring or late autumn. Prepare root segments with a diameter of about 1 cm and a length of 10-15 cm. At the landing site, dig grooves 7-10 cm deep. Lay these cut roots horizontally in them. However, there is a trick. It is better not to propagate thornless varieties in this way, since plants with thorns can grow from cuttings.
Creeping blackberries are usually propagated by rooting the upper part of the shoots. When the tops of the shoots acquire an elongated serpentine shape and are covered with small wrinkled leaves (this usually happens at the end of August), tilt these shoots, giving them an arched shape. Then lay the tops in holes 15-20 cm deep and secure with wooden or metal studs. Fill the holes with a mixture of fertile soil and humus or peat (2: 1) so that the upper part of the shoot 5-10 cm long remains on the surface.
After 3-4 weeks, on the part of the stem that is in the soil, roots are formed, as well as small shoots. Sprinkle them for the winter with fallen leaves, sawdust or peat for the purpose of warming. In April of the next year, separate the rooted cuttings from the mother bush and transplant them to a permanent place or to a growing school.
5 STAGES OF AGRICULTURAL BLACKBERRY
1. Blackberries do well in medium loamy, loose, breathable soils with a pH of 5-5. The occurrence of groundwater should be no closer than 6 m from the soil surface. Waterlogging blackberries do not tolerate.
2. Most blackberry varieties do not have root shoots, and this greatly facilitates the care of this beautiful berry shrub.
3. Blackberries have a deeper root system than raspberries, making blackberries more drought tolerant than raspberries.
4. If, when planting blackberries in a permanent place, you filled the planting hole well, then you will not need top dressing in the next 2-3 years. You can apply nitrogen fertilizers (10-15 g of urea or 20-25 g of ammonium nitrate per 1 sq. M). Such top dressing will contribute to the good growth of young plants.
After 3 years, top dressing should become annual. If the soil in your area is of medium fertility, apply 6-8 kg of humus or compost, 90-100 g of superphosphate and 25-30 g of potash fertilizer for autumn digging for one fruit-bearing bush. If the soil is of high fertility, these dosages can be reduced, and on poor soils, on the contrary, increased.
5. Blackberries are very responsive to mulching. If you use manure, humus, compost, peat as mulch, then pour a layer 5-6 cm thick. In the fall, apply mineral fertilizers on top of this mulching material, and dig the soil, together with mulch and fertilizers, with garden pitchforks to a depth of 8-10 cm.
In the spring, apply nitrogen fertilizer (for example, 50-60 g of ammonium nitrate per bush), and after loosening, lay a new layer of mulching material.
If you take sawdust or straw as mulch, which tend to absorb nitrogen and reduce its amount for plants, then you will have to increase the application rate of nitrogen fertilizers to 60-70 g of ammonium nitrate per bush.
Reference by topic: Growing blackberries - feeding and construction of trellises (Moscow region)
CUTTING AND SHAPING BLACKBERRY
Prune and shape blackberries annually. In May, cut out all broken and diseased stems near the surface of the soil. When shoots and replacement shoots begin to appear, remove the extra ones. The extra ones are those that thicken the bush, prevent other, most powerful and healthy shoots from growing, rub against them, damaging the bark.
For upright blackberries, you can use double pruning. Here's how it's done. First, you carry out the first pruning, or rather, pinching a young growing shoot and do this in May. At a stem 1-1 m high, cut off the upper part by 2-10 cm. After such pruning, 15-4 or more lateral buds awaken in the axils of the leaves. When the buds open, carry out a second pruning, in which the tops of the lateral growths are shortened to 6 cm. This double pruning allows you to increase the productivity of each stem, respectively, the yield will be higher.
When you have harvested, it is better to cut the old off-fruiting shoots near the surface of the soil, leaving no stumps. Burn the cut shoots.
At the same time, thin out the bush, leaving the number of shoots with a margin (1-2 more than necessary) in case they freeze or break. In the spring, during the final thinning, in varieties with erect stems, leave 4-6 shoots per bush, with creeping ones - 5-8 per bush.
Traditionally, blackberries are grown on a trellis up to 2 m high. Take a wire with a cross section of 3-4 mm, stretch it at 3 levels: at a height of 50 cm, 100 cm and 150 cm.
The layout of creeping blackberries is linked to varietal characteristics and shaping methods. With fan formation, leave the distance between plants 2-5 m, and between rows - at least 3-5 m.
In each planting hole with a diameter of 40 cm, add 5-6 kg of rotted manure or compost, 100-150 g of superphosphate and 40-50 g of potash fertilizer. If the stems of the seedlings are healthy, then cut them off at a height of 20 cm above the ground. If you find traces of disease or insect damage on the stems, cut these shoots at the very surface of the soil and then burn them.
Mulch the soil around the planted plants with peat, compost, sawdust with a layer of 4-5 cm.
The fan method of forming a bush of upright and creeping blackberries involves the separate placement of fruiting and young growing stems. With this method, in the first season after planting, tie the young shoots that have appeared to the trellis obliquely in one direction. The following year, these shoots will be fruitful. Tie new shoots appearing next year in the opposite direction to that of the previous year. This will separate fruiting shoots and young growing stems.
How to fix the shoots on the trellis? For varieties of dewberry, which has long stems, shaping by weaving is best. To do this, in the spring, lift the blackberry stalks left for fruiting to the top wire, wrap around it once or twice and lower it to the middle wire. Then lift the stems again to the upper wire, and to the lower, slightly curling, tie up the young shoots of the first year of life.
In order for blackberry plantings to be healthy, try to isolate them from raspberry plantings, which can be a source of diseases and pests.
BEST GARDEN BLACKBERRY VARIETIES
In amateur gardens, both old and modern varieties of blackberries are found. Of these, the most common varieties are erect blackberries - Agavam, Ufimskaya local, Darrow, Lawton, Erie, and creeping - Izobilnaya, Lucretia, Thornless Evergreen. Semi-creeping varieties are also popular: Thornfree, Black Satin, Smutetem. Gardeners are also actively interested in raspberry-blackberry hybrids (they have very tasty fruits): Boysenberry, Loganberry, Youngberry, Lincoln Logan, Tommel-berry, etc.
And now a few words about the most modern and interesting varieties that can be recommended for planting.
In the middle lane and northern regions, it is better to plant early varieties. For example, the super-early Karaka Black variety (matures 5 weeks earlier than Thornfree). The fruits are fragrant, but may be sour. Sweeter berries in early varieties Natchez and Loch Tay (ripe before Thornfree by 3 weeks). Noteworthy are the sweet varieties of medium ripening Polar, Arapaho, Asterina (2 weeks ahead of Thornfree) and sweet and sour Thornless, Guy, Smutstem, Black Satin (berries ripen 1 - 1 weeks earlier than Thornfree).
At the same time as Thornfree, the sweet varieties of Triple Crown, Loch Ness, Navajo, and Chester ripen. If you live in the southern region, then you can safely plant later varieties. For example, remontant late varieties Prime Arc 45, Ruben will produce berries at the very end of the season. All of these varieties that we mentioned have black large berries. The largest are Natchez (10-20 g), Prime Arc 45. A little smaller are Polar, Asterin, Karaka Black, Chester, Thornless, Smutstem, Triple Crown, Ruben.
Some of these varieties also have fruits of the original form. For example, an elongated long berry in the varieties Karaka Black, Natchez, Prime Arc 45. Round fruits in the varieties Chester, Asterina, Thornless, Polar, Triple Crown.
In short, there are plenty to choose from. And blackberries can become the real queen of your garden.
We also recommend reading: Loch Ness blackberry bushless - planting and care, my reviews
OVERVIEW OF THORNEESS BLACKBERRY VARIETIES - VIDEO
© Author: E. VETRYAKOVA, gardener Moscow region
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