Blackberry Culture

comments (0) February 11th, 2009

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Click To Enlarge Photo: Pam Spaulding

by John R. Clark
June 1999
from issue #21

So you're interested in growing blackberries? Blackberries need full sun for at least six hours a day and well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. A single variety can be grown, and pollinators are not required. All are self-fruiting.

Set out bare-root plants in late winter, before soil warms but after the coldest temperatures are over. Potted plants can go out when they’re available in the nurseries. In moderate climates, plant blackberries in fall and early winter. Set plants 2 to 3 feet apart in the row. Space multiple rows at least 6 feet apart so you can mow.

Don’t fertilize at planting. Once new growth appears, give each plant 3 ounces of complete fertilizer (such as 13-13-13) applied in an 18-inch-wide band around the plant. During the first year only, apply 1 ounce of ammonium nitrate per plant in midsummer. Thereafter, fertilize established plants just once a year, in spring, when buds begin to break on floricanes, using 1/2 pound of complete fertilizer per 10 feet of row. Organic fertilizers that provide adequate nitrogen and potassium will also work well.

Weed control and adequate soil moisture are critical during the first year. For weeds, use a combination of mulch and hand weeding. In dry weather, water weekly. Blackberries are drought tolerant but watering during fruit development and ripening enhances yield and quality.

Pests are seldom an issue. In some locations, orange rust may be a problem on ‘Navaho’. There’s no approved treatment, so affected plants should be destroyed.


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