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darrow blackberry

Posted by cablestarman NE OH 6a (cablestarman@gmail.com) on
Tue, Jul 2, 13 at 23:17

I think this is my third year since I planted 2 darrow blackberry plants. They produced fruit the 2nd year, but I either think the berries shriveled up or the canes died. They have produced a lot of fruit this year but I am afraid the same thing might happen this year. The plants look very healthy and prolific. For pruning, I have been tipping the new canes in the summer down about a foot and cut off the dead wood in late fall. Would I be better off just cutting them all down and only have 1 crop? What are your opinions on this? I can post pictures of the plants if that would help.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: darrow blackberry

Did you suffer from insane heat and drought in Ohio last summer like we did in Missouri? All our blackberry plants did that last year in response to the drought. I'm guessing your's did the same thing. They should be fine this year since it's been much cooler and wetter.


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RE: darrow blackberry

Yes, driest summer I can remember and hottest. I watered all my blackberry and raspberry bushes heavily last year about every 10 days. I also have some Navajo, Arapaho,and Triple Crown blackberries. And some black raspberries, yellow raspberries, and Latham raspberries. They all did decent last year except for the Darrow.


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RE: darrow blackberry

Every 10 days holy cow. If i watered mine every 10 days in that heat they would darn near be toast. In that heat id need to water every other day assuming they are mulched. every day if not.


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RE: darrow blackberry

I have them heavily mulched with straw about 5 inches. I think watering everyday is excessive unless you live the desert. I was happy with the crop I had last year, wasn't as good as 2011 though. I find them not to need that much water as most other plants. Maybe it was once a week that I watered and gave them about 2 inches when I did. Does it effect the flavor of the berries when you water that much?


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RE: darrow blackberry

Growth is what I noticed was the difference. Watering should be cut back during fruit ripemning as the berries will be sweeter. with 5 inches of mulch your watering needs wouldnt be as high. Mine are in full sun for 12 hours straight and when they dry out the growth becomes stunted or negligible. Of course my watering is done by drip system so the amounts being delivered are definitely not 2 inches at a time :)


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RE: darrow blackberry

Yes, I'm still old school - I still use a sprinkler to water the berries and hand water most of my vegetables. I have a ton of soaker hoses though, just have never used them. I think I may start, it is so time consuming and a pain. Do you have any advice or good source of information on pruning your berries in terms of tipping them in the summer and cutting back laterals? And I mean thornless blackberries and black raspberries. I get so much differing information from what I have read in books and on the internet. I'm trying to get more fruit production, but I can't see cutting back the primocanes to only 3 feet, my plants are about 7 feet tall.


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RE: darrow blackberry

I usually tip mine around the end of July. I usually tip them around 6-7 feet for the trailing varieties. They can easily get to 12 ft without tipping anything more than that and the laterals will get too long. You dont want your laterals more than about 12-18 inches long. I have a Dual 3 wire trellis system.


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RE: darrow blackberry

Longer laterals = more production. Another way to increase production is to have closer-spaced main canes with shorter laterals. Either way, it boils down to total linear feet of cane + laterals. There potentially will be a fruiting stem for every leaf node on a cane + laterals.

Wet ripe berries via overhead sprinkling usually = mold, although the farmers out here used to water via post-mounted sprinklers (and the riper berries got moldy). Wet berries on a hot day that dry off before overnight may do better moldwise.


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RE: darrow blackberry

How does this apply to the thornless blackberries I have: Navajo and Arapaho? I know those are erect blackberries. And I just realized the Triple Crown is a semi-erect variety. How would pruning differ between the erect vs. semi-erect? Would pruning the primocanes to 46 inches now and the laterals in late winter to 18 inches give beteer production - 46 inches just seems so short to me. But if it works. What varieties do you grow?


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RE: darrow blackberry

I grow just the trailing and semi-erect varieties. The upright Arapaho and Navajo I have no experience with. If they form long laterals after tip-pruning, the above advice would apply.

Short lateral advice for some varieties is very widespread. Perhaps it is better for commercial operations rather than home gardeners. Perhaps the laterals on erect varieties taper off in diameter quickly and are not productive past that point.

Triple Crown forms laterals that can grow 20 feet long without significant diameter tapering and will form full clusters of berries next year clear to the end of the lateral, no matter what the length. Berry size and density remain the same.

If your erect varieties will form laterals at greater cane height and your trellis or fence will support that, then you can get more production. However you can coax your plants to form the greatest number of primocane/lateral leaf nodes is the way to go.


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RE: darrow blackberry

Correct me if I am wrong, It does not mater at what height I tip the primocanes lets say 6 feet - instead of the suggested 46 inches and prune the laterals to 12 inches in late winter. Or this may not apply to the erect varieties, so maybe I should experiment. What height do you tip your Triple Crown @. I tipped them last year @ 6 feet - they are way more productive than the erect ones and the fruit is always sweet when I harvest, compared to the erect varieties. Most of them are either sour or overly ripe - just seems hard to catch them at the right time.


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RE: darrow blackberry

Is there such a thing as overly ripe?! :)


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RE: darrow blackberry

I tip the triple crown at 5 to 7 feet, depending on where the little lateral buds are showing on the cane--down low or higher up. The problem with going much over 5 feet is that TC laterals continue to head up often at a 45-degree angle, and then you need to pick from a ladder next year.
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As for overly ripe, a real blackberry fan will tolerate a wider range of ripeness than the average person. I will occasionally eat a berry with a "hint" of mold.


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RE: darrow blackberry

FYI on the erect ones. you have to tip the upright cane at around 42-50 inches. anything longer than that and the amount of berries will push the erect cane into the dirt. I have one erect Prime Arc right now that is around 50 inches and its bowed at a 45 degree angle with the weight of the berries. they are kind of like blueberries, the canes have to be able to support the berry weight. Course you could support them, but that kind of defeats the purpose of an erect berry that doesn't need a trells :)

All opinions expressed in this piece are for informational purposes only and may or may not help you in the growing of your berries.


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RE: darrow blackberry

I guess I'm not a real blackberry fan then :), I'm not that picky, if they are unripened or overly ripe I still eat them. I either make a blackberry pie or crisp and ferment them if they are underripe and sometimes I add them to plain yogurt or make wine. The TCs are always delicious to me (and more productive), I should have planted all TCs instead of the Navajo and Arapaho.

ABz5b
I actually planted all the blackberries- both erect and TCs along my cyclone fence and have been using foam coated wire for the erect ones. I know that defeats the purpose just planted them there because of space. Since I have them supported, does that mean I could tip them higher? Of course, I tipped them at about 7 foot last year, barely any laterals though.


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RE: darrow blackberry

You can just tip the end of the cane with your fingers and it will encourage lateral growth as the plant will release a chemical in response to you "cutting" off the tip of the plant. I just tipped some of my Prime-Arcs/Chesters to encourage lateral growth. I literally, from all the laterals on my Chesters will get something like 50-100 lbs of berries off my little 40 foot row. I'm not super into doing everything on schedule or exactly as planned, I've just learned a few general guidelines of what works and what doesn't over the last 10 years playing around with all the berry plants.

Tipped my erect Prime arc at 48-50 inches any longer than that and it doesnt give the plant in my zone time to form the laterals. I notice your in a 6a so you are in a comparable zone to my own. I'd start tipping now depending on height of the canes. TC's I'm with Larrygene. 5-7 ft. I have a 3 row trellis though which i keep a fair amount of laterals down low for the kiddos so they can pick without having to go too high.

This post was edited by ABz5b on Wed, Jul 10, 13 at 0:04


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RE: darrow blackberry

So going to make some wine this year. may add some boysenberry to it as i love the sour sweet flavor of these. Hopefully the wine turns out as good as i think it will :)


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RE: darrow blackberry

larry_gene and ABz5b

Thank you both for sharing your wisdom with me, you both have been so helpful.

I just tipped the Navajo and the Arapaho @ 50 inches. The primocanes were between 6-7 feet. I'm embarrassed to say I don't know which is which. So I cut off about 3 feet - I hope it is too late or if I should have tipped them as soon as they reached 50 inches. I know its drastic, but they don't seem to be producing many laterals when I tipped them @ 7 foot even with support. I just tipped the TCs @ 6 feet, I just planted the cuttings in pots. The forecast calls for 6 days with no rain, garden really needs to dry out.


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