Planting Blackberries and Raspberries
Building the Trellis for Trailing Berry Plants:
Plant between December and April. Should the plants arrive before you are ready to set them, store them in a cool place (34 to 40 degrees) and do not allow them to dry out.
Because blackberry and raspberry plants live for many years, the trellis posts should be treated with preservatives and No. 9 gauge wire should be used. Set 6 ½ to 7-foot posts 1 ½ or 2 feet in the ground 10 to 20 feet apart. Use 3 strands of trellis wire, with the 1st strand at the top and the other strands 18 inches apart.
Plants should be placed in sunny spot. “Trailing” type plants should be set 6 – 8 feet apart in 8 – 12 foot width rows. Set the plants 2 inches deeper than grown in the nursery. Plant erect blackberries 3 feet apart in 12-14 foot wide rows. A pH of 6.0 – 6.5 is best for these berries. The hole must be large enough to accommodate all of the plants roots in a natural position.
Training and Pruning Erect Vines:
The year of planting, canes produced by the plants will be semi-erect. Contain these semi-erect canes to the row area and do no prune them. They will provide some fruit the following year. New canes produced the 2nd and succeeding seasons will be erect. They should be cut to a height of 40-42 inches to encourage lateral shoot development. This practice reduces excessive height of the cane and increases the stability of the hedge. Several prunings may be necessary. During the dormant season, the dead canes that provided fruit the previous summer should be pruned out.
Training and Pruning Trailing Vines:
These plants produce biennial canes which grow one season and flower, fruit and die the second season. New canes are produced each season, so fruiting canes are present annually after the year of planting.
First year pruning: Little pruning is necessary for brambles the year they are planted. Place a mulch of pine straw, hay, newspaper or plastic on the ground around the plants in the summer time to help keep moisture in the ground.
Second Year Pruning: After the fruiting season, remove the old canes that are in the process of dying. Tie the new canes of trailing blackberries to the trellis and tip them 6 inches above the top wire to encourage branching. During the following winter, train the canes in a fan pattern away from the crown and place ties where canes cross each wire.
Fertilize berries twice a year in most situations. Trailing blackberries and Dorma Red Raspberries should receive about 2 ounces of 10-10-10 in April and July of the first year. Scatter the fertilizer evenly over a circle 2 feet in diameter centered on the plant. Erect blackberries and raspberries are usually planted closer together, so a banded fertilizer application can be made from the start. The first year apply one pound of 10-10-10- per 18 feet of rows in April and one pound per 36 feet of row in June. For all berries in future years, apply one pound of 10-10-10 per 9 feet of row in early March and one pound on 10-10-10 per 18 feet of row in June in a band 2 feet wide.
The berries are ripe and are at their peak of flavor when they lose their high glossy shine and turn slightly dull. Harvesting is best when the berries are juiciest, during the late morning hours after the dew has dried.
Watering: Water brambles during dry parts of the season. Apply enough water to wet the soil at least 8 to 10 inches below the ground surface. This is particularly important for raspberries.
Brambles will benefit from mulching, which prevents extremes in soil temperatures and helps to conserve moisture.