Blackberry in the fall: how to prune and prepare for winter

Blackberries are a new culture for our gardens, and many landowners simply do not know how to handle it. They are afraid to do something wrong, let it go by itself, hoping that nature will take its course without human intervention. And she takes it. As a result, the blackberry feels great, forming a huge prickly ball, and the owner of the site is content with a handful of small berries that were collected from the edge.

Blackberry Plant Description

Any work needs to be started, understanding what exactly we want to do and what result is needed. In relation to a plant, we first need to understand how it grows, in which areas it bears fruit, how it reproduces, and much more. All this is called plant physiology.

Blackberry is a shrub with two-year-old shoots. In the first year, the lashes grow back, store nutrients. In the summer of the second year, thin annual branches grow on which fruiting occurs. After fruiting, these branches die off. The shoots of the second year differ from young lashes with a yellowish or reddish bark, as well as the presence of berry brushes.

On the blackberry shoot of the second year there are berries, its bark is yellowish or reddish

With a two-year fruiting cycle, blackberries look like raspberries. The main difference is the length of the lashes. If you do not trim the blackberry, they can reach 4–6 m in length, and individual varieties up to 10 m. That is why the blackberry must be cut. This work is usually carried out in the fall, although spring pruning is also practiced. In spring, blackberries are cut off before the buds swell, in the fall, after fruiting in September, but before the end of the growing cycle, i.e. no later than the end of October.

Historically, blackberries were divided into two types - mildew and cumanica. Crops included varieties with thin creeping shoots that tend to fall to the ground and take root. Cumaniki called erect plants with strong thick stems, multiplying by shoots from the root, like raspberries.

As it turned out, these two subspecies perfectly interbreed. As a result, intermediate forms arose that are difficult to attribute only to mildews or cumaniks - erect and creeping (curly).

Upright varieties have thicker and stronger stems, can multiply by shoots, tops, or both.

Blackberry variety Natchez refers to upright

Curly (creeping) varieties need additional support, since their branches are thin and weak.

Blackberry variety Karak Black refers to curly

Trimming and caring for them are slightly different.

Preparing a blackberry for winter

Autumn works depend both on the climatic zone in which the site is located and on the characteristics of the variety. But some points are always required.

Autumn pruning of erect varieties

The first task in preparing the blackberry for winter is the removal of old, prolific shoots. It is advisable to do this immediately after the harvest, then the young lashes will receive more sunlight, store nutrients well and prepare for winter. However, you can trim a blackberry right up to cover the plants for the winter. Old whips should not be left until spring, since they will interfere with the normal movement of air, as a result, mold appears inside the bush, rot, the bush may die or weaken from wintering.

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  1. Old biennial shoots are cut with pruners as close to the ground as possible, without hemp. The slice should be smooth, not split.

    Two-year-old blackberry shoots are cut with a pruner as close to the ground as possible without leaving a hemp

  2. After that, weak annual branches are removed. They only thicken the bush, not giving a full crop.
  3. Make additional thinning if the bush is still very dense. It is optimal to leave 8–10 lashes at a distance of 15–20 cm. This amount also includes a “strategic reserve” in case some of the shoots freeze out.
  4. Then the blackberry is covered for the winter.
  5. In the spring, after removing the shelter, 6–8 well-overwintered shoots are left, removing dried, frozen or broken shoots.

Video: pruning erect blackberries in the fall

Loosening, fertilizing and watering

After autumn pruning, the bush needs to be prepared for winter shelter.

  1. Under the bush, spread the rate of phosphorus or phosphorus-potassium fertilizer (about 20 g per 1 m2), the soil is gently loosened.
  2. If autumn is sunny, without rain, water-loading irrigation is carried out (in order for the soil to maintain high humidity, the root system grows, the plant was not weakened by winter). To prevent water from spreading over the bed, a border is made from the ground around the bushes (it is important not to damage the roots of the plants) and a minimum of 20 liters is poured onto one blackberry bush.
  3. After that, annual lashes are fixed on the ground or low trellis (20–25 cm), so that later it is easier to shelter them for the winter. If you do this later, lignified shoots will break at the bend.
  4. Immediately before the frosts, the litter is raked from the beds (pests and disease spores hibernate under it), the beds are mulched with grassy section, old straw (without seeds, they attract rodents) or dry humus.

Shelter for the winter

The need for such shelter depends on the climate and blackberry variety. In the south, some varieties of local or northern origin winter without shelter. You can additionally throw snow on the bush from the tracks. Shelter may be needed by studless Polish varieties - they are very coddled by breeding, although they are convenient to grow and productive. In the north, varietal blackberries always require shelter.

The most reliable is considered an air-dry shelter.

  1. The fixed whips are removed, laid on mulch, they must be placed in the middle of the bush with rodent seed.
  2. Then cover them with a sheet of breathable non-woven material with a density of at least 60 / m2 (spunbond, lutrasil).
  3. The edges of the nonwoven material are pressed with long sticks or instilled. It is impossible to fix pointwise, such material will tear from the wind or heavy snow.
  4. After that, arcs are installed from above (for example, from willow or hazel) or thin branches are thrown (lapnik, cane). The point is to form a layer of air, which will serve as insulation. The stronger the frosts - the thicker this layer should be. The entire structure is again covered with non-woven material. If the lashes do not touch the cold street air, then additional shelter with snow is not necessary. He will only make the material heavier. In places of breaks in the winter, snow is poured as insulation.

Lapnik for sheltering a blackberry bush does not need too much - you can break the bush

Autumn pruning curly blackberry

The curls of the curly blackberry are weak, brittle and thin. Therefore, it is grown on trellises. The main thing to remember when working with this type of blackberry is that it tends to land, where it takes root very quickly. Therefore, if replacement shoots are needed, the lashes are tilted and pinned.

On the branch of a blackberry pinned to the ground, new shoots of substitution form

If the bush is thickened, on the contrary, they are fixed higher and shortened to enlarge the berries (in the climbing varieties they are smaller than in the erect). When autumn pruning, up to 15 annual lashes are left, in the spring - up to 10, since they are thinner than upright varieties.

After removing the offspring, the curly blackberry bushes are loosened, fed and watered in the same way as the other varieties.

Video: pruning creeping blackberry

Ways to shelter a creeping blackberry for the winter

There are two ways to shelter bushes of creeping blackberry before winter:

  • removing the branches from the trellis,
  • covering with trellis.

If the bush is well trimmed, apply the first method.

  1. The branches are removed from the trellis and folded into a circle, like a garden hose folded.

    Blackberry branches carefully fold into a circle, trying not to damage

  2. They put rolled shoots on a board or straw, process copper sulphate from diseases and pests.
  3. Then sprinkle with a thick layer of mulch.

If there are too many shoots, they are tangled and broken, they cover the bush with trellis.

  1. The trellis is removed from the ground and laid on the ground with the plant.
  2. The shoots are also treated with copper sulfate from pests and covered with mulch (straw, dry tops, mowed and dried grass, dry leaves).

    Shoots with trellis sprinkled with a thick layer of mulch

Shelter only with mulch is suitable for the southern regions of Russia. For the northern regions, blackberry bushes are additionally covered with a dense (not less than 60 g / m2) non-woven material.

In general, blackberries are a persistent and responsive culture that can grow even in the northern regions of Russia. Caring for it does not require special training or material costs - just attention and focus, like any other plant.

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