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Hired Hand
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My property seems to be well suited for growing brambles such as blackberries and raspberries. The fields and hedgerows are filled with wild canes so thick that even the rabbits have a hard time navigating the patches.

I transplanted a dozen sets of raspberries and a similar number of blackberry canes a few years ago to get my feet wet. The blackberries have taken to the cultivation and flourished despite their wild nature. The dozen sets of canes produced over 20 quarts of near perfect, thumb sized berries this year with perhaps a dozen more odd shaped quarts of berries left for the birds. Retail around here last summer was $4+/pint for blackberries. Thinking even at half that, $2/pint, I had roughly $80 in fruit from a dozen sets of canes. Not bad for only a few hours of labor over the course of a year. As an aside, the pruned canes are woody enough to make nice kindling for the woodstove if you are mindful of the thorns. The homestead spirit…nothing goes to waste.

The raspberries didn’t fair as well. They were planted too close to the blackberries whose roots are very aggressive. Blackberry suckers came up through the raspberry canes, then took control. Lessons learned. I’ll start some raspberry canes in a separate patch next year.

I plan to rework a larger area next year for blackberries. Seems like a good idea for a bunch of reasons:
- they are easy to grow, requiring little effort except for pruning in the fall
- the local furry critters seem to leave the canes and the fruit alone so I won’t need fencing unlike the machine gun turrets and concertina wire needed for the vegetable garden
- bees are attracted to the fruit which could mean better pollination of other crops in the garden
- we love blackberry jam, blackberry & corn muffins, just about anything with blackberries

The hope is to cultivate enough canes over time to generate a small profit selling both berries and canes at a roadside stand. No plans to retire to Maui on the money…just a few extra bucks to supplement my poultry & livestock addictions…thinking I’m not the only one here with that monkey on my back.

The wild canes seem reasonably resistant to dry spells, too much rain, and disease…and the fruit is nice and sweet. Any-old-who, does anyone else grow brambles on a larger than backyard scale? Any advice as I move forward such as potential pitfalls or things to consider? I’m getting pretty good at harvesting without getting caught or jabbed by the thorns. Funny how the biggest, sweetest berries are always the hardest to reach. The biggest investment will be in time / work to clear a decent sized patch and waiting a year or two for the canes to establish.
 

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I got raspberries galore out in the wild. We used to have a nice patch of blackberries not to far from here, but we can't get to them anymore. I would have transplanted some if I would have known. We have another berry here, not sure what its real name is, my sister-in-law called them wine berries , they are good to eat but their sticky.They take over the raspberries and are hard to get rid of.
 

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Master Of My Domain
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a few pitfalls to consider would be several types of disease. chances are really good that you have several types of disease lurking about in those wild stands of brambles. you may be successful growing berries, but i wouldn't want to sell diseased plant material to others. i comment on this because i have the same situation here...only i have seen the diseases in the wild stock. my plan was to not only sell berries, but to sell lots of plant material as well. i am backing off of the plant sales though.

generally speaking, the wild brambles seem tolerant enough of the problems as a population. i get berries...usually more than i can pick if i let them go wild in the fencerows and threaten to take over the pasture, but i also see lots of orange rust and leaf curl. there may be mosaic floating around too. i would feel terrible if my plants ended up destroying someone's pricey brambles bought from a "reputable" nursery.

if you do decide to sell plant stock, try to get rid of the wild stuff. it is hard to do so. at the very least, get them in check. keep them pruned and thinned so that they can at least breathe and so they don't foster a situation where fungus growth is encouraged. orange rust spreads like wild fire and it loves overgrown brambles that cannot get proper ventilation.
 

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Hired Hand
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
a few pitfalls to consider would be several types of disease. chances are really good that you have several types of disease lurking about in those wild stands of brambles. you may be successful growing berries, but i wouldn't want to sell diseased plant material to others.

QUOTE]

Thanks...good advice...hadn't thought of that. Far too many wild ones to clear out...they'll only come back anyway because I'm sure to miss some of the suckers. Maybe I'll just stick with selling berries. Lots easier and I won't lose sleep at night thinking I might mess up someone else's plantings.
 

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When and how does one trim back blackberry canes? We purchased some commercially several years ago the first two years they had fruit.

Last year the plants went bonkers and spread everywhere!!! I think there may have been berries but the brambles were so thick I couldn't get in there to check - there were defiantely blossoms everywhere.

I'd like to cut them back and have a controlled patch - any suggestions?

Kimberly
 

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Master Of My Domain
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i think this website from penn state has good info. click on the brambles link on the left side of the page and then click on links on the very bottom of each page to navigate the brambles section...or any other fruit you choose.

http://ssfruit.cas.psu.edu/
 

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Hired Hand
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
When and how does one trim back blackberry canes? We purchased some commercially several years ago the first two years they had fruit.

Last year the plants went bonkers and spread everywhere!!! I think there may have been berries but the brambles were so thick I couldn't get in there to check - there were defiantely blossoms everywhere.

I'd like to cut them back and have a controlled patch - any suggestions?

Kimberly
I trim the canes at the end of the year after harvest. The dried, dead canes get trimmed to the ground. All the other canes get trimmed to about knee high. I also take a spade and sever the root between any suckers that have crept out and the main set of canes. This seems to keep the aisles relatively clear.
 

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The place we bought has "thornless" blackberries. In January we cut out the old canes and trimmed the others to three feet high. They are doing nothing right now, no leaves, nothing. Am I just being impatient?? Or did I kill them??
 

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I think you're ok. I just planted a thornless cultivar that I got from a nursery in GA and they have not become active yet either. I was nervous about some sad looking raspberry cuttings I planted this year. I just nicked the bark with a pocket knife and immediately saw that the stems were green underneath. A week later they started growing.
 

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I planted some yellow and red rasberrys. They have taken over. I mow on 3 sides ,but one side is up against the Herb bed:eek:. I've got neighbors comeing over to dig all they want.
 

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Hired Hand
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I planted some yellow and red rasberrys.
Never heard of yellows until a few years ago until a friend of mine told me about picking them as a kid. How do they compare taste wise with the red & blacks...reds are my favorites but the blacks seem to grow better in our area.
 

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I like the reds best. But in the stores the Yellows seem to be special? When the pop out od the ground the yellow bushes are bright green and the reds are a dark greenish red. Mine need to be seperated, don't know how now tho. They have gone crazy. The yellows sure look pretty in the jars.
 

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I have herd that it's possible to make cane cuttings for raspberry and blackberry canes, does anyone know if that's true?
 
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