Confused about how 2 grow blackberries

modern_miss(10A (15 Sunset) SF Bay Area CA)December 1, 2013

I want to try my hand at growing some blackberries, maybe 5-7 varieties, a combination of erect, semi-erect and trailing types.
Should I grow them all along one long trellis? Or what's the best way to do this?
How high should the trellis go?
Should the trellis run North/South or East/West? (Does it matter?)
Does anyone have any photos of trellising systems?
Should I plan on tossing bird netting over them before they ripen, or does the netting stay over the plants all year?
thanks for your help!

This post was edited by modern_miss on Sun, Dec 1, 13 at 17:48

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I would think that your area would grow some decent blackberries. I was surprised to see SanFranBay is USDA zone 10a, but I guess you don't get much freezing due to the sheltered water.

Select varieties known to do well in your area.

Plant with southern exposure (which means runs of east to west), up against a wall or fence is ideal.

Some blackberries do not need trellising (erect) and others do (trailing). Some fruit their second season in the ground (floricanes; flower) and other newer varieties have been developed that fruit in their 1st year canes (primocanes; but they are called primocanes in either variety). Floricanes are removed as soon as fruiting is finished and harvested (although some varieties can produce a second late crop on their floricanes) leaving the primocanes for next spring's crop. New replacement primocanes come up the next spring.

8 feet of growth is possible. Netting is put on just before the fruit is ripe. And stored when harvest is done. Otherwise you have blackberry growing through the netting.

Since you have a lot of humidity/fog in the area, you would likely want to prune to open it up for drying so mildew is not a problem.

Fortunately, you have a wonderful CRFG branch in your area.

Here is a link that might be useful: CRFG Bay Area

    Bookmark   December 1, 2013 at 8:35PM
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I make my trellis posts about 6 feet long and string wires at 3 feet and 5 feet up.If possible,rows are oriented North to South,so that the plants get sunlight on all sides.
They can all be grown on one trellis,I guess,but some vigorous ones might start to crowd.Pruning and arranging the canes will help.
The bird netting may have to come off when removing the spent floricanes.
Hopefully your area isn't impacted too much by the Spotted Wing Drosophila fruit fly. Brady

Here is a link that might be useful: Growing Blackberries

    Bookmark   December 1, 2013 at 9:22PM
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I would confirm with local agricultural organizations or other nearby blackberry growers to see if the fruitfly is in your area. You can still grow the berries, but will have to lower your expectations about the crop, or spend extra time processing and timing the harvests.

And consider what you will do with that many berries if you are successful. Harvest, processing, pruning, and even giving them away all take time.
Rare Fruit Growers (CRFG) may not have a lot to do with blackberries, although they would be experienced with fruit in general.

If you are literally in a fog belt environment, it does not matter which way the rows are aligned, but if you have sunny Julys and Augusts, place your row/s North-South. This reduces ripening berry's exposure to high mid-day sun.

If you know that birds are a summertime ripe fruit issue for you, the netting goes on then. Make sure it is easy to lift up for harvesting. Tossing netting directly onto the plants is not advisable, many snags will occur.

Planting blackberries up against a solid wall or fence creates a mess, alters the natural growth habit of the plant, and slows down the picking process.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2013 at 10:46PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

If you Google "How to grow blackberries" you will see lot's of info.
I went the cheapest way possible with a trellis. Well cheapest but still excellent. I used electrical conduit poles.
Galvanized steel, 10 feet long, under 10 bucks a pole.
I bought wire and wire tigheners from Orchard Valley Supply company. Sunk the poles 4 feet. I used a post hole digger. No cement, they are steel, and 4 feet down!
Works great. I use 2 wires at 3 and 5 or 6 feet.
I put most on one trellis, but I have 10 plants so I use 3 trellises actually. Putting in another short one to add a couple more plants. 2 plants have no trellis. I'll use a long stake if needed. Upright varieties, just put in.
It's doesn't matter if all on one trellis or not. It might be easier to organize if next to the same types. Mine are not.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2013 at 12:19AM
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modern_miss(10A (15 Sunset) SF Bay Area CA)

Thanks, this is super helpful.
I have just joined the CRFG and will go to the January meeting.
I have a ton of invasive wild blackberry trying to come into my yard and no fog so i think this could work...*(fruit fly permitting)

    Bookmark   December 2, 2013 at 3:56PM
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