how to tend a wild blackberry patch

stevedug(TN)May 13, 2005

our property has a couple pretty large blackbery patches. these are natural, wild patches and produce good berries if we can get to them before the animals do. i have just let them be so far but am wondering if there are some minimal things i could do to increase the berry output. as natural patches, the canes are interspersed with other weeds and saplings and such. should i try to thin out these things? the saplings would be pretty easy to cut out, but the weeds are another story. should i try to mulch out the base around the patches during the next winter? or should i just let it be the way it is and spend my time elsewhere? thanks.

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Hi ya Steve.
Ya know it all depends on what YOU want to do. If you have a really large wide wild patch and wish to increase the harvest the easiest thing to do would be to divide that patch into rows. Man on man it won't be a fun job but you would over winter take you a tractor with a belly mower or a riding lawn mower and clear straight pathes through the stuff. This will increase the production simply by allowing you to get at more fruit.
You could of course do all of this now but I leave this nasty work for the winters when you can wear heavy clothing for protection against those thorns.
Blackberries fruit on 2nd year growth so you can remove the old wooden stuff and keep the younger growth for fruit that upcoming summer.
Mulch if you have the materials but in truth those wild briars are some tough and weeds don't mean diddly to'em. DO CUT THOSE TREES OUT! Shade is a sure way to have those berries go bye bye.
Heres a link from MSU. They tell ya all sorts of groovy things you can do but keep in mind its what YOU want to do that matters. Don't want to do all that work? Then leave them briars be. They were growing before you got there and will continue to do so without your help. I would take out the trees of course.
Mmmmm now for my fruit to come in.

Here is a link that might be useful: MSU blackberries

    Bookmark   May 14, 2005 at 6:18PM
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Our Dewberries, Rubus trivialis, grow in full sun to partial shade, but I noticed recently that the bigger, more tender berries were found under our hardwood trees. These trees are 30-60 feet tall and spaced well apart, so the berries aren't all in dense shade all day. It could be that the animals are finding and eating the exposed big berries more easily out in the open, or it could be that the berry vines under the trees have been less disturbed by mowing or whatever and so they have had the chance to develop larger vines in the first place. Any opinions on why the best fruit was under the trees?

    Bookmark   May 21, 2005 at 4:36PM
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I know this message is a little late, sorry, I just found the forums!

You're wasting your time doing anything to blackberries, unless you are trying to get rid of them. Just let them grow naturally because they are going to do that regardless of what you want, lol.

You could always move them by cutting the canes with hedge trimmers and mowing the entire bush down. But you are going to have to wait for fruit if you want to do that.

Better just to leave them alone.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 9:01PM
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gardenpaws_VA(z7 NoVA)

I'm with Biophilia on this one - both in New York state, where I grew up, and here in Virginia, I'm finding the best fruit is in open shade under hardwoods (or at least deciduous trees). My opinion FWIW is that in a hot summer climate, the berries under the tree have more time to plump up before they actually change color, so there's more flesh per seed.
Steve, if you have good big patches and they are satisfying your needs, I'd say leave 'em unless you really like looking for trouble. However, if you have a smaller patch by the house, it's worth training it some. My current (tiny) patch is under a post oak, well watered because it's next door to where I keep the potted stuff waiting to go in the garden. I go thru it every year cutting out the old canes and any new ones that are too far from the adjacent fence, and tie the fruiting canes to the fence. It provides enough good berries to munch and put on cereal, which is what I want from it. I pick wild if I want enough for jelly.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2005 at 10:21PM
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You know, while I do love all of my MANY wild blackberries, they grow like TRIFFIDS!!!

Decide on how large a patch you want & then keep the rest cut or mowed down. Half my vegetable patch is now full of them because of a load of fence posts dumped there that we weren't able to use right away. The blackberries are now 8-foot tall & spreading outward except for where we've been able to bushhog them back.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2005 at 10:47AM
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