Grass in Blackberries.

rustico_2009September 8, 2013

Hello everyone, Not doing Farmer's markets now but figure you are the best to ask this question.

I have spent a lot of time and effort keeping grasses from growing around my blackberry plants. I wonder if it matters if I just let it grow maybe weed eat it down now and then.

Would it effect yields much? Maybe I could try to mulch and feed more to make up for the competition from the grasses. It's mostly Crab grass but there are some seasonal ryes too.

Thanks,
Russell

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kelise_m

Mine's grassy. Ofcourse I don't have a proper patch to compare yields with, so I can't help you there. The biggest problem I see is the grass and weed seeds (if allowed to get that bad!) "dirty" my berries.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 3:27PM
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myfamilysfarm

Our wild ones have plenty of grass and weeds around them.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 8:36PM
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brookw_gw

I work to keep min pretty clean. I mulch w/chopped leaves in the fall. If it is bad, your yield will be affected, and the problem will continue to be worse. There are grass-specific herbicides like Poast that do a decent job on grasses. It's expensive though.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 2:09PM
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henhousefarms

Poast works pretty slick but you have to be careful when you apply it - the PHI is 45 days for Blackberries. A substitute is Hy-Yeild Grass Killer - same active ingredient but packaged for homeowners use (you can buy it by the pint as opposed to the 2.5 gal jug that Poast comes in).

Brook - for some reason I thought that BB's did not like mulching. I was going to try it this fall with straw but if you think leaf mulch works better I'll go with that. Learn something new every day.

Tom

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 10:09AM
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brookw_gw

I've heard good things about wood chips too, but as I have loads of leaves, I use those. The young blackberries power right through them, and the leaves decompose, leaving a very rich dirt that only gets better over the years. It also makes pulling weeds a lot easier. I considered my berries this year just average, and we still managed over 160 gallons from 400 feet. Demand is such that I'll add another 200 feet next year. I may also do another 1,000 asparagus. My perennials this year saved us, what with everything else drowning.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 2:12PM
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henhousefarms

Thanks Brook - I guess I'll run into the recycle yard and get a trailer load of chips when it cools down a little this fall. Need to hit them up for some firewood anyway so kill two birds with one stone. I'm pretty new to BB's - planted a handful last spring as an experiment (really poor choice of a year to plant being so dry and they grew very little). Had a few berries this year but the canes really took off so maybe next year I'll have a deceit harvest. On the plus side they were extremely sweet and nice sized.

Tom

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 10:58PM
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brookw_gw

Blackberries are a great item to offer. Demand is tremendous, and they're much more reliable than tree fruit once they're established. Of course, there's a hefty investment in plants and trellises up front, but they should last years. With so many outstanding thornless varieties, I see no reason to bleed for them anymore. There is also the issue of erect/semi-erect, and trailing. The erect are very easy to care for while the semis and trailing types will wear you out pruning. What varieties do you have? I have or have had Black Satin, Prime Jim and Prime Jan, Natchez, Chester, and Triple Crown. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. The bulk of my plantings are Triple Crown, but I'm slowly going to weed them out as they ripen so late most are lost to the heat and they're exhausting to keep pruned. I'd rather have a manageable earlier variety that doesn't get the heat-damaged druplets. I can also space them closer together and just have better control over them. Next year I'm looking at adding Ouchita, more Natchez, and either Lochness or Osage. I really don't like the Prime Jim and Jan. They're thorny, pretty poor producers, have brittle canes, don't taste that great, and their second crop occurs right at the top so you can't keep 'em short. If you want some free starts, see me next spring. I also have a pretty good trellis design that I really like.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 2:06PM
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rustico_2009

Hi everyone, Thanks for the replies, I think I will buck up and beat back weeds and mulch. A few times I have mulched with alfalfa bales, just layer out the flakes and covered with compost ...good for fertilizer as it breaks down too and not really a source of the wort kinds of weeds.

The berries have produced like crazy. one forty foot row 5 feet tall and a a longer row that is the same height but will come into it's second bearing year this spring. The longest vines arch to the top wire and come back down to the lower wire....About 10" in all.

They did sell like crazy the two years I offered them.

The type is Ollalie berry, slightly thorny trailing...easy to start new rows from dug up plants. .I grew up with them sort of, neighbors had them when I was a kid...and they seem bullet proof (though I imagine heavy crab grass is bad). You can read about them on Wikipedia ...mostly Southern Ca plant, I think. They are said to slow down after about 15 years.

This year I sold out two of the 4 most productive weeks and put most of the rest about 100 pounds in the freezers. They were selling 1/2 pint for $3 but based on grocery store prices/ quality, could have asked $4 and gave more samples.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 4:21PM
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henhousefarms

I planted Triple Crown and liked the taste but boy do those canes grow. I am going to re-think my trellis in the spring as it is not going to cut the mustard in the long run. I only have about 20 row/feet so it's not a huge problem. I looked at both Natchez and Chester but with such a small area figured going with just one variety would be best. I rooted a number of daughters off the original plants and planned on doing that again next year.

Tom

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 8:28PM
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