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Blackberry 2014 update...

Posted by konrad___far_north 3..just outside of E (My Page) on
Tue, May 27, 14 at 1:43

The other thread was getting too long.

Please post pictures when you see your first blooms, I like to see how long it takes for the blooms and ripening in the various cultivars, here we can compare them nicely!

As said before, mine out in the country,...perhaps a low zone 3, my Chester died completely down, year 3, [unprotected], the other plant right beside, Balsor's Black, same age, had two canes alive, these should produce fruits,..it's just now will they ripen before snow falls?

Got rid of the Chester, not totally,... shooting up from below, I made 4 babies and could go soon for adoption to the warm city!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Blackberry 2014 update...

In the city, my Chesters (year 6, covered every winter) came through better than in any other year. My garden is very muddy with all the rain recenly, but I'll try and get a pic soon. Results vary in the city... a friend also growing Chester says his winter survival was not good...haven't seen those canes myself so just going with what he says.

Interesting that Balsor's did better for you, Konrad. Rated as zone 4 (whereas Chester is what?.. zone 6?), maybe it really is a hardier option. It will be interesting to see how well it fruits for you later this summer.


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Konrad, good to know that you're trying 'Balsor's Black', I might have to order some for next spring.


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Chester on May 27. Green trellis pole sticks 4' out of ground, so if canes were raised vertical it looks like about 2 metres of canes survived, normally only about 1 m of cane survives. Smaller plant in the lower left is a sucker from last year (the only sucker this plant has produced).
 photo May2714Blackberry.jpg


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Went to look today,..thought it was a flower,...bird poop lol.


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First flower buds are appearing on Tayberries and Siskiyou blackberries. Bloom is probably 3 to 4 weeks away at least, though. That's a Tayberry bud in the picture above my thumb nail.


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WX, are you in the US or Canada? Things like tayberries and boysenberries I've only ever seen in the US, but then again we have limited offerings to begin with in zone 3, so maybe they are available in the warmer zones in Canada...


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About 3 years ago I traded with someone who had Tayberry growing somewhere an hour north, with one of my 5 year old plum tree. Turned out the berry was dead. I was also supposed to get seaberry,..but it was a little hawthorn sucker with a clump of crabgrass. The third thing was red raspberry,...it wasn't,
it was a black,..I liked this one.

My blackberry flower looks about the size of your Tayberry

Please post when flowers open on the Blackberry


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This "new" little plant I'm testing, no name, [Russian] from last year has flowers already!


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Balsor's Hardy Black from today.


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Interesting! That's well ahead of my Chester blackberries. I had Boyne red raspberries get their first blossoms on June 21, Honeyqueen yellows get their first blossoms on June 22, but the blackberries are slower -- they have buds but no blossoms.


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Don,
do you recall when the Chester flowered at the earliest?

Mine were small plants going into winter with good snow cover,
it remains to be seen when they grow larger, [bushier] and not all
covered with snow,..might need to train some canes close to the ground.


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Here's a pic of Siskiyou (don't pronounce the second "i") trailing blackberry today. The flower had started to open 3 days ago, but we had cool, rainy weather and it didn't budge. Tayberry started flowering on the 24th. Looks like Wild Treasure (another trailing blackberry) will be opening tomorrow. For comparison, Don555, Boyne started flowering on the 23rd and Honey Queen on the 27th. Both raspberries will start ripening the first or second week of August. However, the blackberries probably won't be ripe until the third or fourth week of August. Don't know about the Tayberry.
I'm 20 miles outside of Fairbanks, AK, and 1000 ft up a ridge. This location is above most of the wintertime inversions, providing a zone 3a climate, compared to z2 or even z1 on the valley floor below me. I get my plants from sources in the Lower 48, so I can get most anything available in the US - if I want to pay the shipping, which can be as much as the plant itself.
I have 36 varieties of blackberries, 4 blackberry/raspberry crosses and about 25 varieties of raspberries. Here is a quick rundown of survival rates on the blackberries:

Erect: Illini Hardy = 100%, Stenulson = 90%, Ouachita = 90% (odd, since it is not very hardy)
Semi-erect: Chester & Triple Crown=10%, Hull (similar to Chester, but earlier) = 40%
Trailing varieties: Wild Treasure = 15%, Marionberry = 40% (more on this), Siskiyou = 30%, Silvan = 40%, Black Diamond = 90%; Tayberry = 20%, Loganberry (cross) = 90%

Chester, Triple Crown and Hull were severely attacked by voles. The figures represent survival of only those canes that were not eaten by voles. I accidentally ran an experiment last winter when I forgot to remove the floating row cover I put over a Marion plant to aid in ripening berries that it produced last summer. They never ripened and I forgot about the fabric covering the plant until the snow melted this year. The entire length of primocane that was under the floating row cover over the winter is alive and growing vigorously (what wasn't covered died). It has flower buds on it, as well. I believe that survival here is dependent on how cold the temperatures get before a significant snow cover accumulates (>6 inches, 15cm). After that, the plants are protected. We received 12 inches (30cm) of snow with the first real snow storm and right after the temp dropped to about 0F (-18C). This amount of snow covered all blackberry varieties listed above. Midwinter low was -24F (-31C) - not all that cold (Don555, we decided to send our cold your way).
No buds on Illini Hardy, Stenulson (I broke the good cane off of that one attempting to trellis it), Chester, etc. yet. In addition to Siskiyou, Wild Treasure and Marion, I have buds on Black Diamond, Silvan and a wild trailing blackberry.
Chester looks to be more vigorous this year, but probably still not as vigorous as some of the trailing varieties. It has not produced canes more than 2 ft (60 cm) long (first and second years). This may be because summers are so cool here.
Konrad, it will be interesting to see what the Russian variety tastes like. If it is pretty good, that one looks like a keeper. It will also be interesting to see how Balsor's and this variety do with less protection. I know the ones that will produce for me need some (with the possible exception of Black Diamond).


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Last year I put in 3 "prime" cultivars from Stark Bros. nursery. Prime Jim, Jan, and Ark 45, I'd say I lost over 90% of last years canes during the winter. This years primocanes are now about 4 feet tall and most already have flower buds on them. I'm very surprised as my raspberry primocanes, some of which are 5 to 6 ft tall and came up earlier, probably won't be forming blossoms for another month. Pretty impressed with these blackberries, nice to get a good crop even after a historically bad winter (coldest since 1978).


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Konrad asked... "Don, do you recall when the Chester flowered at the earliest? "
***************************************************
Going thru old garden notes....

in 2011 both Chesters began flowering around July 10.

In 2012 it was July 5 for first blossoms.

In 2013, seems I did not record the date of first blossoms.

In 2014, still at bud stage as of June 29....

.


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July 3 - very first bloom on my Chester this year.


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July 4 - Both plants blooming today, one with its first flower, the other has 5 now.


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Thank you all!

wxjunkie...WOW 36 variates!
How long you've been experimenting with blackberries?

>>(with the possible exception of Black Diamond).<<
...it's a zone 6 to 9,...no protection?

So, throwing over some row cover could be a possible solution
for some winter protection, ..thanks for mentioning this!
I might try this out.

mhayes8655 .. primocanes was on my mind for several years,
still, I'm not convinced yet in any so far, [also raspberries] I love
tall plants for easy picking. Please let us know how
this ripening will turn out, [with date]...season is coming to a end!...lol...already? darn!


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Today I picked the first Russian blackberry,..was surprised how sweet it is.


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Impressive! They look smaller than the commercial varieties, but if you are getting ripe fruit this early, that is outstanding! My BB have a heavy fruit set, but no berry is near ripe.

How is your Balsor's Black variety doing?


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Balsor's Black is turning color a little now, perhaps another week,
also not commercial size, seems about the same as the Russian,..as you said, who cares when at least you can grow some and fairly early harvest. The Chester is a little larger, also not commercial size.

Got some Chester to give away, ..if anyone wants.


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This one doesn't count,...because I bought it this June.

Black Satin, picked a couple of berries, good size, great taste.
Will find out next year if it survived.


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Nice! I find Chesters really size up in the final stages of ripening, so it will be interesting to see if Balsor's does the same for you. This is an old pic from 2011, but it shows that Chesters grown in Edmonton can get every bit as big as store-bought blackberries:
Sep711blackberry4 photo Sep711blackberry4.jpg


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Yes, got some from you,.. been buying some of these new ones,
seems about double in length.

Balsor's Black,..been picking some.
Actually, I was impressed!
If these survive the winter just as well as the Russian, I would say it's the winner!

If,...black satin survives, this one has the best berry of all 3.

Balsor's Black

This post was edited by konrad___far_north on Sun, Aug 17, 14 at 12:16


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Balsor's Black


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OH.....has anyone got the no name Backberry from this hardy Quebec nursery? Got it last year also but hasn't done much.
They said that it is their own seedling and hardy for Alberta.

BTW...got the Garry Raspberry also from them, [above the blackberry].
Taste of Wild Raspberries and the Size of Grown Raspberries,..
so they say.

I find, it's not what they claim,...also not productive.
Berry is small, about the size of Latham. Latham Raspberry I would say is the closest to a wild, has a nicer taste and much more productive.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Hardy Fruit Tree Nursery


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Picked the first ripe Wild Treasure blackberry today. A bit on the small size and the taste was not what I'd expected - more of a sweet strawberry flavor than the ones in the store. I have a few Siskiyou berries and one Marion that should ripen before the first frost, so I can compare. Unfortunately, with summer nearly gone (another week or so of sufficient heat to ripen berries), it looks like a small harvest. I should still get a dozen or more Wild Treasures to ripen before frost.
I picked a Tayberry earlier this week. Like a raspberry, but with a little blackberry thrown in. Rather tart and difficult to pick (drupes fall off individually). Looks like they will continue to ripen in cooler weather.
For comparison, I have yet to pick Honey Queen (a few are ripe now) and the first Boyne was picked earlier this week. Most things are 7 -10 days behind the norm due to cool, wet weather. Chester didn't flower - as usual - and is only 2 ft. tall - also typical for Chester here. Hull (same parentage as Chester, only a little less hardy and a few weeks earlier in the lower 48 states) has canes 4 ft long and flowered on August 4th, so I won't get anything off of that either - and likely never will.
I found out that laying black weed block under the blackberries significantly increases cane growth rates. I'll post the final results later, but this looks like a promising way to get longer canes here if it doesn't cool the soil too much. Mulch in general is not used here because it keeps the soil cold and doesn't allow minerals and nutrients to decompose in the soil, eventually killing the plant.


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WOW...your'e really late, yes, you must have been cold then.
Some Raspberries are ending here, Honey Queen had several weeks good loads, have you got Latham, found out, it's the earliest to fruit, this one is completely finished now. It's a small berry but flavor is very nice.

Checked on the Russian Blackberry today with picture, about 2/3 have completely ripened.


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wxjunkie, wow, you are late! I take it you are in Alaska?

I'm in central Alberta and I picked my first Boyne on July 20, first Honeyqueen on July 22. There are still some scattered berries on those rasps now, but the main harvest is finished.

Picked my first ripe Chester on Aug. 20 and so far that's it. The plants are loaded with berries and a few more have turned black but need another day or two to sweeten up, but the main harvest won't be until September, weather cooperating.

BTW, if you end up with frost about to take out your BB, you can snip off the twigs with berries and put the stem end in a jar of water indoors by a window. Any berries that are decently red when you snip the twigs will continue to ripen indoors over the next days to a week, and should get black and tasty and sweet. Not as good as vine-ripened, but in a pinch... The further they are from ripe when you snip them, the less taste they will have when ripened indoors, and ones that don't have red in them already won't ripen at all.


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Third ripe Chester berry so far, main harvest will be in September.
 photo Aug2514Chester.jpg


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Thank you Don!
As you can see now, even in a hot summer, like we had this year, Chester would ripen too late for my place out on the orchard. On top of that, I'm about 10 day's behind you in growing and in two weeks the season could be over, at your place you should be good for at least mid Sept.
Over the years you've been growing them, how many ripened out in %? My Russian seems to be done in a week or so, the Balsors black in about 2 weeks,..picked a bunch today on this one.


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The first year I grew them that they produced fruit (the year after planting), frost took everything out in early September or so, after I had just a taste of the berries.

In every year since then I've got essentially a complete harvest, with just a few immature berries left on the canes, kind of like raspberries in our zone after mid or late August.

But those 3 or so years of excellent blackberry harvest has been due to some warm summers and frosts that held off until early October. Those are unusual conditions for my location (based on the past 23 years). Which is why I'm following how some other varieties are doing, in case I get shut down by frost some fall, or the canes get hit with severe winter kill.


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Have picked 6 Wild Treasure blackberries, the equivalent of about 1/2 a Siskiyou blackberry (very poor fruit set), one frost-damaged Marionberry, two Tayberries and a Loganberry. Saw 29F (-1.7C) yesterday morning and 28F (-2C) this morning. With record summer precipitation, 8th coolest summer on record and a frost-free season of just 104 days, this was certainly a good test of what is possible with blackberries. I will have two more varieties (Obsidian and Metolius, both trailing) that should come into bearing next year that are supposed to be very early. However, they may suffer the same limitations as Marion and Siskiyou in that the average temperature has to remain above 50F (13C) for ripening to continue. Wild Treasure tolerates cooler temps during ripening. Given that temps here begin a downward spiral after August 15th and that blackberries seem to begin ripening shortly after that, this is a serious limitation for me.
As for flavor, those who have tasted my Wild Treasure have raved about it. It doesn't taste anything like those in the store and I had to get used to it. Flavor starts off as a combination of plum, raspberry, cherry and blackberry and finishes with strawberry. It is rather sweet. I think it would make great jam.
Don555 . . . yes, 25 miles NW of Fairbanks.
I have Latham. It is quite variable in timing for me, but typically is one of the first to ripen - with Cascade Delight, which to me has much better flavor. I am trialing Prelude, but it has not spent a winter outside yet. This year Prelude was a week earlier that Cascade Delight and 15 days earlier than Latham. Berries are bigger and very tasty - just not very hardy. If it works, I could get raspberries before August 1st, the usual beginning of raspberry season.
As for the Arkansas varieties (Ouachita, Navajo, Natchez, etc.) and semi-erect varieties (Chester, Triple Crown, Hull, Doyle's), maximum berry size right now is 1/2 inch and they are far from ripe. Frost got them, too. Again this year, Chester grew a whole 2 ft (0.6 m) and never flowered. Just doesn't like it here. All of these varieties waited until August to flower, whereas Wild Treasure, Siskiyou, and Tayberry all started flowering late June.
Forecast is for 1 - 2 inches (2.5-5 cm) of rain and high winds this week with the potential for snow at higher elevations. Looks like an early winter.


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Thank you all for this report!
wxjunkie...hopefully things turn around for you next year.


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Chester getting better:
 photo Sep214Blackberries3.jpg


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Looking good Don!
I picked mostly all today,...just in the neck of time before freeze,..forecast for next Wednesday low 2C. in the City.
It's been a good warm summer.
How do yours ripen in cooler temp. Don?


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In really cool weather, my blackberries tend to just sit there and do little. But on warm or sunny autumn afternoons, ripening goes on, throughout September and even into October, until frost hits. My Chester are really a September crop -- always risky in Edmonton, though perhaps a bit less so as the city has swallowed up my location near the city edge over the past 25 years and added us into the "urban heat island".

Anyhow, I've picked close to 100 ripe berries now, will cover the plants against frost as long as I can or until all the berries are ripe. Here's a pic of my main Chester berry canes today... lots of berries close to ripe, some good weather to ripen these would be great.
 photo Sep414Blackberry2.jpg


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180 oh-so-tasty berries picked now. Berries are still in the first half of the harvest, more warm and frost-free weather would really help out. Rain and 5 degrees for a high on Monday isn't going to help...


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Had a hard freeze a week ago, I covered up the blackberries with blankets before the frost but I'd say 1/2 to 2/3 of the berries still on the plant froze and died. On the positive side, many of those killed were young berries on the outside of the plant so were not likely going to ripen anyway. Still quite few were protected on the inside of the plant and are still ripening. Picked another 65 today, for a total now of just over 300 berries.


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My final berry count:
15 Wild Treasures
5 Tayberries
4 Siskiyou
4 Silvan (all ripened inside)
3 Loganberries
1 Marionberries
0 Black Diamond (froze)

Don 555, we had your hard freeze the last of August and that froze all berries on my erect and semi-erect (Chester-type) vines and most berries on my trailing vines. Tayberry (including berries) is frost tolerant to 28F (-2C) and continued to ripen fruit until the next hard frost (26F/-3C) on September 21st. The August frost froze small berries on Wild Treasure, but the larger ones were spared and ripened through September 13th. This was the last day to pick true blackberries that ripened outside. On September 20th, I cut one lateral off of Silvan to bring inside. It was the only one that had a partially red berry on it. What I found out was that this variety ripens very well inside as long as the berries are at least 3/4 of full size when brought inside. They can be green and still ripen quite nicely. Smaller berries still ripen, but they remain smaller and are fairly tart, with a "green" taste to them. I would have cut several more laterals if I'd known they would do so well inside. They taste like boysenberry and are quite sweet. I harvested berries for about 7 weeks total. While I didn't get many - and gave most of those to skeptics - I really enjoyed the taste of fresh blackberries. I am looking forward to next summer and trying different cultural practices that might hasten harvest. Unfortunately, we haven't had much snow and temperatures have been up around freezing in the day for the last two weeks, further reducing the snow cover. No significant snow is in the forecast, but neither are particularly cold temperatures. I was able to cover my Wild Treasure, Black Diamond, Marion and Logan before the snow fell and moose browsed. I need to figure out how to get Black Diamond to leaf out and flower earlier. The foliage on this variety is quite frost tolerant (compared to Wild Treasure), however its fruit gives up at the mere mention of frost (all berries froze under frost protection at the end of August). The fruit are "well presented" (i.e., they sit outside the foliage) which means for me that they are easy to pick, but unprotected during frost. I am also considering how I will trellis them, as trellising will lift the floricanes above the primocanes (which can get really tangled if left on the ground), but also remove them from ground heat. I found that laying black weed block on the ground under Wild Treasure produced a primocane almost 10 ft (3 m) long, twice the length (and diameter) of canes not on weed block, but on the same plant. It looks like the moose might have trampled that cane unfortunately. Don555, your Chesters are up against a fence - something I don't have, but I wonder if you would get more growth and perhaps earlier ripening over weed block. Of course, you receive more heat than I do, so it may not be as important for you. On the other hand, Oregon State University reported greater primocane growth over weed block in their organic trials, but not double.
Chester performed similarly this year (right up until the moose ate it. Longest primocane was 2 ft (.7 m) long and the stub of a floricane never flowered. Even Illini Hardy flowered - on September 13. The other erect and semi-erect varieties flowered in early August. Silvan (a very thorny trailing variety) was intermediate in first flower date between these and other trailing varieties at July 15, yet I still managed to get berries off of it. In fact, it was snowing outside while I was enjoying delicious, fresh Silvan blackberries inside in October!


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Great report, Don & wxjunkie!

Hopefully there will be more next year, have covered up the black satin with leaves, the Balsor's Black a little with row cover, nothing on the Russian and Montreal Seedling.

Thank you so much!


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Boy I'M glad I checked this thread! I gave up on black berrys up here I tried a thornless variety from T&T Seeds, 20 years ago, it died back each year,When I see those Chester And Balsors it blows my mind, They are going to be on my list next year.


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I'm glad I found this thread.My chesters died right back in a very nasty Manitoba winter . I'm wondering if I should be covering them.I haven't really done that before so I'm not sure what to use or if would increase the risk of mouse damage.


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Konrad, if you don't mind me asking, where were you able to come across your Russian blackberry variety?

Pictman, yes, 'Chester' is tender variety that you will need to lay to the ground and cover with leaves or something such and then also provide mouse protection.

This post was edited by twrosz on Sun, Nov 23, 14 at 12:13


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Just to do an end-of-year update, after the early September frost my plants continued to produce well, which was a surprise to me. Seems the berries inside the plant had enough protection from frost to survive, whereas the ones on the outside were killed. The plants continued to produce into very early October when a very hard frost killed any remaining berries. However, at that point most had ripened anyway. In the end I got over 650 blackberries from my two Chester plants, my best harvest yet.

Pictman - you definitely need to cover those canes or they will kill to the ground and you won't get any fruit next year. These are floricane plants in this climate so they fruit on the previous year's canes. If the canes don't survive, then no fruit. The plant will likely still survive underground and put up new canes each year, but they won't fruit in the current year.

I put mine to bed as soon as the ground freezes, then uncover around mid to late April when the snow is gone and the risk of hard freezes is over. They will still have green leaves when uncovered in the spring. Here's what mine look like when I put them to bed in early November -- I laid the canes down, put bricks on the end of the canes to hold them down, then covered with a thick layer of leaves and/or straw, then topped that with burlap to hold everything in place. (The blackberries are along the fence - one plant has snow on the burlap, the other doesn't. The other bed covered with loose straw has tender roses). Don't use poplar leaves, they compact into a slimy mat by spring. Good luck!
 photo Nov914WinterProtection1.jpg


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I was hoping it was our extreme winter last year as many of my small fruits didn't produce(grapes, blackberries, haskap, saskatoons, cherries, plums).Some are rather young so they will be excused. Thank goodness we had a big apple crop to make up for it . I'm thinking I could cover them with straw.Itreated them with Scoot as they seem to be a favorite deer snack so that should keep the mice at bay.How far do you bend or lay them down? Opinions?


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Thank you all!
Terry, ...from Austria.

Leaves are good as long when put into a plastic bag or plastic coverings.


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Pictman -- straw is a great cover, probably the best. I usually use tree leaves, just because I have those for free in my backyard, whereas straw I have to go buy (kind of messy in my Honda Civic), then deal with disposing of the straw in the spring.

I try to lay the canes down as close to the ground as possible. It's best to start training them to lay almost flat in August, while they are most pliable. But that can be tough while you are still actively harvesting and everything is entangled. Basically, the closer to the ground the better. One year I even buried part of them under a few inches of soil, but that caused problems with rot. So go with canes as flat as possible, covered with straw.


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I have 2 Wild Treasures, 1 Black Diamond, and 2 Marionberry plants under heavy floating row cover. I did not cover any of them with straw, as that tends to attract voles. I let snow cover the row cover material and interestingly, though we've had some above freezing days, the snow has not melted off. I have numerous other potted blackberry plants under plastic and straw (don't care if the voles get to those, just protecting the roots) - the same method I use to protect potted grapevines (voles don't seem to like these). The others of my 30+ blackberry varieties are left to the elements, though I did mound some snow on one Tayberry. Siskiyou and Silvan did fairly well last year with just snow cover. Plus they have thorns and I have only recently come across the idea to use plastic under the floating row cover to prevent it from being shredded by the thorns I also read that using true white plastic for winter protection is much better than the clear to opaque plastic sold at hardware stores, which tends to trap heat inside and (for me) melt snow on top of it. Hull (sibling of Chester and somewhat earlier) and Illini Hardy will probably survive okay, though they are too late to ripen anything, so it doesn't matter.
I came across a study that examined the humidity surrounding blackberry canes in cold weather and what impact that had on cane survival. It appears that they can suffer substantial damage just from very dry air. And we know about dry air in the winter, don't we! I hope to play with this in the next two years to see if I can get better cane survival, but I think just adding floating row cover (which increases humidity, too) will make a big difference - unless the moose steps on it and the canes.
Don555, I also had much higher survival rates for berries that were inside the canopy when the frost hit. However, I also noticed that berry size appeared to be a factor on some varieties. Those that were already at least 1/2 of full size and green had high survival rates, whereas berries that were smaller tended to die - especially if they were 1/4 size or smaller. Silvan displayed this phenomenon, and I ended up cutting some off and bringing them inside just before the next frost almost a month later.
We now have 10 inches (25 cm) of snow (didn't drop below 0F/-18C before this accumulated), so everything should be tucked in nicely for the real cold - barring any episodes of rain.


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RE: Blackberry 2014 update...

Great report..thank you!

Only -18C...we had minus 35C! It worries me a bit, tooo....early!


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