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Growing black berries in the cold  RSS feed

 
Posts: 33
Location: Ohio 5b6a
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Hello, this is my first post on any subject on any forum ever.  I have been reading permies for a couple years. For 20 years my dad and I have been growing a thornless line of black berries.  We live in north eastern Ohio. We have several patches on 2 farms, 4 miles apart. In 2016 we didn't get any berries at all. In 2018 there were few to be found.  We loose all the second year growth and they start back from the crown.  These berries only produce from 2 year old growth unlike our red and white rasberries. I thought maybe its the extra cold winters, but i am not sure.  If it is, is there a way to protect them other than mulch and Rabbit poo?
 
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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Hi Christopher, welcome to Permies!  What zone do you live in or approximately where in the world are you?

We have wild blackberries all over here in northern WI.  They are definitely NOT thornless though.
 
Christopher Shepherd
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Hi Mike sorry about that, I'm slowly learning here.  We are in northeast Ohio 5b-6a rotates every other year since about 2014.
 
Mike Jay
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Oh, no problem, you're doing great!  I'm sure someone from that general region will chime in with their experiences.  I think I saw that the thornless varieties aren't as cold hardy as the wild ones.
 
pollinator
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Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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Did they just die back once? That does sound like they got too cold. I wouldn’t think that would happen very often in your area. Do you know what variety they are? You might have a southern variety. A lot of them were developed in Arkansas. You could try to protect a few canes by laying them down and covering them with straw.

 
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Several things you can try:
- get as many varieties as you can, the difference between different varieties is really big
- find wild blackberries in your area, plant some and try to crossbreed.
- water them good in the summer heat(at least here providing water during the summer have profound effect on their ability to cope with a disease that is affecting their stems).
- provide shade for their roots and the base of their stems, they suffer from the direct sunlight there.(plant them behind some short but bushy plant which will create shade, the blackberry will be fast at growing above it)
- try to train some stems to grow low and then put straw on them during winter, you can try to insulate them even without them being low but it is more work.
-observe the cane and see if it is affected by some parasites or insects and take measures about it if possible.
- try to improve the soil a little bit, they dont like clay soil
 
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Christopher Shepherd wrote:Hello, this is my first post on any subject on any forum ever.  I have been reading permies for a couple years. For 20 years my dad and I have been growing a thornless line of black berries.  We live in north eastern Ohio. We have several patches on 2 farms, 4 miles apart. In 2016 we didn't get any berries at all. In 2018 there were few to be found.  We loose all the second year growth and they start back from the crown.  These berries only produce from 2 year old growth unlike our red and white rasberries. I thought maybe its the extra cold winters, but i am not sure.  If it is, is there a way to protect them other than mulch and Rabbit poo?



I am pretty sure your berries were developed by the University of Arkansas berry development program so you do have some options;
you can dig and heel in (like roses) the plants from the crown up then reset them in the spring so they can leaf out and bloom for berry production.
you can make a mini hoop house or multiples of these and if you use two layers of plastic with an air pocket between they should over winter well.
to do this I would tie the canes together and stake them near the ground prior to setting up the hoop house.

The UA berries tend to be good down to temps of around 15 degrees f for one or two days duration.

Redhawk
 
Christopher Shepherd
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Thank you for the ideas.  I think your right they were developed in the south.  We got them from my step grandpa who got them from his friend in West Virginia.  We used to gather buckets of berries from them, but it was much wormer between 1997 and 2014.  With out going back to the charts I can only remember the last three years we bottomed out at, -15,-18, and -12 according to my thermometer.  I never thought about laying them down and covering in straw.  I will try this with some of the small patches.  One patch is made with cattle panel about 2 foot apart with berries in between. This would be easy to make a hoop house for them.  I let the giant ragweed and lambs quarter grow up with it for insulation.  I also think the lambs quarter lets me know if there is enough nitrogen and helps water them.  I just seen a local place that has some for sale on cl, so I am going to get some to cross in.  They don't seem to cross with the wild thorny ones we have.  They also will eliminate red raspberries if they're within about 15 yards  They have died back for the last several years producing little.  We have only had one good year since 2014.
 
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Location: Council, ID
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I have Arapaho, Triple Crown, and Chester, and a couple winters ago we has a ton of snow and temps down to -15f for a few days. They all died back to the snowline that year.
 
Ken W Wilson
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Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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Christopher Shepherd
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Location: Ohio 5b6a
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I like the different cultivars you all have told me.  The mother earth has quite a few colder zone varieties to try.  My son who is 14 now, has run a mini market from our front yard for the last 5 years.  Berries are a major draw.  We can usually keep up with our wild line of black raspberries for spring, wild black berries for mid summer and red and white raspberries in the late summer.  I really like the flavor of the thornless blackberry. I was out looking at the canes yesterday and about half of the thornless still have some green in them. I think with crossing some other lines in and using some other strategies from above this fall, we may have a better crop next year.  
 
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