Friday, May 28, 2010

Get ready now for backyard blackberries in future

By David Burton
University Extension

Thorns, ticks and chiggers can make picking wild blackberries a painful job. But fear not, Jay Chism, an agronomy specialist with University of Missouri Extension, says there is an option for those who have a taste for blackberries but seek the convenience of picking in a less hostile environment.

“Establishing a few blackberry plants in your own backyard can be rewarding for the home gardener. The best part may be the fact that tame blackberry varieties have larger berries and greater productivity than their wild counterparts,” said Chism.

Before planting blackberries, make sure the selected site has well-drained soil.

“Blackberries will not tolerate having wet feet. On poorly drained areas, berries should be planted on raised beds,” said Chism. “It is also a good idea to eliminate perennial weeds or grasses to avoid competition. Blackberry plants need two to four feet between them.”

The Arapaho, Navaho and Apache blackberry varieties are thornless and do not require a trellis. However, these thornless berries may be smaller and not as sweet. Some of the better thorned varieties are Choctaw, Shawnee, Chickasaw and Kiowa.

According to Chism, the most popular and recommended blackberry varieties can be established by purchasing cultivars developed in Arkansas.

For more general information on the care of blackberries, contact the nearest MU Extension center and ask for these related guide sheets: G6000, “Pruning Raspberries, Blackberries and Gooseberries,” G6012, “Nursery Sources for Fruit Cultivars,” and G6005, “Fruit and Nut Cultivars for Home Plantings.”

For additional gardening advice, or a comprehensive listing of nurseries that sell the Arkansas blackberry cultivars, contact Chism at (417) 682-3579.

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