It's Berry Time Around Somerset County
Posted: July 2, 2012
I just finished eating my oatmeal with fresh blueberries on top. I just love the berries that are ripe this time of the year! The wild black raspberries are ready and so are the blueberries. Before we know it, the blackberries will be ripening also.
Bramble is the term we give to all the berries that typically grow on canes with thorns. Blackberries, raspberries and tayberries (a cross between the blackberry and raspberry) all fit into the bramble category. There are numerous cultivars that are recommended for PA. Choosing one or more of these cultivars will help to insure that the berries are well adapted to Pennsylvania growing conditions. If you are starting new plants, choose a site that is well drained, and plant them in the early spring. Remove any blossoms the first year to encourage the plant to become well established.
Proper nutrition for brambles begins with a soil test. This will allow you to fertilize according to the soil and plant needs for your area. Basic recommendations from Penn State call for 5 lbs. of 10-10-10 fertilizer added for 100 feet of row the first year that brambles are planted. For subsequent years, add 10 lbs. of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 feet. Another good practice is to irrigate brambles when the fruit is swelling. This takes place about a week prior to the fruit ripening. Trickle irrigation is the preferred method. Do not use an overhead watering system because this can increase the likelihood of disease.
Canes that bear fruit this year will die shortly after the fruit has been harvested. These canes should be removed right after harvest to promote air flow through the plants, which will help to keep plants healthy and prevent disease.
Berries should be harvested in the morning shortly after the dew has dried. Berries are cooler at this time of the day, and this can result in them remaining fresh for a longer period of time. Roll ripe berries off the plant: avoid squeezing or pulling them off. Store them in small containers, such as half pints, to prevent crushing the berries. Be sure to refrigerate berries immediately, and they should remain fresh for about a week.
For more information on recommended cultivars, pruning techniques, insects and diseases that affect brambles, contact Melanie at the Penn State Extension office in Bedford County at 814.623.4800 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find information on the web at http://pubs.cas.psu.edu/freepubs/pdfs/AGRS097i.pdf.