Blackberries and hybrid berries are usually grown in the same way. They both occupy considerable space. Although derived from wild blackberries, cultivated varieties usually produce larger and sweeter fruit. The hybrid berries, such as loganberries and tayberries, have usually been crossed with another similar fruit. Some varieties are thornless, which is a great advantage when harvesting.
A sturdy post-and-wire system is required, with the posts being set at about 3m (10ft) intervals. Four or five wires, about 30cm (12in) apart, should be stretched between them, the lowest being about 45cm (18in) from the ground. They can also be grown against fences, making a useful impenetrable barrier.
Initial and subsequent training
There are several ways to train blackberries and hybrid berries, all essentially similar but differing in detail. Basically, the previous year’s growth (on which the fruit will be carried) is tied in to the wires, while the current year’s growth is kept separate. After fruiting, all fruited wood is cut out and the current year’s wood tied in to replace it. One of the easiest methods is the one-way or alternate bay system. The canes are trained along the wires either to the right or left of the plant, but only in one direction. Depending on the number of canes, each wire will support one or more. As it grows, the current year’s growth is tied in to the wires on the opposite side of the plant. After fruiting, all the canes on the fruited side are cut out and during the second year the new growth is tied in to replace them. This is a good method for prickly varieties, as the canes only have to be handled once. For cultivars that produce long, vigorous stems, the canes can be woven along the wires on either side in a snakelike manner, either running parallel to each other or alternating. The new growth is tied in two bundles along the top wire. After fruiting, the old canes are cut off at the base and the bundles are untied for weaving in a similar manner to the previous year’s canes. With less vigorous varieties, the fruiting canes can be tied in a straight line against the wires (no weaving), with the following year’s canes tied in a column at the centre. After fruiting, the old canes are removed and the new ones tied in their place.
As the years pass, the plants may produce more canes than there is space for, so you may need to thin the current year’s growth. Take out any thin or weak canes. Try to ensure that the canes are tied in properly for the winter or they may thrash around in the wind and be damaged. They should be tied in all year round, as any tips that touch the ground may well root, creating another clump. Blackberries form thickets if not kept under control.
Training methods for blackberries and hybrid berries
Fan training: The new canes are temporarily tied vertically and along the top wire, while the fruiting canes are tied in singly along the wires. Any excess canes are removed. After fruiting, these canes are taken out and the new growth tied in their place.
Alternate bay: One way in which you can train blackberries is to tie all the new growth to one side of the wirework. After fruiting, remove the previous year’s growth from the other side and then use this for the next year’s new growth. Repeat each year.
Weaving: This is a good method of training blackberries where space is short. The current year’s fruiting growth is woven up and over two or three wires, while the following year's fruiting canes are all temporarily tied in to the top wire.
Rope training: A second way to train blackberries is to temporarily tie in all new growth vertically to the wirework and along the top wire. The current fruiting canes are tied in groups horizontally. These are removed after fruiting and the new growth tied in their place.
- ‘Ashton Cross’
- ‘Bedford Giant’ – early
- ‘Himalayan Giant’
- ‘John Innes’
- ‘Loch Ness’
- ‘Merton Early’
- ‘Merton Thornless’
- ‘Oregon Thornless’
- Japanese wineberry
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