Micropropagating Our Blackberries
Jones Family Farms' blackberries are grown in three greenhouses that are specially designed and equipped so that pests, such as thrips, aphids and whiteflies cannot enter the greenhouses.

Plants are propagated and grown in these greenhouses in sterilized soil. Flower buds are removed before they open. Employees must go through a sterilization booth before entering the greenhouses.

These procedures ensure that plants are free of insects and diseases. As a member of the NC Foundation Seed Producers. Inc., Jones Family Farms must obtain mother plants from the Micropropagation Unit and Repository (MPUR) every three years. The NC Crop Improvement Assn. certifies the Joneses plants and greenhouses on a yearly basis.
Raising Blackberries in the Home Garden
Small fruits are becoming popular additions to the home garden. Blackberries, in particular, are productive and well suited for homeowners in most of the United States.

Breeding programs have released a number of thornless varieties that are large, taste great, and because they have no thorns, are much easier to harvest than berries found in the wild. In addition, studies have shown that this fruit can help fight cancer, decrease cardiovascular disease, and slow down brain aging And best of all, one blackberry plant can easily supply up to 10 pounds of delicious berries each year.

Blackberries are divided by their growth habit (trailing, semi-trailing, and erect), and by the presence or absence of thorns (thorny or thornless). All blackberries benefit from some sort of support such as a trellis or poles to support their canes. If you have room for several plants, select early-, mid-, and late-season varieties to extend your harvest. Each of these varieties should perform well in most states except where temperatures drop below 10° F.
Site Preparation
Prepare an easy-to-access location for your blackberries a year before planting. Blackberries need full sun and plenty of room to grow. Blackberries grow best in well-drained soils. A soil high in organic matter is beneficial under non-irrigated conditions. If the soil is not well drained, establish the plants in a raised bed.
Establishment and Maintenance
Erect and semi-trailing blackberry plants should be planted about 2-1/2 feet apart. They can be planted in the early spring several weeks before the last frost in the fall. Each plant can produce 10 to 20 pounds of fruit, so four to six plants can easily produce ample berries for a family of four.

Dig a hole that is large enough to allow the roots to spread out evenly. Set rooted plants into the soil at the depth they were grown in the nursery. Fill in the hole and tamp down the soil. Water the newly set plants well, but don’t fertilize until 3 or 4 weeks later.

Fertilize after growth starts with a complete fertilizer such as 10-10-10 at 5 pounds per 100 linear feet (or about 3 to 4 ounces around the base of each plant). In established plantings, apply the fertilizer in March well before the plant starts to produce flowers and fruit.

Support the canes with a trellis. Erect and semi- trailing types perform well using a four-wire system with wires at every 16 feet from the ground. As the canes emerge in the spring, evenly distribute them on the wires to form a fan pattern. Once the canes have reached the top wire, remove the tips to encourage branching

Blackberries require about 1 inch of water each week during the growing season. During fruit development, the plants will need about 2 gallons per plant each day. Mulch placed around the base of the plant reduces the need for water and helps keep weeds under control. Pine straw, wood chips, and seedless grasses are good mulches.

The fruit is ripe and at its peak sweetness when it is a dull black color. Pick fruits that are shiny black if you need to store them in your refrigerator. They won’t be as sweet, but they will last longer. Harvest will continue for 2 to 3 weeks, depending on variety.

As soon as all the fruit is harvested, prune out all the old fruiting canes and remove them from the garden, as they no longer produce fruit. Continue to tie, tip, or train the new canes that have not produced fruit to the trellis until growth stops in the fall. During winter, prune laterals on erect types to 12 to 16 inches, and leave only 4 to 8 canes per square yard for fruit production in the following year.