[card title=”Upcoming Meetings”]

Make plans to attend grower meetings!

North American Raspberry & Blackberry Conference
March 3-6, 2020, in St Louis, MO


This checklist was originally developed for blackberry growers in North Carolina. You may have to adjust your work activities either earlier or later depending on your location.

The winter of 2019-2020 has been exceptionally warm, last week at the SE Regional Fruit and Vegetable meetings Jan. 9-12 in Savannah, the temperatures were in the 70’s during the day. Although everyone enjoyed the warm weather, blackberry plants may be coming out of dormancy. Low chilling cultivars in particular may have met their chilling requirement. Check on the chilling hours that have accumulated in your area using the Blackberry Chill Model. Most of the states in the southeastern U.S. are listed. I suggest using model 2.


Plant growth and development

  • Plant is not visibly growing during the winter months although many blackberries will retain their leaves through the winter
  • Some differentiation occurs in the flower buds (flowers continue to develop)
  • Low chilling cultivars can break bud in January after adequate winter chilling. You can monitor chilling hours accumulated in eight states in the eastern U.S. by accessing the Blackberry Chill Model
  • Developmental stages at this time of year as mentioned in the IPM guide at https://smallfruits.org/ipm-production-guides/ are 1. Dormant Delayed dormant (swollen bud) to green tip

Pruning and trellising

  • Pruning should occur in late winter.  However, in some areas winter ice storms can do tremendous damage to plants and trellis systems. If you produce blackberries in one of these areas, pruning can take place early winter to help avoid severe damage
  • Make trellis repairs after plants have defoliated but before pruning and training.
  • Erect types
    • Prune out the spent floricanes
    • Tie canes to wires in a fan shape
    • Cut lateral branches back to 8-12”
    • Thin canes to 6-8 canes/ hill (4 ft spacing)
  • Trailing types
    • Prune out spent floricanes
    • Tie or weave canes to wire so that they do not overlap
    • Prune side laterals to 12-18”
    • Thin canes to 6-8 hill (6-8 ft spacing)
  • Primocane fruiting raspberries and blackberries
    • Prune (mow) primocane fruiting types to ground level

Weed control

Check the Southern Regional Bramble Integrated Management Guide for recommendations.

  • Many summer weed problems can be best managed in the fall and winter using preemergent herbicides. Determine what weeds have been or could be a problem in your area. Check with local extension agent for cultural or chemical means to control these weeds.

 Insect and disease scouting

Check the Southern Regional Bramble Integrated Management Guide for recommendations.

  • Scout fields for insect and disease damage and remove those canes
  • Remove wild blackberries and raspberries by the roots if they are within 600 ft of your planting during the winter


  • Take soil tests to determine fertility needs for spring plantings
  • There are some new raspberry and blackberry cultivars available each year. If you have not tried them or it is not known how they will do in your region, it is best to order a small quantity to see how well they will perform in your area
  • For larger growers, prepare list of cultivars for 2021 plantings and order now. Smaller quantities of plants can be ordered in early 2020 for spring 2021 planting

 Water management

  • Make repairs to irrigation system (check pumps, lines, etc.)
  • Plants generally do not need supplemental water in winter

 Marketing and miscellaneous

  • Order containers for next season
  • Make contacts for selling fruit next season


For more detailed information, check the Southern Region Integrated Bramble Management Guide and the Southeast Regional Bramble Production Guide online version at https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/southeast-regional-caneberry-production-guide.