Gina Fernandez, Small Fruit Specialist, North Carolina State University

Fall 2021

Plant growth and development

  • Primocanes continue to grow but growth rate is slower
  • Flower buds start to form in leaf axils on summer-fruiting types
  • Carbohydrates and nutrients in canes begin to move into the roots
  • Primocane fruiting types begin to flower in late summer/early fall and fruit matures until frost in fall
  • Primocane leaves senesce late fall


  • Primocane-fruiting raspberry harvest
  • Primocane-fruiting blackberry harvest

Pruning, trellising and tunnels

  • Spent floricanes should be removed as soon as possible after harvest is complete
  • Optimal time to prune is after the coldest part of the season is over. However pruning can start in late fall if plantings are large (late winter for smaller plantings)
  • Start trellis repairs after plants have defoliated
  • Remove covers on three-season tunnels

Weed management

  • 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 your states agricultural chemical manual and local extension agent for the best-labeled chemicals to control these weeds

Insect and disease scouting


  • Growers in warmer areas (e.g. extreme southeastern NC) can plant into early December
  • Preparations for winter planting should have already been made. If you have questions about winter planting please contact your local county extension agent
  • In cooler areas, prepare list of ­cultivars for next spring’s new plantings. Find a commercial small fruit nursery list

Nutrition management

  • Take soil tests to determine fertility needs for spring plantings
  • Non-nitrogenous fertilizers are best applied in the fall to established plantings
  • If soil is bare, plant an overwintering cover crop (e.g. rye) to build organic matter and slow soil erosion

Marketing and miscellaneous

  • Order containers for next season
  • Make contacts for selling fruit next season
  • In states near the Atlantic coast (not just the southern states), prepare for hurricanes and assess damage afterward. Some tips can be found at
  • If you are harvesting this fall, be sure you have COVID-19 plans for your farm, addressing issues such as worker health, social distancing, masks, customer communication, etc. Find out and follow any specific requirements for your state or locality. NARBA has compiled a list of resources on our website at There is also a link at the home page

Make plans to attend Grower meetings!

Blackberries and raspberries are part or all of these programs.

Key Resources:

Social Media links:

  • Twitter: @NCTeamRubus  
  • Facebook: Team Rubus   
  • Blogs: