Blackberry Disappointment


After my wild raspberry palooza, I was really looking forward to my big wild blackberry patches. But alas, the blackberries are ripening and they are mostly small, not well filled out. Is it because they’re new bushes, producing for the first year? Is it a bad year for blackberries? Or is it my cosmic fate for being so excited about them????

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on July 12, 2011  

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  1. 7-12

    I can only speak for the blackberries that we have on our property, but here we have blackcaps and if they aren’t right by water of some sort they look like that. The blackberries by the creek, wet spongy ground or anywhere moist are almost always the ones that I pick. They seem to have less seeds when they are fat and juicy too. Again, though, this is just my experience.

  2. 7-12

    KLabmom’s comment seems a good thought on the subject. At first I thought perhaps all the rain had prevented good pollination. But after reading her comment, I remember that our wild blackberry patch during my childhood was right beside a drainage ditch. My mother produced many delicious things from those berries.

  3. 7-12

    I have surprise blackberries too, along the side of my house. They look just like this. My parents have a patch in their back yard that are quite prolific, and not near water. However, they are domesticated blackberries and the patch is probably ten years old or better.

  4. 7-12

    wow, we don’t generally get more than the odd ripe blackberry here(UK) until the middle of august, then picking should stop on the 28th September as the devil spits on them on the 29th!

  5. 7-12

    mine didnt do to well this year either..hopefully next year will be better.
    granny trace

  6. 7-12

    My newly discovered patch looks like that (only not ripe yet). It is their first year, too, and they are not near water. Some of the berries look quite a bit better than others. I’d say the age of the canes would be my first thought as to why they are so small. Not knowing ours were there, we have always mowed them down.

  7. 7-12

    We have about 10 acres of wild blackberries [and dewberries]. Most of them look like the ones in your pic. However, some of them are fat and gorgeous. They are right next to each other – in wet places and in dry places, on hill sides, in the edges of the woods and in full hot sun. Tall, thick patches and short sparse ones.

    Right now I’m leaning toward the pollination thing. We know we’ve had bee problems in this part of Indiana for years. This year, more of the berries look better than ever. I’m wondering if the bees are recovering…or at least had a good year….?

  8. 7-12

    My blackberries didn’t do well this year either. :(

  9. 7-12

    All I know about blackberries is that we only picked the wild, Hymalaian onse in Washington when I was growing up, and they didn’t grow by water, but the ones on older vines seemed to have larger berries. Once my mom got one that was 3 inches long!

  10. 7-12

    Are you sure they aren’t black raspberries instead?

  11. 7-12

    Yes, misery loves company…my blackberries were not voluptuous either this year.

    BUT, if you could see our cornfields. 8-(
    Iowa sustained 100mph winds and corn that was previously about 7 feet tall is now bent over to the ground or actually flat. Maize prayers are needed!! Fortunately no one was hurt badly…just crops and property (just!!).

  12. 7-12

    We not only experienced this with our blackberries & wild raspberries, but also our blueberries, all mountain grown, all scattered out in the clear in good sunshine, or at the edge of the woods under shade, some wet, some dry. Part of the problem is the weather, and not just the past few weeks, but for the whole previous year, so on that level there’s nothing you can do(unless with all of your energy & talents you’ve found a way to wrangle the weather, then we’re all coming to your house and beat it outta ya!).

    But baring weather, there are a few things that can be tried so that if the weather is good, you can maximize your harvest.

    1.)The main thing is to insure there’s enough clearing out around your patches to allow in sunshine, air movement (to prevent disease), and pollinators. This was the first year for your berries after clearing out for your house, right? So this would explain the lackluster growth and harvest. As your patches mature, the harvests and the size of the berries will reflect that.

    2.) Generally the size of your canes will forecast the size of the berries; if the canes are pruny in fall & spring you can generally count on pruny berries in summer, so the goal is help the plant grow larger canes. After clearing out so that max sunlight and air movement can be had, the next thing is fertilization. With natural growth, they don’t require much, but a little of your manure thrown on the roots once a month will help alot! You may need to move or clear out around your patches so that you can get up closer to the root base, but close enough is good enough!

    3.) Plant a wild flower mix around your berries to encourage natural pollination. This can even be done for free by introducing the wildflowers you find on your walks to your blackberry patches. Either snag the seeds when the seed heads have matured (tie paper bags around a few dying flower heads to catch the seeds that fall), or mark the flowers with a survey flag (those orange flags on 12″ wires) to dig the roots this fall when the plant goes dormant.

    Or, just do like I do and don’t wait, dig up now with as much of the root ball intact and transplant. Keep the roots watered while they get over the transplant shock. This can be avoided by watering the plant well before digging, wrap the dug roots asap to avoid exposure to air, water the root ball again, then water right after planting. Continue to water every day while the roots make their transition to their new home, unless it rains which does it for you!

  13. 7-12

    A lot of things have not done well this year. My azaleas did not bloom…and most of my hydrangeas did not bloom either. We had too much rain with cool days and then it turned off blazing hot. I would say the weather has affected your blackberries as well. Better luck for next year!

  14. 7-12

    We tried transplanting wild blackberries with dismal results. Finally mowed them down. When I was a child my granny had wild berries down in a damp hollow (holler) that made the most beautiful huge berries every yr. Can’t find any for sale around here but long for a big bucket full to make preserves with–my husband like them to have the seeds & tame ones have giant seeds & anyway don’t taste the same. Used to find kids who picked to sell but not any more.

  15. 7-12

    Odd! My domesticated berries (hybrid thornless) have HUGE berries on them – some literally as big as my thumb, and TONS of them. I have picked 4 large mixing bowls so far and am about halfway through my harvest. BUT, we did have a rather wet spring, and it’s been raining on and off all early summer (which is unusual for my part of northern VA). The wild berries, on the other hand, have always been smallish (dime-sized), but are less prolific this year than last.

    I read somewhere that blackberries only produce on old cane, so perhaps waiting a year will give you a larger harvest. I also read that once a cane produces, it will never produce again. I am going to tie flags on a few of my branches this year and test it out to see if they bear fruit on those canes next year.

  16. 7-12

    Looks to me like they didn’t pollinate well. Or maybe they’re not getting enough sun?

  17. 7-12

    We have both blackberries

    and wild blackcap black raspberries

    They are not the same thing at all. The wild black raspberries are small like your pictures. The blackberries look like my domesticated red garden raspberries, only black.

  18. 7-12

    Also the wild black cap raspberries fruit at the same time as my raspberries but the blackberries don’t fruit until August.

  19. 7-12

    @Runningtrails – that was my suspicion. The easy way to tell is to harvest them. If you pull the berry off the plant and the core remains behind, it’s a black raspberry. If the core comes with it’s a blackberry. Black raspberries are still very tasty – a bit flowery in flavor, but small.

  20. 7-13

    These are NOT black raspberries. What we had that was ripe all through June and into early July were black raspberries. These are blackberries. Blackberries start ripening here in July and will go through early August. (I know what you mean about the core! I know the difference between raspberries and blackberries.)

  21. 7-13

    Bummer! Probably just the location of that patch or maybe they didn’t get pollinated well. You might have better luck in another patch. Keep an eye out along the roadsides. We pick ours on an AEP right of way.

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