[NAFEX] Blueberries vs. Blackberries

Jim Fruth jfruth at tds.net
Thu Aug 7 09:40:50 EDT 2008

Mark Angermayer wrote, "What I don't understand is why growers aren't 
putting in more blackberries."

    Mark, I understand very well.  I don't get scratched up when I pick 

    Most of my blackberries are upright varieties.  The seven foot high 
fruiting canes are trellised on twine horizontals and most of the primocanes 
are growing up in front of  them.  Before I can pick berries, I've got to 
get the primocanes out of the way.  To do that, I put on  special armor for 
my sleeves and puncture-proof gloves.  Bunches of primocanes are gathered 
together in bundles, forced to the ground (some break) and weighted down 
with heavy fence posts.  The bundles need to be spaced apart because, when I 
pick, I step over each bundle to a bare space of ground where I can stand 
without crushing primocanes.  Then, bundles from the next row need to be 
meshed with the bundles of the first row - I've got eight rows.  The 
particularly troublesome primocanes are those that grow upright 
inter-meshing with the fruiting canes; I have to, somehow, tie these out of 
the way to prevent getting scratched when I'm picking.
    Now who wants to do all that and pick too?  I only do it to avoid the 
high price of blackberry fruit for our jelly.
    These blackberries need to be hand picked because, if they are to be 
machine picked, the primocanes would have to be removed because the picking 
machine would destroy them by continually running over them.  If machine 
picked, you'd need two patches because, when you remove the primocanes, that 
patch won't bear again until two years from now.
    When primocane bearing blackberries become commonplace, machines can 
pick them and the price will plummet.  In the mean time, we'll keep picking 
by hand wishing they were as convenient to harvest as blueberries.

    How does anyone else harvest their blackberries?

Jim Fruth
Brambleberry Farm
Pequot Lakes, MN  56472
For jams, jellies & syrups:
(877)265-6856 [Store]
(218)831-7018 [My Cell] 

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