It is said; the darker the berry, the sweeter the juice. I believe that is the case with the blackberry. They are a perennial and tend to grow very rapidly in season and lie mostly dormant outside of it’s growing season. There are many great things about growing blackberries aside from the tasty fruit itself. As long as they are in good soil and have something to climb they do very well on their own. There are over 300 different species, with dozens of them having been improved for growing. It shouldn’t be difficult to find a well suited variety no matter where you live.
Mexico is the largest grower of blackberries in the world, Oregon being the largest producing state in the US. World production of blackberries exceeds 170,000 tons, with about 15K of that being picked from wide blackberry plants. Production has grown by 60% over the last 15 years. Showing how deep the market and demand is for these tasty berries.
Whether you are looking to grow them for home use or thinking of some level of commercial production these are easy to grow. The following recommendations should be followed for success.
1. Planting should be done in the fall for most areas, or in the spring if you live in an area where a freeze may come early.
2. Proper placement should be a key consideration. You want to find a place away from other wild blackberries, as they may have viruses that could kill your new planting. If planting for home use, a fence provides a wonderful place for them to climb. If you don’t have a fence constructing a trellis will be necessary.
3. Fertile soil. As with just about anything you might plant soil fertility is important. Prepare the area ahead of time by clearing out any other growth and adding some fertilizer to it before planting. I would recommend an organic fertilizer mixture as an additive to the soil. Remove the soil where you would plant into a wheelbarrow, add the fertilizer, then put back. I would let it sit for a week or so before actually planting.
4. Keep the area around it clean. Maintenance will be more of a chore if weeds and grass keep growing up around it. Mulch around the based will work well, but small rocks would work better. They never need to be replaced and don’t hold moisture, which can be an enemy.
5. Make sure it is watered regularly, at least in the first few years for home use and forever if you are plan to grow enough to sell the berries or a product derived from the berries. I think most understand this, there are many easy ways to accomplish this today. Many simple and cost effective attachment to a water spigot will provide timing and water flow controls that make this task easy.
You should expect a decent crop by year 2 and a growing yield over time. Blackberry plants can grow almost indefinitely in length but the yield and quality will suffer. Each fall you should cut back on the stems that look like they are weak. As the plant gets to full maturity, you should keep it 8ft or less to either side to ensure it grows to the best of its ability in yield and quality.