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Pruning Raspberries and Blueberries


“We purchased many bare root raspberries and blueberries in the spring for our new garden…. Many of the raspberries bore fruit this fall.  I’m wondering how they should both be pruned this fall?  Please
advise…
Thanks
Jesse”

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Hi Jesse,

Thank you for the email regarding your raspberries and blueberries.

First question: do you have summer-bearing/everbearing or fall-bearing types of raspberries?

Raspberry PruningIf you have a summer-bearing and everbearing types of raspberry, you do not want to prune it in general.  The berries will be produced on canes from the previous year.  The only ones that you should think about pruning would be those that have grown up beyond the area you have designated for them, or any that are spindly or diseased.

As for fall-bearing types, you definitely want to prune them in late winter/early spring before the buds break dormancy.  Prune all canes that bore fruit last year; they won’t fruit again. These will have grayish,
peeling bark.  To force your everbearing raspberries to produce only one crop in the fall, prune back the entire raspberry bush in early spring. As the canes grow back in the summer, remove outside suckers and thin the canes to about 6 inches apart. Keep the sturdiest canes. This technique will give you a larger fall harvest and is good if you also have summer bearing raspberry bushes and you want to stagger the harvests.

As the summer goes on, you can always prune out any dead, broken or diseased canes or those that are outside your designated row area. Of course, you can prune broken, dead, diseased or infested canes at any time of the year, the sooner the better.

And one other thing:  wear thick gloves as raspberries have some serious thorns on them. And use clean, sharp tools.

As for the blueberries, spring is the best time to prune. Before domancy has broken, remove any diseased or broken wood, plus crossing branches. You want the bush to have a narrow base and a wide, open top that allows sunlight and air in.

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Staking Fall-Bearing Blackberries


“I purchased some fall bearing blackberries.  How do we stake these up?  There are about three blackberries on the plant, but I feel we are going to have frost before they ripen. But, my question is how do we stake or tie these up?

Mary Weiner”

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Hi Mary,

Thank you for the email regarding your blackberries.  I’m glad to hear that they are doing well.

Fall Blackberries

Various trellis or support systems can be used with blackberries, but staking is simpler. Also known as the hill system, staking blackberries requires first planting bare root berries about four feet apart in a row.

1.  Drive in a metal T-post about 6 inches from each plant so that posts also stand 4 feet apart in the row.

2.  Run one strand of wire tightly between all posts in the row–attaching to each post–at a height of about 4 1/2 feet above the ground.

3.  Spread fruiting branches out along the wire. Twine these branches around the wire and attach them loosely with plastic plant ties.

4.  Tie later new canes, as they emerge, to the post, establishing the center of the berry hill. Continue to prune and train canes to the wire support and post as plants get established.

5.  Cut back and remove all floricanes–fruit-producing or second-year canes–after harvest, when they die back.

6.  Thin the remaining canes early in the following spring, leaving just 5 to 7 of the sturdiest canes per hill. Cut side branches of the canes back to 12 buds and then tie canes to the post or wire.

7.  Pinch off the growing tips of new canes when they reach the wire, to encourage side branches, or laterals, that will bear fruit the following year.

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

 

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Mulching Blackberries


“Do blackberry brambles need to be mulched for the winter? Mine
are varieties that are “hardy” but I wonder if mulching the the plants canes
and all would be helpful.

Steve in Jenera, OH”

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Hi Steve,

Thank you for the email regarding your blackberries.  It is okay to mulch blackberries, but it is not necessary.  To be honest, in my garden at home, I do not mulch the canes.  If some leaves blow in and get caught in them, I usually leave them there, but I don’t add anything beyond it.  I have a good crop of berries each year.

Blackberry Canes
One thing to keep in mind if you do add mulch is that the mulch may provide a nice overwintering hideout for mice, voles, and other vermin that may see your canes as dinner.  When blackberries (or for that matter, any woody plant) is mulched, there is a higher risk that animals may chew on the canes and/or girdle the canes.

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

Longevity of Ripe Red Peppers


“Hi Mertie,

I was wondering if you could help me out with a pepper question that we had happen last fall. I like to let my peppers stay on the vine until they are red, but find that they rot in no time at all ones they are picked. For example, if on Saturday I picked 4 peppers that had just finished turning red, they were mush by Monday night. The green peppers I picked on Friday are still nice. What gives? We have had some wet weather, but the plants did not have any diseases and the fruit was not laying on the ground.

Thank you,
Barb in Powersville, MO”

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Hi Barb,

Thanks for your question regarding peppers.

Red Peppers

Your experience with your peppers last fall is a great example of the damage that can be done to a fruit by the presence of ethylene gas.

As a fruit ripens, the process is aided along by the naturally-occuring plant hormone ethylene.  This hormone is released by the plant to soften the fruit tissue, convert various compounds in the fruit from acids to sugars, and degrades the chlorophyll that makes the fruit green so that the other pigments that were always in the fruit (but had chlorophyll blocking them out) are able to be seen.  Once the process has completed, you are left with fruit tissue that is somewhat softer and much sweeter.  This is a FEAST for bacteria and mold, and, as you experienced, your pepper fruit does not last too long after that.

While this process occurs in all fruits, some are able to deal with it better.  For example, apples have a tough skin on them and acids that remain in the flesh of the fruit once it has ripened.  Squashes and pumpkins have a hard rind.  Citrus have a thick skin studded with oil pores that contain essential oils full of d-limonene, which is substantial anitmicrobial properties.

Unfortunately, fruits like peppers don’t have much to protect them.The high sugar and water content of the fruit sets it up for disaster.  Also, green peppers contain 1-2% more oxygen in their air cavity than red peppers.  Although that doesn’t seem like much, it is just enough to prevent the anaerobic respiration that is preferred by bacteria.

So, unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that red peppers usually go soft in the fridge after about 2 days, while green peppers go soft in a week or two in the fridge.  I find that if you want to have red peppers to use in the kitchen, it is best to freeze them or eat them raw in a very short amount of time.

Sorry I don’t have a better answer.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Pruning Columnar Apple Trees?


“I bought columnar apple trees a few years ago. This year they had a few branches come off the main stem. Should I prune the branches, leaving only the main stem, or are branches good to keep around for more fruit? If I should prune them, is fall the best time or should I wait until spring. Thanks.

David in Denver”

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Hi David,

Thank you for contacting us in regards to your columnar apple tree. The
tree should have small branches coming off of it. These branches are called
“spurs” and are where your blossoms and fruits will form. After a spur has
produced for a few years, it will naturally die back and fall off. More
spurs will continue to grow as the tree matures and has the potential to
bear more fruit.

Columnar Apple Tree

I hope this information helps you out. If you have any other questions,
please feel free to ask.

Pear Scab on Miniature Pear


“We have a miniature Pear tree. The tree bears fruit very well but the fruit always has lots of small black spots. Some one told me that I should use a dormant spray for this problem. Would you give me advice on when to spray. We live in Massachusetts. Thanks much, Jim”

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Hi Jim,

Thank you for the question. It sounds like your miniature pear tree is suffering from Pear Scab (Venturia pirina).  Pear scab is a pretty serious disease and can cause serious losses on susceptible pear cultivars. The disease is more of a problem in European countries than here in the America. Although it is sometimes generically called black spot, pear scab resembles its cousin, apple scab (Venturia inaequalis) in nearly all respects. Pear cultivars differ in susceptibility to scab; however, cultivars resistant in one region of the country may not be resistant in another region.

pear-scabThe symptoms of pear scab are similar to apple scab; lesions on leaves and petioles begin as round, brownish spots that eventually become velvety in appearance. Within these lesions conidia (areas of spores) are produced. As the season progresses, small spots can be observed on the lower surface of the leaves. These are usually the result of late spring or early summer infections. Leaf infection of pear is not as common as apple scab on apple leaves.

Scab lesions on fruit occur on the sides of the fruit. As these lesions enlarge, they become dark brown and form large black areas as they coalesce. Lesions on immature fruit are small, circular, velvety spots. Darker, pinpoint spots develop as the fruit matures. Infected fruit often become irregular in shape.

Unlike apple scab, twig infections are common with pear scab. Early in the growing season, lesions on young shoots appear as brown, velvety spots. Later, these lesions become corky, canker-like areas. The following spring, pustules will develop within these overwintered lesions. These pustules produce spores (conidia) that perpetuate the spread of the disease.

The fungus overwinters in leaves on the ground and also as mycelium in infected twigs. Infection of pear foliage and fruit occurs under conditions similar to those required for infection of apple by the apple scab fungus. Ascospores are the major source of primary inoculum. Infection occurs in the spring around the green-tip stage of flower bud development. Ascospores in the overwintered leaves are released as the result of rain and are carried by air currents to young leaves and fruit. Ascospores continue to mature over a six to eight week period.

Conidia are the source of secondary inoculum and are produced in either the primary lesions initiated by ascospores or within pustules on infected twigs. Many secondary cycles may occur over a growing season. The length of the wetting period and temperature required for infection depend on the number of hours of continuous wetness and the temperature during this wetting period. The Mills chart for determining apple scab infection periods along with a leaf wetness recorder or hygrothermograph can provide the information for determining the infection periods for pear scab. Scab lesions may develop in as few as eight days after infection on young leaves and in as many as two months on older leaves. Fruit are also more susceptible when young; however, mature fruit can be infected if the length of wetting period is sufficiently long.

There are a number of cultural controls you can incorporate into your management strategy to combat Pear Scab:

–Sanitation: Remove mummified fruit from trees, and dropped fruit from the ground. These can harbor inoculums of fruit diseases, complicating later chemical control and increasing reliance on pesticides. Some insects are also fostered by allowing dropped fruit to remain, such as the apple maggot.

–Host vigor:  Maintain proper levels of host vigor. Nutrient-deficient trees are more prone to some diseases and insects; conversely, overly vigorous trees are more vulnerable to other pests.

–Pruning:  Improve spray coverage through good pruning practices. Trees should be “opened up” to allow spray and sunlight penetration. Prune out all dead and decaying branches because such wood may harbor insect and diseases. Remove all healthy prunings from the tree because these can be colonized by rot fungi and increase inoculum levels of some rot diseases.  Keep the height of the trees low to enable good coverage.

–Thinning:  It is important to thin fruit properly to provide good disease and insect control. Thin all tree fruits so that the mature fruits will not touch each other. Protectant pesticides cannot effectively cover fruits that touch each other; hence, thisprovides a place for insects and diseases to become established.

–Tree size:  It is almost impossible to produce high-quality fruit in the home orchard on old, large trees because the spray pressure commonly used is inadequate to force the pesticides to the tops of such trees. Therefore, old trees should be replaced with dwarf or semi-dwarf trees that are allowed to reach a height of no more than 12-15 feet.

–Ground cover management:  If a weed-free strip is maintained in the tree row, most young larvae die of desiccation as they penetrate the soil surface to reach the roots (unless the orchard is irrigated).

 

I hope this infromation helps you out. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask!

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Rust on Ben Sarek Currants


“I have brownish red rust on the leaves of my brand new Ben Sarek Black Currants. I just bought them from Jung Nursery in Stevens Point. What is wrong with them?

Thank you,

Timothy in Bloomer, WI”

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Hi Timothy,

Thank you for your post and photo of your Ben Sarek Black Currant. It looks like your plants is suffering from a condition caused by the Currant Blister Aphid. Feeding by the aphids cause  the leaves to blister and turn red. The plant will continue to grow unharmed as the aphid does not affect the crop of berries and will not overwinter here in Wisconsin. It is not necessary to treat currant blister aphid because it is just not something that survives in our area. My guess is that the stock nursery that they came from had aphids in their warehouse that were feeding on the dormant plants, and are likely long gone by now.

If you are a worrywart and wish to do something just in case there are still aphids on the plant, then spray with horticultural soap or a mild solution of washing up liquid to control the aphids.

I hope this information helps you out. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.