Bramble Production Guide

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Types of brambles Both blackberries and raspberries are grouped by these plant characteristics:

  1. growth habit,
  2. fruiting habit (primocane or floricane),
  3. presence or absence of thorns (thorny or thornless), and
  4. fruit color (raspberries only).

Growth habit. Bramble crops essentially display three growth habits: (1) erect, (2) semi-erect, or (3) trailing. Growth habit determines the type of trellis support the canes require. In some regions, erect types of both raspberries and blackberries do not require trellis support. In the southern U.S., however, blackberries and raspberries benefit from a trellis for commercial production.
Fruiting habit. Bramble crops produce fruit in either of two ways:
Floricane-fruiting types produce fruit canes that are two years old. Fruit is produced on the lateral branches that emerge from axillary buds (the buds that occur at the leaf axil) on a second-year cane. After the floricane-fruiting types have produced their crop, the canes die and must be removed to make room for new canes that arise from the root system.
Primocane-fruiting types produce fruit at the terminal portions of the canes (the buds produced at the tips of stems) in the first year. This differs from floricane-fruiting types, which do not produce until their second year. Primocane-fruiting types can also produce fruit on canes in the second year. Although this fruit often ripens earlier than the traditional floricane-fruiting crop, yields are low and primocane types are usually grown only for the primocane crop. Several raspberry primocane-fruiting cultivars have excellent fruit quality and are recommended for planting in high elevation regions in the southern U.S. Primocane-fruiting blackberries are available as well, but fruit quality on them is poor and yields are low. They are not recommended for the southern U.S. at this time.
Thorn habit. Thorny and thornless cultivars are available of both primocane- and floricane-fruiting types of raspberries and blackberries. Most commercial blackberry growers plant thornless cultivars because they are easier to manage. At this writing in May 2008, most raspberry cultivars adapted to the southern U.S. have thorns, but the thorns are not as large as blackberry thorns.
Fruit color (raspberries only). Raspberries can produce red, yellow, purple, or black fruits. Red raspberries are by far the most common type and, in general, the most widely adapted for commercial production. Yellow and purple raspberries are not recommended for commercial production because available cultivars are highly perishable and do not produce high yields. Black raspberries do well in cooler parts of the region and may have niche markets. However, plantings of black raspberries are generally short-lived because current cultivars are susceptible to viruses.

Gina E. Fernandez
Gerard Krewer
North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service