Submitted to: Acta Horticulturae
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: August 17, 2011
Publication Date: May 8, 2012
Citation: Strik, B.C., Finn, C.E. 2012. Blackberry production systems – A worldwide perspective. Acta Horticulturae. 946:341-347.
Interpretive Summary: Blackberry production and consumption around the world has increased dramatically in the past 10 years. This manuscript gives and overview of production areas, types of cultivars grown, production systems used and trends in horticultural management and cultivar development as we look to the future for blackberries around the world.
Three types of blackberry are grown worldwide: the erect, semi-erect, and trailing. All types can be grown for fresh and processed markets although the trailing types with their small seeds size and aromatic flavors are considered superior for processed markets. The largest production regions are Mexico, Europe, and the United States. Trailing blackberries are generally trained to a two- to three-wire trellis. Primocanes are either carefully managed under the canopy for every-year production or are left unmanaged in the on-year of alternate year (AY) production systems. AY production systems are most common in Oregon where they are used to maximize cold tolerance and minimize cane disease. Primocane suppression techniques can be used to maximize machine-harvest efficiency, while training techniques can be utilized to increase yield and cold hardiness. In general, erect blackberries are grown in hand-harvested fresh market production systems. Type of trellis used, the extent of cane training, and the degree of main cane tipping and the amount and frequency of branch cane shortening varies with region. In Mexico, specialized production systems, using chemical defoliants, pruning, and growth regulators, have been developed to extend the season for erect cultivars such as Tupy. Semi-erects are generally grown on a more elaborate trellis. Depending on production region, primocanes may be summer pruned to ~ 1.7 or ~ 0.5 m to encourage branching; management of branches differs among regions. Annual-fruiting, erects, a relatively recent addition to the blackberries available, are being trialed by commercial growers in many production regions. Early evidence indicates this type of blackberry may offer advantages for out-of-season production in warmer climates provided plantings are pruned and managed well. As demand for blackberries continues to increase, new cultivars are being developed including primocane- or annual-fruiting, erect types and hybrids between erect, semi-erect, and trailing types that require modifications in the traditional pruning and training systems.