The spread in amateur gardens of a wonderful berry shrub - blackberry, is restrained, in part, by the presence of numerous thorns on its shoots. Therefore, the appearance in the 60s of the last century of thornless varieties greatly facilitated the cultivation of this crop.
Thornfrey, one of the first blackberry varieties to be completely thornless, was developed in 1966 by Maryland breeder Dr. Scott. Belongs to the dewdrop group, forms a bush with long, semi-creeping, hard shoots. Shoots cut at the base, up to 3 centimeters thick, reach 4-6 meters. Dark green - at the beginning, towards the end of the season they acquire a bluish tint. Leaves are compound, consist of 3-5 leaflets.
The bush is beautiful during flowering, when it is covered with rather large pink flowers up to 3 - 3.5 cm in diameter. So, in Central Russia, the beginning of flowering falls on the second half of June.
Various factors affect the ripening time of fruits: the beginning of the growing season, the weather conditions of a particular year, the state of the plant itself, whether it was planted in the sun or in the shade. Depending on this, the berries ripen by the end of August and by the end of September.
Now let's talk about the characteristics of berries. The yield of the variety is high. Up to 22 kg of aromatic berries are harvested from individual adult bushes. Dark purple, almost black, conical in shape, with a shiny skin, they weigh up to 5-7 grams. Ripening of berries is not simultaneous and the fruiting period can be extended to one and a half months.
The taste of the berries changes as they ripen: from sour to sweet and sour and freshly sweet when overripe. The berry cluster, sometimes numbering up to 30-60 berries, hangs under its own weight to the ground.
Among the advantages of the variety, in addition to the absence of thorns:
But, with all its advantages, the Thornfree variety has one significant drawback. It is quite difficult for an inexperienced gardener to catch the moment of the required ripeness of the berry, when it is still dense, but already has a pleasant sweet taste with a slight sourness. Unripe berry - sour, overripe - fresh sweet and very soft... The fact is that at different times of its ripeness, the berry looks the same. Subtle differences are not conspicuous, so a certain amount of experience is required when harvesting.
Winter hardiness is below average, the variety requires mandatory shelter for the winter. Without it, cultivation is possible only in the southern regions. There you need to take care of some shading of the plant, as it can suffer from sunburn. This variety is not suitable for the regions of the North-West of Russia.
Since the variety is late, due to the insufficiently warm and long summer, most of the crop will not ripen. Better to plant early varieties.
But, in principle, it all depends on the microclimate in a particular area.
Compared to other varieties, frost resistance is average, Thornfrey can withstand frosts down to -18 degrees. Thaws and strong spring winds cause the shoots to dry out, so do not rush to remove the winter shelter.
The agricultural technology of growing blackberries is in many ways similar to that of raspberries. Blackberries thrive on most soils except sandy... But, fertile loams are best suited for her. The best planting time for seedlings with an open root system is spring, grown in containers can be planted all season.
It is better to prepare the soil in the fall. If it is planned to plant several blackberry bushes, then it is best to dig a ditch up to 50 cm deep and wide and, placing a layer of well-rotted manure or compost up to 10 cm thick on the bottom, dig it up.
Fill the trench and, if necessary, close up the complete complex fertilizer with a pitchfork. Acidic soils are limy. During the winter, the earth will settle and be ready for planting.
Plants are placed at a distance from each other, depending on the variety and the subsequent method of its formation. For a powerful blackberry like the Thornfree variety, the one-sided forming system is especially suitable.... This garter method is simple and consists in the fact that annual shoots are directed in one direction, and last year's in the other. Therefore, the distance between plants should be about 3 - 4.5 meters.
After planting, the stems are cut, leaving shoots 25 cm high, and the root collar should be 2-3 cm below the soil level. The land around the plant is mulched with peat, sawdust, chopped branches to avoid moisture loss and the formation of a soil crust.
Thornfree bushes are grown on a trellis, with several rows of stretched wire between the supports. Its height usually does not exceed 1.8 meters, so that long lashes can be conveniently placed.
In the first year, the emerging young shoots are tied up closer to the left stake. The right side of the support remains free.
Next summer, new shoots will appear at the base of the bush, which are tied closer to the right stake. Blackberries bear fruit on lateral branches of last year's growths.
In mid-autumn, two-year-old branches that have yielded a crop are untied and pruned at soil level. And in the summer of next year, new shoots are tied up in the vacant place.
Caring for blackberry plants consists in shallow loosening, watering and feeding. It is especially important to regularly water the berry bushes in the first time after planting, as well as during flowering and ovary formation. An adult plant can do without watering, thanks to a well-developed root system. But you won't have to count on a big harvest. By the end of summer - beginning of autumn, after harvesting, watering is reduced, so that the shoots have time to lignify.
Before the onset of frost, water-charging watering is done and the lashes are removed from the supports. Since temperatures below -18 degrees will be critical for Thornfrey, it is advisable to cover it even before the snow falls.... Covering Thornfrey is no easy feat. Stubborn, thick shoots are difficult to fit on the ground. You can make a short pinching of the shoots during their formation. To get more flexible, thin side shoots, which will be easier to deal with, practice a short pinching of the forming lashes.
Some gardeners dig in a blackberry bush from one side and lay it on its side. Cover with spunbond or lutrasil from above. You can also add cardboard, dry foliage, spruce branches. Falling snow will provide additional protection. It is important to cover well the base of the bush, the so-called "head". It is this part that is often below the level of the snow cover.
Subsequently, blackberries are fed with organic and mineral fertilizers, alternating between them. In June, it is useful to water the plant with water infusions of mullein or chicken droppings.
Reproduction of Thornfree is not difficult. Like any variety of dewdrop, the tops of the shoots root well in it. To obtain a large number of cuttings, you can use the green cuttings method. So it is not that difficult to propagate this shrub.
Correct planting and compliance with all the rules of care contribute to the fact that blackberries are rarely exposed to diseases and pests. If both blackberries and raspberries grow in the same area, it is advisable to separate their plantings with a distance of 100 meters. Raspberries are carriers of a latent form of green mosaic that is harmful to blackberries.
Thornfree is resistant to common diseases such as anthracnose, rust and stem cancer... But, when signs of a disease appear, it is better to sacrifice part of the crop without resorting to the use of pesticides, replacing them with biofungicides.
When affected by a blackberry gall mite, the berries do not ripen, partially or completely remaining red. A very small pest hibernates on a bush, moving in the spring to flowers, then to fruits. Therefore, in the fall, they must cut out and destroy the old stems. After that, the bushes are treated with strong infusions of garlic or pyrethrum. In the spring, the treatment is repeated.
Half a century has passed since Thornfrey's appearance. Other varieties of thornless blackberry have appeared that surpass it in berry quality. At the same time, due to its yield and proven agricultural technology, it remains one of the leading varieties for commercial cultivation. And to "settle" him on his site or not, each gardener decides for himself.
Blackberry of this variety is a crop with creeping or erect shoots, with a two-year-old aboveground part. In the first year of the life of the bush, he actively grows young shoots, on which the laying of the future harvest takes place. Next year, inflorescences will appear on these shoots, berries will begin to ripen. After fruiting ends in autumn, the shoots die off for the winter, making room for new ones. The root system gives development to new young shoots that replace dead ones. Thus, every year there are 2 types of branches on the blackberry bush: those that grow and those that bear fruit.
Blackberry bushes are covered with lush dark green foliage, which takes on a crimson hue for the winter. One of the characteristic features of this variety is its large, pale pink flowers.
Blackberry thornfree (from American blackberry thornfree) was bred in 1966 for commercial use. She became the first of its kind shrub without thorns. In the beginning, the unique high-yielding bushes were used exclusively for business activities.
A few years later, ordinary gardeners tasted the excellent taste of berries, appreciated the ease of care. Thornless blackberries have become a popular planting in their plots. In addition to the delicate taste, the fruits have a number of beneficial properties for the human body, which is also a distinctive feature of the variety.
The plant does not require careful maintenance. It is enough to know the main characteristics of the shrub to provide it with comfortable conditions:
The blackberry bush has a number of undeniable advantages over other varieties:
An important feature that must be taken into account when harvesting is the level of ripeness of the blackberry. The ideal berry is dense, has a sweet taste with a slight sour note. Overripe fruits become watery, poorly kept in shape. An inexperienced gardener will not be able to determine by eye the right moment to collect them. During the ripening period, they retain approximately the same shade. For this reason, you should carefully monitor the degree of readiness of the berries for collection, further use.
To grow the largest harvest possible, experienced farmers advise:
The shape of the crown and the condition of the root system also affect the yield of the bush.
In order for all the benefits of the English blackberry to manifest in full, it is very important to plant the fruit bush correctly. Many factors matter here - the timing of planting, a good choice of location, crop rotation (good predecessors), the quality of the seedling, as well as the distance between individual plants.
Blackberries can be planted in early spring or mid-autumn.
It is important that the bush at this moment is at rest, so it will be easier for it to take root in a new place. Therefore, at the beginning of the season, you need to choose a time when the sun has already warmed up, but the buds did not have time to bloom, in the fall it is better to wait for the end of the leaf fall
Important! According to the observations of professional gardeners, trees and shrubs planted in autumn develop much better than the same varieties when planted in spring.
Nevertheless, in regions that are critical for Lochness frost resistance zones, preference should still be given to the spring period for planting blackberries, in all other cases autumn is the best time for such work.
Blackberries are very demanding on lighting. In the shade, the bush can develop normally, but the berries will form small and sour
Therefore, it is important to try to choose the most open place for the plant. At the same time, it is necessary to ensure that the fruit shrubs are protected from gusts of wind, even the most gusty and cold ones, so the ideal option is to place the bushes along the fence at the northern border of the site at a distance of 50-100 cm from the fence
For planting, a leveled place with a depth of groundwater of at least 1 m is best suited. The plant is not very demanding for the composition of the soil, it is much more important to choose “suitable” predecessors for it.
The standard rules for crop rotation for blackberries apply here:
Saplings of fruit trees and shrubs belonging to valuable and rare varieties, especially of imported origin, should be purchased exclusively from specialized nurseries with a good reputation.At the same time, it is highly desirable to observe the principle of zoning as much as possible, according to which a perennial crop will take root in a new place the better, the less distance it has covered from the point of "initial" cultivation.
Experts recommend giving preference to annual plants with a well-developed root system, formed by a root bud and two shoots about 5 mm thick each when choosing blackberry seedlings. Such seedlings are more likely to quickly adapt after transplanting and enter the fruiting phase earlier. For better rooting, before planting, a young bush can be soaked for several hours in a solution of "Kornevin", "Heteroauxin".
For planting blackberries, a pit about 40 cm deep is used, the diameter should be about the same. The top layer of earth extracted from the pit must be mixed with nutritional supplements per 1 bush:
We recommend that you find out when to remove the winter shelter from the blackberry.
A small amount of the prepared mixture is placed on the bottom of the pit, the rest is used in the process of burying the hole
It is important to ensure that the root bud of the seedling is deepened by 20–40 mm - this will protect the blackberry from both drying out and root rot. Immediately after planting, the bush should be watered abundantly and mulched.
The distance between individual blackberry bushes depends on the chosen method of processing the crop. If this process is planned to be carried out manually (in small summer cottages), a 2 × 2.5 m scheme can be used
However, for the use of agricultural machinery, it is important to provide space. In this case, it is permissible to keep from 2 to 2.5 m between the bushes, but the row spacing should be at least 3 m
Thornfree is a late-ripening dessert variety that is a powerful, semi-growing bush. Shoots are thick, rounded and thornless. Lateral branches without wax coating and with some pubescence. Fruiting begins in the second year of the shoot's life. Thornfrey blackberry leaves are large, double-serrate, slightly pubescent, dark green in color.
The berries are large, black, regular oval, suitable for freezing. They have large drupes and slight pubescence. The tasting score of berries was the highest at one time. Now experts rate Thornfrey berries at 4 points fresh, and after processing they give them 3 points.
Until the stage of maturity, the berries retain their gloss. Having reached maximum ripeness, they become dull, sweet, acquire a noticeable aroma, but their consistency becomes less dense, so the blackberries are harvested in a state of technical maturity. At this time, the berries are still sour and practically do not smell, but they perfectly retain their shape.
With proper care, 2 buckets of berries can be harvested from one blackberry bush
Thornfree blackberries are very fruitful. With proper care, enough sunlight and moisture, up to 20 kilograms of berries are harvested from one bush per season.
|Ripening time||Aug. Sept|
|Average yield||77.8 c / ha|
|Berry weight||4.5-5.0 g|
|Bush height||3-5 m|
|Features of the variety||Resistant to drought and heat |
Weakly resistant to frost
|Diseases||Gray rot of berries, chlorosis of leaves|
Providing optimal growing conditions for blackberries is easy enough. Firstly, so that the shoots do not intertwine with each other, they should be tied to a trellis. Secondly, all two-year-old branches that have yielded crops in the current year must be cut at the root in the fall, since they will no longer bring a crop.
In addition, with the onset of the first autumn frosts, all shoots must be untied from the supports, bent to the ground, fixed on the ground and covered with spruce branches. This will give the plants the protection they need from frost.
The video provides guidelines for planting and growing Thornfree Blackberries.