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Blackberry Diseases

(November 2010)

QuestionI live out on the north side of a small mountain in the Ferndale area.  I try to grow things on our ten acres, with modest success. I set out blackberries a couple of years ago, beside a small running creek, but not below water level. This summer, they developed some black spots and a couple of vines passed on, the remainder did produce a couple of quarts.  I am thinking they had  some kind of a rust perhaps, because I do have oaks and cedars in our area. Should I be applying some type of dust such as rotenone?


AnswerThere are several things that could be impacting your blackberries, but from the sound of it, it isn’t insects, so rotenone would not be affective.  I also don’t like dusts.  If you are going to spray, we need to properly identify the disease (with leaf samples next year) and then find the appropriate fungicide.  There is one disease called double blossom (or rosette) that affects blackberries that is not curable. It is common when we have wild blackberries nearby that can spread the disease.  It causes excessive thorniness on the stems and deformed almost double blossoms—thus the common name.  It can kill plants, but usually in a slow manner.  Pruning out infected canes helps.  There is a rust disease that affects blackberries that is controllable. It produces very bright orange spores that can be rubbed off.  Cedar apple rust does not affect blackberries, but does affect apples.  There are other leaf spotting diseases as well as stink bug damage to the fruits.  If you have the problems again next growing season, bring in a sample or take a picture and send it in so we can properly identify the problem before recommending a control.

(July 2007)

QuestionOur four rows of blackberries are about 6 years old, and we mulch them with composted wood chips the tree trimmers dump on our property.   Many of them have large nodular growths at the soil line on their stems which eventually will kill the plant.  I haven't found anything similar in the extension on line disease library.  We are going to pull all them out and start all over. What is the disease, does it remain in the soil (we are moving to a different planting location) and what treatment might prevent it?  Also, I've been hearing about new blackberry varieties out of U of A, do you have any suggestions as to which ones are best for home production?


AnswerTwo possibilities come to my mind-based on the description: Crown Gall which is a bacterial disease or Crown Borer which is an insect.  For an accurate diagnosis submit a section of the lower stem w/ roots and soil attached to your local extension office so they can send it to the disease diagnostic lab.  As for varieties of blackberries, here is a link to a chart of the Arkansas recommended variety:  I personally love the thornless ones, Apache is my favorite.

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