Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Natchez overcropping?

Rows of Natchez (left) and Ouachita (right) blackberries, June 2012.
    As blackberries are ripening across the SEUS, some questions about  Natchez are 'cropping' up. In the picture above, the two rows look dramatically different, in particular, here are a few things to note:
    - Has lots of red fruit, very few leaves on the floricanes and essentially no primocanes. 
    - Abundant fruit (harder to see),  abundant leaves on floricanes and primocanes are emerging above the canopy. 

    Here are some of my thoughts and things you need to think about.
    - Leaves are the primary source of food (sugars/carbohydrates) for plants   
    - If there are not enough leaves, the fruit will not have the sugars/carbs it needs to fully ripen. (Viticulturalists long ago determined a certain number of leaves are needed to ripen a cluster of grapes)
    - Natchez produces very large fruit and plants can produce large yields.
    - However, sometimes it makes TOO much fruit. 
    - This could be alleviated with special pruning in the dormant season? 
    - Although no one has done any studies that I know of, one suggestion for next year is to make sure that when you prune laterals in the winter, you do not leave them too long. We recommend 12-18, so for Natchez, so, I would suggest you try to prune to the shorter part of that recommendation. That will reduce your crop load.
    What will happen to the fruit in the picture above? Only time will tell, but likely the fruit will not be able to ripen fully, what does get ripe will be not very sweet (tart?). AND the crop next year may be reduced because there are no primocanes emerging.
    Ouachita looks great and should produce a nice crop. 

1 comment:

  1. That is exactly what has happened with the blackberries in my small winemaking patch. Thank you for the information. Thought i had an amazing crop due to my over-zealous pruning technique.i learn more every year.