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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1133: XI International Rubus and Ribes Symposium

Evaluation of emerging interplant primocane thinning alternatives in an established 5-year-old 'Prime-Ark® 45' blackberry planting

Author:   M. Gaskell
Keywords:   primocane-fruiting, caneberry management
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1133.31
Primocane fruiting blackberry (Rubus subgenus Rubus Watson) cultivars are rapidly becoming important for fresh market fruit production along the California coast. These cultivars fruit on first year primocanes and can be mowed back to ground level each season for efficient fruiting and canopy management. Unlike primocane fruiting raspberry (Rubus idaeus) cultivars, the primocane blackberries as a group have less vigorous sucker production and for the initial 1-4 years, they maintain their initial plant spacing and the individual plant crowns can be identified each season at mow-down. Newly producing primocanes emerge from these crowns spaced at the initial plant spacing. Beginning in the 3th or 4th year, multiple shoots (“suckers”) will emerge between the initially established plant crowns. These sucker shoots increase cane density and will create more interplant competition and have the potential to adversely affect fruit quality and yield. During the 2014 season, we evaluated four thinning alternatives for controlling the density of emerging sucker shoots on a 5-year-old 'PrimeArk® 45' blackberry planting by removal of these plant shoots to ground level when suckers were 15 cm high or less. Treatments were: 1) no sucker removal (No); 2) removal of all suckers on one side of the row of established crowns (1×); 3) removal of all suckers on both sides of the row of established crowns (2×); or 4) removal of all suckers on either side of and between the original crowns (All). Treatments were arranged in a randomized complete block design with four replications. Harvest began July 14, 2014 and weekly marketable fruit yield over the following five weeks was consistently lower each week when all interplant suckers were removed. Other thinning treatments did not significantly affect berry yield. Early season sucker thinning treatments did not affect fruit size.

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