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Where space permits, growing quality fruits can be most rewarding. It is important that you understand the cultural requirements of each kind of fruit and that you plant only those varieties that are recommended for your area. Your county Agricultural Extension Agent should have a recommended list of varieties.

Tree Fruits APPLES

Early settlers in the Upper Midwest quickly found out that the varieties of apples they had grown in the East were not hardy. Rather than giving up, they started to plant apple seeds and selected the most promising seedlings for propagation. State universities in the area soon started fruit-breeding programs to develop varieties adapted to the climate. Today we have many good varieties from which to choose, with ripening dates extending from July through October.

The University of Minnesota at its Fruit Breeding Farm, now called the Horticultural Research Center, located near Excelsior, has introduced more than 80 varieties of fruits, 18 of which are apples. Each grower has his or her favorite varieties. Of the summer varieties, I like 'Mantet', 'Oriole', and 'State Fair'. 'Red Baron' and 'Sweet Sixteen' are good fall varieties. For winter, I prefer 'Honeygold', 'Haralson', 'Regent', and 'Fireside'.

Apples grow best on a moisture-retentive clay loam soil that is well-drained. They do not do well on a sandy soil that has a gravelly subsoil, especially in the northern part of our region. Spring frosts are another potential problem. Avoid low areas that are susceptible to late spring frosts.

The gardener must decide whether to plant standard trees grafted on seedling roots ordwarf trees grafted on selected rootstocks that are vegetatively propagated. There are distinct advantages in growing dwarf trees. They require less room, are easier to prune, spray, and harvest, and the quantity of fruits produced more nearly fits the needs of the average family. However, the rootstocks of dwarf trees are not as hardy as seedling roots grown from hardy varieties. Most of our dwarf apple trees are grown on Mailing root-stocks that are of English origin. Trees must be mulched with hay or straw each fall to protect the roots from winter injury. Even with winter protection, the trees tend to be shorter lived than the same varieties on seedling roots.

Purchase your apple trees from a reputable nursery, preferably in your own neighborhood. The nursery will have adapted varieties and will replace any trees that fail to grow. Bare root trees that are dormant should be planted as soon as the frost is out of the ground and the soil has had a chance to dry out enough to dig the planting hole. Potted trees can be planted later in the spring. There is little advantage in planting trees that are more than 5 to 7 feet tall.

Spacing of the trees is important. Standard trees should be spaced 30 feet apart. Dwarf trees can be planted from 10 to 20 feet apart depending on the rootstock used. Mailing No. 9 produces a tree that grows only about 8 to 10 feet tall and wide. Mailing No. 7 produces a semi-dwarf tree that grows to a height of 12 to 15 feet with a comparable spread. The area between the trees should be in grass that is kept mowed.

Apple trees should be pruned at planting time to help balance the loss of roots. In pruning, select wide-angled branches that are spaced 6 to 8 inches apart for the permanent framework. The branches that are removed should be cut close to the main stem. Those that are left should be shortened by cutting back to an outward-pointing bud.

Apple trees that are grown as lawn specimens require no fertilizer other than that used to maintain the lawn if they have a healthy green color and if new growth is 18 inches or more. If growth is not satisfactory, use a fertilizer high in nitrogen about May 1. The amount to be used depends on the size of the tree. For a fertilizer containing 10 percent nitrogen, use about a pound for each inch in diameter of the trunk. Overfertilization should be avoided because it increases susceptibility to fire blight. Broadcast the fertilizer under the tips of the branches; this is where the feeding roots are.

Apple trees should be pruned regularly. It is much better to remove a little wood each year than to overprune a neglected tree. In pruning, continue to select wide-angled branches for the permanent framework. Cut off branches that would form a narrow crotch, and remove any dead wood. Branches that cross and rub on each other or that grow toward the center of the tree should also be removed, as well as water sprouts that grow straight up. When the trees start to bear fruit, pruning will consist of thinning them to allow light to enter and to facilitate spraying and harvesting. Late winter is the best time to prune.

To protect individual trees from injury by mice, take a cylinder of quarter-inch hardware cloth that is at least 18 inches tall and push it into the soil an inch or more so mice will not get under it. Purchasing hardware cloth is much cheaper than replacing trees that have been girdled by mice.

A knowledge of disease and insect problems is a must. The major disease problems are apple scab, fire blight, and cedar-apple rust. Apple scab is a fungus disease that causes sooty black spots on the leaves and fruits. It can be controlled with fungicides such as captan. Fire blight is a bacterial disease that leads to the sudden death of branches, causing the leaves to turn black as if scorched by fire. The disease may be limited to branch tips, or it can spread back into older wood. This problem is difficult to control. Streptomycin may help prevent infection, but usually the disease is well established before it is detected and treated. Vigorous new growth is most susceptible. Some varieties such as Regent, are more susceptible than others. The best control is to avoid overfertilization that would produce succulent new growth. Cedar-apple rust spreads from the red cedar to the apple and then back to the red cedar. Infection on the apple occurs in late May following spring rains. At that time, the hard brown galls on the cedar trees send out orange-colored, gelatinous tendrils that produce spores that are carried by wind and rain to the apple trees. Avoid planting varieties like 'Beacon' and 'Wealthy' that are very susceptible to cedar-apple rust. The disease can be controlled by including Ferbam or Zineb in the first two cover sprays after petal fall. The most common insect pests are the apple maggot, curculio, and codling moth. Aphids can be a problem, especially on new growth. Red spiders are often a problem in warm dry weather.

A regular spray program is essential for controlling diseases and pests. I spray my apple trees once a week, starting right after petal fall and continuing until harvest. Thorough coverage is just as important as frequency of spraying. You can either use a general purpose fruit spray or mix your own, using those chemicals that are known to control specific seasonal problems. Your county Agricultural Extension Office should have a home fruit spray guide that will tell you what chemicals to use. Unless you are willing to follow through on a complete spray program, it would be best not to plant apples. Few edible fruits are ever produced on unsprayed trees.


Crabapples are similar to apples except their fruits are smaller, usually two inches in diameter or less. Most crabapple varieties are grown for their flowers and to attract birds to the yard. A few are grown for their edible fruits which are used in making jellies and apple sauce. 'Dolgo' is a favorite crabapple for jelly. 'Rescue' and 'Chestnut' are good to eat right off the tree, 'Chestnut' being a favorite for school lunches. 'Whitney' and 'Centennial' make apple pickles.

Crabapples are generally hardier and can be grown farther north than apples. They have the same cultural requirements. Do not plant more of the large-fruited crabapples than you can use. The fruits can be messy when they drop to the ground.


There are few good pear varieties that can be grown in the Upper Midwest. 'Parker' and 'Mendel' are the most dependable varieties. 'Luscious' is a South Dakota variety of good quality that was introduced about 10 years ago. There have been conflicting reports on its hardiness. I lost a tree due to winter injury, but I am trying to grow another one. 'Bartlett' is too tender for most of the area but may be hardy enough for protected sites in the southern portion.

Pears are subject to the same insect and disease problems that affect the apple. Cultural requirements are identical.


The large-fruited apricots such as 'Moorpark', grown commercially in the Pacific Northwest, are not hardy. The 'Manchurian' apricot and some of its hybrids are sufficiently hardy to warrant planting. 'Moongold' and 'Sungold', which were introduced by the University of Minnesota, were selected from a seedling population grown from a cross between 'Superb' and 'Manchu', selections of the 'Manchurian' apricot, Prunus armeniaca var. mandshurica. 'Scout' was introduced by the Morden, Manitoba Experiment Station. Two or more varieties should be planted to ensure cross-pollination.

Flower buds can be injured by extremely low winter temperatures and by late spring frosts. These apricots bloom quite early, and cold wet weather at blossom time can prevent insect pollination. For these reasons, a crop will not be produced every year. The fruits are of excellent quality for preserves and canning, and the trees are quite ornamental. These two pluses help compensate for the years when there will be no fruit.

Like all of the stone fruits, apricots prefer clean cultivation to sod. If the trees are grown in sod, it will help to mulch heavily around the trees to smother grasses and weeds. Few insect and disease problems affect apricots. The plum curculio can deform the fruits, and brown rot, a fungus disease, can spoil the ripening fruits in wet weather. Two or three sprays with a general purpose fruit spray are generally sufficient to produce reasonably clean fruits.


Sweet cherries are not dependably hardy. Pie cherries, Prunus cerasus, can be grown successfully throughout most of the region. 'Montmorency' and 'Early Richmond', popular varieties in eastern Wisconsin and Michigan, can be grown, but they are susceptible to leaf spot. 'North Star' and 'Meteor' were introduced by the University of Minnesota and are hardy in all but the most northern parts of our area. 'Mesabi' was introduced by Farmers Seed and Nursery Company of Faribault, Minnesota and may be even hardier.

All the pie cherries are eagerly eaten by birds. As soon as the fruits turn red, the birds move in for a feast. The best way to protect the trees from damage by birds is to cover them with bird netting before the fruits turn red. 'North Star' is a smaller tree than either 'Meteor' or 'Mesabi' and is easier to cover.

The trees should be either clean cultivated or heavily mulched. Several applications of a general purpose fruit spray following petal fall should control the curculio, the main insect pest affecting cherries.

The Nanking cherry, Prunus tomentosa, is more of a bush than a tree. It does produce in early July small, edible fruits that make an excellent jelly or a refreshing drink from the crushed fruits. Birds are also fond of the Nanking cherries, and a bird netting must be used if you have only a few plants.


In the Upper Midwest, there are two native species of plum, the American plum {Prunus americana) and the Canada plum [Prunus nigra). Both produce edible fruits that make excellent preserves. The flesh around the pit is sometimes bitter, and sauce made from the fruits has a bitter taste.

Most of the plums grown in the area are of hybrid origin. The Japanese plum {Prunus salicina) has been crossed with our native plums. 'La Crescent', 'Underwood', 'Pipestone', 'Redglow', and

'Superior', listed in order of their maturity, are the most popular varieties. These can neither self-pollinate nor cross-pollinate. A special pollinizer variety must be planted. 'South Dakota', a large-fruited selection of the American plum, and Toka, a hybrid of different origin, are the pollinizers recommended. Wild plums will also pollinate the hybrid plums.

Another species of plum that is sometimes planted in the North is the European plum (Prunus domestica). Several named cultivars such as 'Mount Royal', 'Dietz', and the 'Russian Green Gate' are sufficiently hardy to be grown in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and southward. 'Mount Royal' is excellent whether eaten fresh or canned. 'Stanley' is the largest of these European plums that is sometimes planted, but I have not found it to be as hardy as 'Mount Royal'. The fruit of 'Dietz' is rather small but of good quality. All the European plums are self-fruitful.

Like other stone fruits, plums do best when clean cultivated. The trees should be spaced about 20 feet apart. If the trees are grown in sod, a mulch will be needed under them to smother competition from grasses and weeds and more nitrogen will be required to maintain vegetative vigor.

Plum curculio, plum gouger, aphids, and stem borers are the chief insect pests of the plum. Leaf spot and brown rot are the main diseases. Plum pockets, a fungus disease, often causes bladdery growths on the leaves and inflated, bladderlike fruits on wild plums. It is necessary to follow a regular spray schedule to produce good plums.


Cherry plums are hybrids of the native sandcherry [Prunus besseyi) and one of the plums. The resulting plants are intermediate in size and more bushlike than treelike. Used mainly for preserves, the fruits also are intermediate in size, and their flesh usually is purplish. Cherry plums are more popular in areas that are too dry for plums. Plants are usually short-lived. Numerous varieties have been introduced, but 'Opata' and 'Sapalta' are the only ones now recommended. Like the hybrid plums, they are self-sterile, and a special pollinizer like 'Compass' must be planted. Cherry plums should be clean cultivated and spaced 15 feet apart. They have the same insect and disease problems as plums.


Peaches are not planted except in the very southern part of the area covered by this book. They have been tried farther north but have not proved sufficiently hardy. Trees may live for a few years and may occasionally produce a few fruits, but after the first crop they usually die. Flower buds on most varieties are killed at about —15°F., and most winters in the North have considerably colder temperatures. Some of the dwarf varieties such as 'Reliance' might be grown in a container and moved into an unheated building for winter, but it would be cheaper to buy peaches in the grocery store.

Small Fruits

Most gardeners can find room for a few small fruits. Strawberries and raspberries provide an excellent return for the space used. A few currants and gooseberries can be planted in the shrub border and serve a dual purpose. Grapes should be grown on a trellis and can serve as a privacy fence.


Strawberries do well in all parts of the area and can be grown on most types of soil. They are susceptible to iron chlorosis and should not be planted in alkaline soils or in soil that is wet and poorly drained. Sandy soils and heavy clay soils are improved by adding liberal quantities of organic matter.

Since strawberries are usually grown for several years before replanting, it is best to plant them along one side of the vegetable garden. They also can be planted between young fruit trees. The soil should be clean cultivated for at least a year prior to planting to reduce the weed problem and the danger of damage by white grubs. Before planting, work 3 to 4 bushels of well-rotted manure or compost and one pound of a 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet into the soil. This will improve the moisture-holding capacity of sandy soils, improve the aeration of clay soils, and provide the plant nutrients for a healthy growth.

Many varieties of strawberries are on the market. Their performance varies on different types of soil. For example, 'Northland' has been the top yielder in our trials at Grand Rapids but has been a very inferior variety in my garden. You should try several varieties to find out which ones do best on your soil. Select only healthy, disease-free plants. The following are recommended varieties of June-bearing strawberries: 'Veestar', 'Cyclone', 'Redcoat, 'Trumpeter', 'Northland', 'Sparkle', and 'Bounty'. New varieties come on the market every year. I have had excellent results with the variety 'Crimson King', introduced by Marion Hagerstrom of Enfield, Minnesota. This is a patented variety sold exclusively by Stark's Nursery. There are fewer everbearing varieties from which to choose. 'Fort Laramie', 'Ogallala', 'Ozark Beauty', and 'Red Miracle' are varieties that you might try. 'Fort Laramie' has done poorly for me, but others who have tried it have had good success. 'Red Miracle' has produced well for me, but it is susceptible to leaf spot.

June-bearing varieties are planted in a matted row, whereas everbearing varieites are usually grown using the hill system. In the matted row, plants are generally spaced 2 feet apart in the row, with the rows 4 to 5 feet apart. In the hill system, plants are spaced from a foot to 18 inches apart in triple rows, with a wider picking aisle between every 3 rows. In the matted row, the first runner plants are allowed to grow until the desired density and width of row are achieved. Late-formed runner plants are usually removed by cultivation. Even better results will be obtained if the runner plants are hand spaced, but few gardeners do this. Ideally, the runner plants should not be spaced closer than about 6 inches, and the rows should not be allowed to get wider than 18 to 24 inches. In the hill system, all runners are removed as they form. If you replant using your own plants, you will want to allow runners to form at one end of the row.

Freshly dug plants should be planted immediately. Many commercial plant growers dig their plants in the fall and store them over the winter in cold storage. Such plants should be dormant when planted. The depth of planting is very important. With a spade, put a slit in the soil. Place the strawberry plant in the opened slit, with the roots fanned out. Hold the plant in place as you remove the spade; the crown should be even with the soil surface.

Firm the soil by pressing it with your foot. With a little practice, you can plant strawberries rapidly and accurately using this method. After planting, water each plant using at least a cup of water.

Remove all flowers as they appear. Allowing fruits to develop reduces the vigor of the mother plants and slows runner formation. The fruits, if allowed to develop, will be small and of inferior quality. With everbearing varieties, flowers are not removed after July 1 to allow a fall crop to develop. Both June-bearing and everbearing varieties should be kept clean cultivated and weed-free the first year after planting.

All strawberry varieties need winter protection. Flower buds form in the fall of the year, and without a mulch they can be injured when the temperature falls below 20°F. Use clean straw or marsh hay and apply it over the rows to a depth of 2 to 3 inches. The exact time to apply the mulch varies with the season and the area. A few light frosts are necessary to harden the plants, but the mulch should be on before the temperature drops below 20°F. The first week in November will be about right most years. The mulch should be left on as late in the spring as possible to delay bloom until the danger of frost has past. After about the middle of April, examine the plants under the mulch. If the leaves have started to turn yellow, remove the mulch immediately. Place the mulch between the rows. This aids in weed control and protects the pickers, especially in wet weather.

As the berries of June-bearing plants start to ripen, it is important to harvest every other day and to pick all the ripe fruits. Overripe berries tend to get moldy and are of inferior quality. Everbearing varieties need not be picked as often, especially in the fall when the weather is cooler.

Strawberries need plenty of water. A dry period during harvest can greatly reduce the crop. Add the equivalent of an inch of rainfall per week. A sprinkler type of irrigation works well.

After harvest, the June-bearing planting must be either thoroughly renovated or plowed under. Some gardeners prefer to start a new planting each spring and harvest only a single crop. Others like to renovate their old plantings and grow two or even three successive crops. To renovate, remove the coarse mulch material and narrow the rows to no more than a foot wide. This can be done with a rotovator or with a hoe or spade. Remove all old mother plants from the row, leaving only vigorous young plants. Some growers go over the row with a rotary lawn mower to cut any weeds and remove diseased strawberry leaves before narrowing the row. This is a good practice if there is much leaf spot on the foliage. After renovation, side-dress with a complete fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 at the rate of one pound per 25 feet of row. Continue to cultivate and space runner plants as you would in a new planting.

Everbearing strawberries are usually replanted every two years. I start a new planting every spring. This gives me a fall crop from the new planting and a spring and fall crop on the second-year planting.

Strawberries have their share of disease and insect problems. At least three leaf diseases occur: leaf spot with definite lesions, leaf scorch with small dark purple spots, and leaf blight with larger red to brown spots bordered with purple. Sanitation and spraying with captan are recommended controls.

Fruit rots can be a problem, especially in wet weather. These fruit rots can be prevented with captan sprays at weekly intervals, starting before the plants bloom.

White grubs feed on the roots, spider mites can be a problem in hot, dry weather, the strawberry weevil girdles the flower stem, and the tarnished plant bug causes a distortion of the fruits resulting in nubbins. Appropriate control measures must be used to control these insects. A prebloom application of a general purpose fruit spray helps reduce these insect problems. White grub damage can be reduced by planting on weed-free soil. Kelthane is a good control for spider mites.


Raspberry fruits come in a variety of colors: red, purple, black, and yellow. Red raspberries are the most popular and can be grown throughout the area. 'Latham' and 'Boyne' are the most popular varieties of the July-fruiting types. 'Boyne' is hardier than 'Latham' and can be grown without winter protection. Heritage is the best of the fall-fruiting varieties. 'Fall Gold' is the most popular of the yellow raspberries. Its culture is similar to that for 'Heritage'.

Purple and black raspberries are less hardy and not grown as frequently as the red. Winter protection is advised for most varieties. Amethyst is an excellent purple raspberry that produces very large fruits. It sends up new canes from near the base of the old plants. Its culture is the same as for red raspberries. Black raspberries are susceptible to anthracnose, a disease that can be spread to red varieties. If planted, they should be grown at some distance from the red. 'Black Hawk' and 'Bristol' are popular varieties.

Raspberries can be grown on almost any well-drained soil. They dislike wet soils. For best results, plant on soils that have been under clean cultivation to avoid problems with perennial weeds such as quackgrass and Canadian thistles. Like strawberries, they do best in soils high in organic matter. Be prepared to water frequently if your soil is sandy. The same soil preparation as recommended for strawberries will suffice for raspberries.

Spring is the best time to plant raspberries. Purchase disease-free, certified plants from a reputable grower or nursery. Getting plants from a neighbor can prove very costly if these plants have virus. Plant your raspberries as soon as they arrive and as early in the spring as the soil can be worked. I like to use the slit method of planting which was described in the section on strawberries. Set the plants at the same depth as they were when growing in the nursery. Firm the soil around the roots and water if the soil is dry. Space the plants about 30 inches apart in rows that are 8 feet apart. After planting, cut the tops back to about 10 inches. This helps force new canes from the adventitious buds that form on the roots.

Plants should be clean cultivated throughout the life of the planting. This is necessary to control weeds and to prevent sucker plants from growing between the rows. If you do not cultivate, you will soon end up with a "patch" of crowded plants that will produce few quality berries. The crowded condition will also increase disease problems. If you grow your plants in a hedge row, limit the width of the row to no more than 18 inches. Frequent, shallow cultivation will keep the weeds down and remove unwanted canes without injuring the roots. Do not cultivate late in the summer to allow time for the canes to harden before winter. Keep the rows clean and free of weeds by hoeing.

Since a raspberry planting should remain productive for at least

10 years, soil fertility must be maintained to produce vigorous, high-yielding canes. I use a 10-10-10 fertilizer about May 1 of each year, at the rate of one pound per 10 feet of row.

Training and pruning are essential to high yields of quality berries. The staked-hill and the wire trellis are the two most popular methods of training. In the staked-hill, a stake about 2 inches in diameter and 7 feet long is driven into the ground at regular intervals along the row. I have used a spacing of about 30 inches between stakes. If you cross-cultivate, the spacing between stakes will need to be at least 4 feet. With the wire trellis system, posts are spaced about a rod apart. I have used two wires stretched between the posts at 30 and 48 inches above the ground; some growers prefer two wires at about 42 inches. Canes are trained between these two wires, and the wires are tied at intervals to support the canes. I tie my canes in bundles to both wires using binder twine. I do this early in the spring before new growth appears. With the staked-hill system, I tie the canes tightly to the stakes using binder twine.

In pruning, it is important to limit the number of canes that develop. This number can vary depending on the vigor of the plants. In the staked-hill system, I leave five to seven canes per hill. In the wire trellis-hedgerow system, I leave about two canes per foot of row. I naturally select the strongest canes and cut off all other canes at ground level. Pruning back all canes to a uniform height of m to 5 feet presents a neat appearance and may help force lateral branching. The only other pruning that is required is to remove old canes in August after the last of the July crop has been harvested. These canes will die anyway at the end of the growing season, and the sooner they are removed the better.

Pruning of fall-fruiting varieties such as Heritage differs because of fall-fruiting on the tips of new canes. Some growers sacrifice the July crop by cutting all the canes back to the ground in the spring. Others remove the branched tips that fruited the previous fall in early spring. A July crop will be produced on lateral branches. After it has been harvested, all the old canes should be removed and the new canes thinned to the desired number. I like to tie the new canes individually to the upper wire of my two-wire trellis. This supports the canes and makes the fall harvest easy. Unsupported canes tend to bend over, and their berries get splashed with mud whenever it rains. 'Fall Gold' is trained and pruned in the same way as 'Heritage'.

Black raspberries are either supported on a wire trellis or trained as a bush. As with red raspberries, individual canes live for two years. Canes should be removed after fruiting. With the trellis system, new canes are protected over the winter and tied to the trellis in the spring. In the bush system, new canes are pruned back when they are about 24 to 30 inches tall. This forces lateral branching, and a bushlike plant develops. The following spring cut back each of the lateral branches to 8 inches. Berries will be produced on the branches that develop.

For all varieties of raspberries except 'Boyne', some form of winter protection is advisable. The safest method of winter protection is as follows: In late October, thin the canes to the desired number. Dig a trench up to the base of the plants that is long enough to accommodate the canes. Then tie the canes in a bundle, bend them over into the trench, and cover them with soil. In November add a straw mulch. In the spring the process is reversed and the canes are tied to stakes or a trellis.

Raspberries suffer from both fungus and virus diseases. Anthrac-nose, a spotting of the canes and leaves, and spur blight, a discoloration of the stem near the lower, lateral buds, are the common fungus diseases. Sanitation and proper training that allows good circulation of air will usually keep these diseases under control. In severe cases it may be necessary to spray with captan. Mosaic, a virus disease, causes a mottling of the leaves and a stunting of the plants. There is no cure. Roguing out diseased plants will check the spread of the disease.

Insect pests include cane borers that cause a sudden wilting of affected canes, the sawfly that skeletonizes the leaves, and the sap beetle that sucks the juice from overripe fruits. Canes affected by the borer should be cut out and destroyed. Spraying canes with an allpurpose spray or Sevin right before they blossom should control the sawfly larvae and the sap beetle. If spider mites are a problem, use Kelthane.

Home Fruit Growing 73 BLACKBERRIES

Although blackberries are native in the area, cultivated blackberries must have winter protection to fruit consistently. In nature, blackberries usually grow among shrubs and trees and generally have ample snow cover. But in the garden, this snow cover cannot be depended on to provide protection. The thorny branches of older varieties made winter protection an unpleasant task. Today several thornless varieties exist that are relatively easy to protect over the winter. My wife and I have been growing 'Thorn Free' for several years, with rewarding results. We pick about 20 quarts from two plants trained on a two-wire trellis. In late October, we remove all the old canes and thin the new canes so that from three to five canes remain on each plant. Then we tie the canes in a bundle and bury them in a trench. In November we add a mulch of straw. We have not had any insect or disease problems with these blackberries.

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