Site selection and soil preparation
Blackberries and raspberries have similar soil requirements and can grow in a wide range of soil types, but do best in well drained, fertile soil with a slightly acidic ph between 5.6 and 7.0. Avoid planting in areas that drains poorly as brambles, especially raspberries are susceptible to root rot. A raised bed, about 25cm high can work well as an alternative. A planting site higher than the surrounding area can also provide better air circulation and water drainage which will reduce disease and insect problems. Avoid plantations where tomatoes, potatoes, peppers or eggplants were planted the past 5 years as they could host diseases such as Verticillium wilt.
Spacing and plants per hectare
|0.6 -1.0m between plants with a row spacing of 2.0-3.5m
|0.5 -1.0m between plants with a row spacing of 2.5-3.0m
The spacing between rows depends on the type of berry and the trellis system used.
Approximately 6000 to 8000 plants per hectare can be planted. Most berry producers plant 60cm apart in the row with a row spacing of 2.2m which require a plant density of 7500 plants per hectare.
A trellis system must be used with trailing blackberry varieties.
A trellis or wire system can also be used to keep canes and fruit from touching the ground. This practice reduces wind breakage, assists with harvesting, nutrient management and cultivation. Some erect blackberry varieties can be grown without any support, but semi-erect varieties would benefit from support.
Most blackberry producers use a simple wire system which is attached to the poles of the net system although some use a T-trellis system which support the wider spreading canes at the top. See examples below :
Growing medium and pots/grow bags
Both raspberry and blackberry plants can be container grown in different size pots or grow bags. Most of the blackberry cultivars become large plants and should preferably be planted in a 20L to 25L pot/bag. The raspberry plants can be grown in smaller 8L tot 12L pots/bags. If bags are used, make sure to use a thickness of at least 200 microns, preferably white. Apart from plant material and technical assistance, Berries for Africa can also supply various pots/bags as well as different types of growing medium. The raspberry and blackberry plants do not need to grow in expensive Canadian or Lithuanian peat moss and can rather be grown in a less expensive substrate such as a good quality coco coir. It is critical that the coco coir is buffered and washed before the plants are planted into the growing medium. We have tested various coco blends, recipes, pots and bags from different reputable suppliers and have standardized on the best and most suitable ones. Contact Berries For Africa for more information on pricing and options.
For larger operations, it is critical to have a complete cold chain process from post harvesting processes such as extracting the heat and to keep the fruit cool, sorting, quality checking and packaging to the delivery point. Usually cold trucks or small “bakkie” refrigeration units are used to transport the fruit in a cold environment. Companies such as SWD Refrigeration can be consulted who has extensive knowledge and experience in berry cooling procedures, designs and installations.
Berries For Africa can grow and supply more than one million plants per year. Most of the types of berry plants, except for some such as the Cape gooseberry are very winter hardy and can be planted anytime of the year. Care must be taken when they are transplanted in middle of summer especially in the very hot and dry areas where temperatures exceeds 40˚C to make sure that the plants do not go into shock or even die from drought due to drying out from malpractices or negligence. To prevent this, it is strongly advisable to have the irritation system completed and tested at least one week before the plants arrive to hydrate the soil or growing media. The plants must be planted the same level or even slightly deeper than they were planted at the nursery.
Estimated setup costs per hectare
Total cost per ha (planted directly into the soil): Min R343k to R643k (with net)
Total cost per ha (planted in pots/grow bags): Min R568k to R868k (with net)