Last year I picked almost 100 gallons of blackberries. This year I may get 1/3 of that. With it being so dry, am I wasting my water and time using a soaker hose on these berries? Or is it automatic that one year they are bountiful and the next year not? Also,this year I think it is too late but what can I do to ward off the June bugs next season?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Irene: As a general rule blackberries do not produce less volume during consecutive years. Other factors at play such as Mother Nature can affect production. Drought like we had last summer may be a contributing factor in terms of fewer berries this growing season. So, no, you are not wasting your time, keeping your plants watered now will be beneficial for next year’s crop. If overall the plants and the actual berries look healthy there is no reason to think the problem is anything other than lack of moisture. Low fertility can also affect berry production so if you have not amended the soil recently it may be time to do so. You can have your soil tested through your County Cooperative Extension Service. As for the June beetles, they are attracted to overripe fruit so be sure to keep up on your picking. Otherwise the damage they would do to the plant would be insignificant. Netting your plants and/or hand-picking the beetles into a pail of soapy water will do the trick; same goes for Japanese beetles if you have problems with them.