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Blackberries - what's wrong with them?

 
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I planted these blackberries around mid-March in Texas and they have been doing good until recently. Two of the four plants show something is wrong with leaves curling up on the plant and some stalks dying. The other two plants show minimal signs of the same issue.   I've been watering in the late afternoon early evening twice a week until recently and have been doing a brief watering every evening due to 100 degree temperatures. I check for bugs and saw a few aphids but not many. Please let me know what you think or what to look for. Thanks!
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Emily,

It is weird that you have vibrant, dark, healthy green leaves on shoots right next to shoots that look like they are about to die from drought which leads me to think that the problem isn’t about water, especially as you state that you water daily.

This does make me think about the possibility of some type of disease.  If Disease is the issue, my thoughts would be to get rid of as much of the diseased portion of the plant as possible.

But this is just my guess as I have never seen this exact problem before.  If this sounds about right to you, maybe we could brainstorm a way out for you.

Eric
 
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Hi Emily,

Welcome to Permies.
 
pollinator
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My reaction was not enough water for the heat they are experiencing.  Give a bit more water and shade them are the 2 first things I would try.
 
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Its possible you have been infected with a blackberry virus which has no cure. In that case, you would destroy the infected plants and choose the immune cultivars (natural selection)
 
William Kellogg
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If you are concerned about over or under watering, you can use a simple moisture meter -
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My opinion, for what it's worth, is that it may be a fungal infection brought on by the watering and the heat. I would be careful to water the ground underneath, and avoid any water on the plants themselves if you can. I think blackberries don't like it too hot - they like it with me and we have quite cool summers.
It might be worth cutting the affected parts back. I'm wondering whether a liquid feed would help or harm? Sometimes lush growth is more susceptable to injury than slow, hard growth.
 
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How deep is the mulch?
 
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Hi, Emily

Welcome to the forum.

I am in Texas, also.

I have a blackberry bush that I have never watered since it became established.

I agree with what Nancy has advised.

You might try this non-toxic fungicide to see if that helps.
 
Emily Cornelius
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Thanks for all the advice. I gave the plant some food, cut off any dead areas, and am watering more and only at the base of the plant. Hopefully one or all combined will get them back into shape. They already look at little better in the cooler parts of the day. Thanks again!
 
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I planted 29 bare-rooted blackberries in Central Texas at the beginning of April. Roughly a third are doing well, a third never leafed out, and a third leafed out and then died back or look about to. FWIW, the ones that are doing better are in the lower spots where more water collects--we water daily, given the weather.

I think they are hardy enough once established, but in this drought year, it seems to me that the blackberries need a lot of water to get established.
 
William Kellogg
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Agreed with John, our best blackberry patch is in a huge swamp, just above the water line. Because of the flood plain, this is a nutrient rich soil with full sun.
 
R. Han
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John Greenan wrote:I planted 29 bare-rooted blackberries in Central Texas at the beginning of April.



1. In the northern hemisphere you are supposed to plant them in the autumn, so they have time to develop a root system before the droughts come.
2. My question how deep the mulch is has not been answered, from the photos it does not seem to bee deep, rahter only sprinkled on the surface.
3. You are supposed to water less frequently, but deep. this way you encourage the deep roots that the plant needs to make it on its own.
 
pollinator
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Could it be that they had too much plant food and the salts in it are burning the plant?  
 
R. Han
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Faye Streiff wrote:Could it be that they had too much plant food and the salts in it are burning the plant?  



This should only be an issue with chemical fertilizer, organic material should decompose slowly so this is not an issue.
I do not think people on this forum use chemical fertilzers...if you do, please read the soil food web by elaine ingram.

EDIT: In that books she explains how the chemical fertilizers actually kill soil life via osmotic pressure, releasing a lot of nutriens for a short time (most of those wash away), leaving the soil in a worse condition than it was before fertilizing.
 
pollinator
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If you used bagged potting soil it's possible that it is contaminated. Three summers ago I got a truck load of composted manure/hay from a big horse farm and applied it to a new garden spot. I also put some in a separate tomato bed at my neighbor's house. The plants in both locations ended up looking exactly like your blackberry leaves. At first I thought it was a water issue, then some kind of tomato blight, but I had a nagging feeling it was the horse compost. My neighbor ended up pulling out all of her tomatoes.
I didn't plant anything there last year and just let it sit fallow, but this year I did plant, hoping that whatever was there had broken down. I was wrong. The tomatoes are struggling with the same severely upward curling leaves, though they are better than the first year and are setting fruit. Now I suspect that the hay from the horse farm was sprayed with Grazon, a broadleaf herbicide that is wreaking havoc on gardens everywhere and showing up in purchased bagged soil. I hope that's not the case for you and that it's just some blight, but I heard someone say that leaves curled downward is disease and leaves curled up means chemical damage. I don't know if that's true.
There have been many rants about it on YouTube for the last few weeks and I'll link one. What a mess!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8oL1E-JP1s&t=211s
 
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