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Growing Healthy Brambles. Anne DeMarsay Regional Specialist, Fruit Pathology Maryland Cooperative Extension Upper Marlboro, MD. What Is A “Bramble”?. Any plant belonging to the genus Rubus Member of the rose family (Rosaceae) Close relatives include strawberry and rose

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Growing Healthy Brambles

Anne DeMarsay

Regional Specialist, Fruit Pathology

Maryland Cooperative Extension

Upper Marlboro, MD

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What Is A “Bramble”?

  • Any plant belonging to the genus Rubus

  • Member of the rose family (Rosaceae)

    • Close relatives include strawberry and rose

    • More distant relatives include apple and pear

  • Brambles have perennial crowns with biennial shoots

    • 1st year primocanes grow vegetatively

    • 2nd year floricanes bear fruit and die

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Bramble Types

  • Red raspberries (includes gold/yellow)

    • Floricane-bearing (summer) raspberries bear fruit on 2nd year canes

    • Primocane-bearing (fall or everbearing) raspberries bear fruit on 1st year canes

  • Black raspberries

    • Purple raspberries (black/red hybrid) grown like black

  • Blackberries

    • Thorny

    • Thornless

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Viral Diseases

Raspberry Mosaic Disease Complex(BR/RR, aphids)

Tomato Ringspot(RR, nematodes)

Raspberry Leaf Curl(BR/RR, aphids)

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Bacterial Diseases

Crown & Cane Gall

Fire Blight

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Fungal Diseases

  • Soilborne diseases

  • Cane blights

  • Orange rust

  • Powdery mildew

  • Fruit rots

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Phytophthora Root Rot

Verticillium Wilt

Soilborne Diseases

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Cane Blights

Botrytis Cane Blight



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Cane Blights

Cane Blight

Spur Blight(RR)

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Fruit Rots


Botrytis Fruit Rot(Gray Mold)

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Fruit Rots

Late Leaf Rust(RR)

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Growing Healthy Brambles

  • Managing bramble diseases requires using a “toolkit” with many different tools

    • Suitable varieties: Choose varieties adapted to your site, with disease resistance where possible

    • Healthy stock: Buy clean, virus-indexed plants from a reputable source

    • Sound cultural practices from site selection through postharvest handling of fruit

    • Appropriate chemical controls: Use a season-long protectant fungicide program for diseases that respond to chemical controls

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Why Cultural Practices?

  • First line of defense against all pathogens—and the only control for some

  • Objectives

    • Reduce or eliminate the pathogen population

    • Create an environment that discourages infection and disease development

    • Improve the effectiveness of fungicides by allowing better penetration and coverage

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Choose a Favorable Site

  • Excellent drainage—no wet feet!

  • Full sun

  • Air circulation that promotes rapid drying of plants

    • Plant rows in the direction of prevailing winds if possible

    • In warmer areas, plant brambles on north-facing slopes to avoid solar heating in winter

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Choose a Favorable Site

  • Compatible cropping history

    • No history of Phytophthora root rot

    • No history of Verticillium wilt (5–10 yrs) or recent planting of susceptible crops (brambles, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes)

    • No recent history of crown gall (2–3 yrs)

    • No nearby bramble plantings or wild brambles that cannot be removed (500–1000-foot buffer)

    • Be aware of any residual herbicides

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Prepare the Site

  • Test for soil organic matter (4–6% is ideal) and add “green manure” or compost as needed

  • Test for harmful nematodes (dagger and root-lesion nematodes)

    • Reduce populations by biorenovation with rapeseed (1 or 2 crops) or fumigation

  • Control perennial weeds

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Prepare the Site

  • Create raised beds to improve drainage

  • Remove any wild brambles and wild (multiflora) roses within 500 to 1000 feet

  • When replanting, consider crop rotation to reduce populations of soilborne pathogens and nematodes

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After Planting

  • Manage the canopy density (plant spacing, row width, and cane length) to speed drying

  • Avoid excessive fertilization

    • Increases drying time in plant canopy

    • High N can promote gray mold (Botrytis)

  • Inspect the planting for disease and injury

    • Rogue (remove) plants with symptoms of orange rust or viruses

    • Avoid injuring plants during field operations

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After Planting

  • Control weeds, including wild brambles and roses

    • Speeds drying of canopy

    • Removes reservoir for pathogens and insect pests

  • Prune only when necessary and in dry weather

  • After harvest, practice good sanitation

    • Remove and destroy old fruiting canes and any diseased primocanes

    • For primocane-bearing brambles, mow and remove all canes

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Got a Question?

Anne DeMarsay, Ph.D.

Maryland Cooperative Extension

2005 Largo Road

Upper Marlboro, MD 20774-8508

Phone: (301) 627-8440

Email: [email protected]

Photo credits

Healthy fruit: Edwin Remsberg for UMD AGNR Online Photo Archive

Diseases: APS Digital Image Collection, Diseases of Small Fruits