Anybody use cattle panel to train trailing thornless blackberries?

I greatly prefer to use T-posts to digging, and have had good results using various forms of cattle panel trellising attached to T-posts for things like tomatos and green beans. But will it be a hassle for blackberries?

I’ve got a couple of rows about 16 feet long :wink: that I need to support. The canes, planted this spring, are maybe 8 feet long or so and sprawling. I’d like to use some time while on vacation to get something in place. I may not get another chance before spring.

I have 8 or 10 foot T-posts and a few extra panel laying around. I also have some 3/4" conduit that I was considering bolting to the T-posts, but alignment seemed like it would be a problem.

There are 3 Columbia Star plants in each row. They sound fabulous, I’ve never tasted them, but bought them on the description:

Thanks murky. The berries sound great. I’ve ordered a few. Thanks!

You’re most welcome mrsg47, if they are close to as good as Marionberry, and thornless, we’re in for a treat.

If I grow on cattle panel, I’ll probably mount the panel about a foot off the ground to bring the top around 5.5’

P.S. I should add, they started pretty slowly, but now they are pretty good sized. They still have all of their leaves and seem like they are still growing. So far the rabbits haven’t messed with them that I can tell, but there are plenty of wild trailing blackberries all about our property (In fact, I have to pull them from the berry garden in which the Columbia Star are planted).

P.P.S. Probably more than you want to know about Columbia Star:

Friends a few miles from here grow trailing blackberries on cattle panels. They left theirs more than a foot maybe closer to 2’ of the ground. Old canes can be a pain to remove with any system like that. I would use barb wire for trellises just because it’s cheaper and cattle panels are expensive. Since you already have them might as well use them… Those same friends pot the tips of the blackberries in old coffee cans with a couple of holes in the bottom. Sounds like you have a great idea. I used my vacation planting pears. Its amazing how much we can accomplish on an orchard in a week. It was time wisely spent.

Thanks clarkinks,

I’m trying to avoid anything that involves digging and/or cement - oh, and thorns or barbs :smile:

I love cattle panel, because they are so versatile and easy to use and re-use. I get them on sale for under $20 per 16’ foot panel. They go up and come down fast using T-posts and a pounder or puller. When I’m in a hurry I use zip ties, otherwise wire.


Well I grow both Columbia Star and Marion Berry and here in the Midwest, the Columbia Star doesn’t come close to as good as Marion. It was only one year, so maybe they will be better next year? Many of us have been reporting this for awhile now. Scott, Fruitnut and JT also feel CS didn’t live up to potential. Hope it does better for you. This is all on this board, we discussed many cultivars.
A couple advantages is it is thornless which is nice. And the canes are flexible and easier to move around. Other trailing types develop stiffer canes the older they get. Unless you guide cane while growing, it’s hard not to break canes moving them. Some are more brittle than others. Columbia Star seems to remain fairly flexible. A very nice feature. Taste was pretty good,
yet it was compared to Marion which is just an amazing tasting berry. This is not that!

Wow for that price I would definitely use cattle panels. My friends did exactly what your planning and its lasted at least 10 years I know of already.

Interesting Drew I hope I have to led others astray. I have the advantage of living in the same climate as OSU where the variety was developed, in the prime berry growing region.

Last year was the first full fruiting year for my Columbia Star blackberries (I have four mature plants) but there was a lot of damage to them from the prior very cold winter so I really didn’t get many to try. So far, my winter seems pretty mild, so with fingers crossed, if the temperatures stay higher this winter, I may have a lot more of CS to try in the Spring to provide a more complete review. Climate does seem to impact the flavor on some of the Western trailing blackberries, and CS may also follow this path, which would make it not such a good candidate to trial outside its preferred climate. You may also want to try “Willamette Thornless Marion” which is a new thornless sport of the thorny Marion blackberry. You can buy it at Burnt Ridge Nursery.

google wedge-loc t post brace. these are what I use on grapes and berries and they are simple and strong.

Thanks txpanhandle1, I’ve seen those and they look great. If I were aiming for 100’ rows I might spring for them in spite of the expense. I think local Wilco or Coastal have some of the pieces.

For my 15’ rows of blackberries, those are overkill. I’ve seen one or two other designs for braces that attach two vertical posts with an angled brace for row ends.

My colleague from work eschews those for the more direct approach of just drilling the posts and bolting them together. They are harder to drill through than I expected, but it is doable.

Do you have a local source of the u shaped posts that the seed companies use for their field signs? They have holes drilled in them about every two inches. I have used those for short runs and placed conduit between them as a top rail using some all thread sticking into the pipe and through holes in the u post. As a second and third wire I pulled the posts together with an eyebolt . The tightened lower wires keep the top rail from spreading. I wish I was good with a camera… I think Lowes and home depot carry the posts now but I just used discards because seed companies never pick up their field signs.

I’m intrigued, but can’t visualize what you are describing to attach the conduit.

I presume these are the type of posts you are referring to:

That looks like a light weight one. Google: u channel post. I you are anywhere a farming region they will be free ones available.

Check out a diagram for a shift trellis. The cattle panel may fit well into the shift trellis. One advantage of the shift trellis is the ability to lower the canes close to the ground and cover them if you live in a cold climate.

T-posts, cattlepanels, and zipties, couldn’t garden without them. After I finsh with them in the fall, I ziptie them into a wedge and use them as a deer shield, works great on shrubs and berries.

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I have adopted the Opea method which is to prune the canes and not let them get more then 5’ tall. I start nipping the tops off when they are 18" tall and knock them back several times over the summer.

I really like cattle panel because of how thick the wire is and the fact it is galvanized it lasts a long time. Probably not what you are looking for with rows but I have two plants that use cattle panel for the trellis. The plants are spaced 6 ft apart and each plant gets a full cattle panel for its’ support. The biggest draw back for this system is obviously the cost so not a good idea with production in mind but it works great for a backyard setting.
Find the center wire on the cattle panel and count out 2 squares on both sides from the wire and mark this wire. Next at both marks bend the cattle panel up with a lot of muscle, a helper and a 2x4 to make a straight line. What you end up with is a u shape that when stood upright is about 6.5 ft tall, 3 ft wide and 50" deep. I putt one of these over each plant with t-bar posts at the corners to stabilize it but you could probably use only one per side. They have no problem supporting the weight of the black berries because the u- shape cattle panel is standing on the ground. You can come in from the sides to prune and train the canes and each plant gets very big and bushy. I get a lot of sun scald on my berries so the bigger bushier plants work better providing shade to the berries. I keep the plant about 7 ft tall, 7 ft wide and 5 ft deep.
I forgot to mention these are Chester and Triple crown black berries.

gregkdc, that sounds like a good system, and I wouldn’t mind dedicating a post and panel to each plant, but it doesn’t sound good for fully trailing brambles. Columbia Star grows like a limp noodle.

I grew some birdhouse gourds on a cattle panel one year. I drove a t post at one end , laid the panel flat on the ground, then pushed it against the t post until it was arched with the peak at 5 1/2 feet. Then drove another t post at that end to hold it. I planted at each end by the t posts and they grew up each side and met in middle. I don’t know that it was the most efficient use of garden space but it worked good.