I need help with blackberry cane

I am growing Prime Ark Freedom that I just planted in may of this year. One of the first canes has had a funky curl to the leaves like they are wilting but has still been growing. I finally cut this cane out today. other canes on this same plant are okay. This picture was taken about thirty minutes after pruning and the curl is exaggerated more but was there before cutting. There are some small areas on the lower cane that I am sending pic of too. Would this be anthracnose? There are no blotches, discoloration, or holes in the leaves. The leaves are just a little darker than normal and curling longwise to the center.
What is it? Is it contagious? What do I do about it?

Thanks in advance :confused:

I don’t see any disease. maybe cane was compromised by rubbing against trellis, or damage from heavy winds. I have had canes die for no apparent reason, or from moving them even. I would not be too concerned yet.

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Cane borers went after my Freedom blackberries this season and several of the branches looked like yours. Check a few inches above the soil line for enlarged knots. Good luck, Bill

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I must admit I have little experience with borers. I had canes that looked like a borer was there, but no sign of any borers when examined, ever here.

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Thanks Bill and Drew. Everything is just kinda new to me and want to catch anything before it gets out of hand. I don’t see any knots in the canes. Just some areas that are brownish that may be trauma of some kind. The floods we had in May quickly resolved to no rainfall for 40 days and temps hovering around 100. So I’m struggling with keeping them watered and I thought the leaves just looked like they might be dry but other canes on the same plant were fine. No blooms on these primocanes but they are growing good. I guess I can forgive them for not having berries this year. :relaxed:

Bill, have you been happy with the Freedom berries? Growth? Taste?

I’m also just getting started so my experience is limited. The few berries I got were large and a little sweeter than my natchez. Looking forward to next year so I can see how the early crop does. Good luck with yours, Bill

I hope Bill is having better fortune with them than I am. Mine have been magnets for borers that left the Apaches alone. they’ve also attractive every kind of sucking insect more than the other blackberries, AND they appear to dislike 100+ degree weather with a sensitivity to any drying of the soil to the extent that upper leaves would quickly shrivel and die. Mine are making more berries, but they are few, and I just have to hope that they don’t have any dryness in the meantime because then the berries will just get crispy brown.

Maybe it’s just that these were new TC plants this spring and didn’t develop enough root system to thrive through the extra severe summer we had this year. I hope it’s not that they are super finicky prima dona berries.

I’ll put my experience this way. I also planted red raspberries this year. They’ve been a PITA, but I expected that because they aren’t expected to survive and produce here. But they’ve been giving me an increasing number of raspberries throughout the summer and mostly continue to live. The PA Freedoms have been struggling worse than the raspberries since the heat set in.

That’s not the report I wanted to give. I would have preferred to say how wonderfully well they did.

I’m hoping the same for my Freedoms. The root system is not established yet and I hope next season will be better. For me the Freedoms offer a chance for an earlier and later ripening date than my other blackberries. I think I will have a much better understanding of what the Freedom brings to the table after next year. Bill

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I have two different “batches” of PAF. The original were more like root stock with very large root systems…just not any “plant” topside to call them bare root plants. These are the ones that got flooded and I lost about 5 of these. I have six left and they are growing good but no blooms. When I thought I was going to lose all of these I ordered what I’m guessing you are calling TC-- small root segments that I started in pots in the greenhouse. I have 9 of these plants and one has produced sort of a berry and now there are a couple of blooms on the same plant. I have just transplanted all of these…it is still hot here but I either had to repot or put them out so they went to live outside. They want water water waters and do well when they get it. All my plants were started very late and with the weather this year I’m not surprised that there are no first year berries. All seem to be healthy except for the cane I started this thread about. I also have started some red raspberries with trepidation knowing that they don’t like our heat but I wanted to try. We have had to put them under shade cloth and that has helped. They have a few blooms coming on. They were also started late and suffered through the flood. I feel that I have had to coach all these through every day this year. I’m trying to be patient and keep my hopes up for next year. Now I’m just needing someone to tell me that this variety is worth it!! :confounded: Kate

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How do you control the borers?

I’m mostly organic so this is a challenge for me that is still being determined. As Of now I just remove the vine whenever I see the borer knots. There are sprays but I have not used any so others might be able to help if you choose this route. Bill

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The borers that I’m certain were hitting mine this summer were raspberry cane borers. They’d leave two thin girdling marks ~1" apart on canes or branches of my PAF and the raspberries. After I found the first one and Bil, @Auburn , identified it for me, I would cut or snap off at the bottom girdle mark the branches or canes that got hit each day. That way I was removing the eggs before they hatched. So, most of my canes are shorter than they would have been. I don’t even know if I also have the other type of borer that inserts eggs low on the cane. I doubt if anyone in my area besides me is fool enough to go to the extent I have to try to grow raspberries, although the Big Box stores do sell pots of Heritage raspberries every year. (I’ve fallen prey to those several times. They have never ever made it through the summer or even put on any decent growth. As far as I’m concerned, those are sucker buys for this area.) Anyway, to get back to the subject of controlling borers, one recommendation that I read from another state’s extension office is to spray them with a systemic insecticide. You can do that either in the fall or even sooner if they aren’t flowering and bearing fruit. I personally wouldn’t dare do that while at any stage of flowering or fruit bearing because my bees’ health is important to me and I intend to eat every berry I can get from those (for me) highly labor intensive plants. If you don’t get rid of the borers they will destroy the roots before next season. Plus a new generation will come out to destroy more.

When I said my plants were TC, that meant grown from Tissue Cultures. They were young and healthy with root systems and came in plugs that were quite large. PAF’s are quite a new variety and order to have the numbers to sell to the general public, most were TC plants. It’s the only way to grow the quantities necessary for sale at a price that isn’t exorbitant.

Unfortunately, because they are such a new introduction, it will be difficult,at best, to find anyone with more than brief experience growing them for personal use. I don’t know of any regular people who have had them long enough to have established stands so we can know how they really perform long term. I’m struggling with mine, but that doesn’t mean they are below par compared to others. Mine have had an exceptionally tough season, weatherwise and pestwise, for new plants.

I’m hoping that all of ours do well over winter and come out of it strong and ready to prove that they are excellent and productive blackberries for Southern growers.


Good info. Thanks. We may have been a couple of those Heritage suckers. Lol. That is the variety we ordered. We have managed to bring them through the summer and we do have some blooms if they set and mature. Our frost date is mid November. What raspberry variety is better for the heat? I do love them too–enough to work at it.

My last PAF’s were shipped to me as small (4") root segments. I planted these in pots and out of 13 (I ordered 10) I now have 9 nice plants. Our raspberries were shipped as root stock–feathery, hairlike roots that had a few sprouts starting. It was shipped by feet of row instead of number of plants. I’m learning a lot this year and most of it shows me how little I know!

I’ll have to keep lookout for the borers. Thanks for all the info

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