When Does A Blackberry Bush Produce Fruit?


If you recently planted blackberry bushes (sometimes called brambles) in your yard, you may not have any fruit on them just yet.  In that case, you are probably wondering when blackberry bushes produce fruit, and if there is anything you can do to help them along.

So, when does a blackberry bush produce fruit?  A blackberry bush will produce fruit for 3 to 4 weeks sometime between late June and early September in most areas of the U.S.  Some blackberry bushes can produce fruit on first year canes (primocanes), but most will not produce fruit until 1 or 2 years after planting.

Of course, depending on the variety of blackberry bush you choose, you may get fewer berries or smaller fruit.

Other factors such as crowded spacing, over fertilization, and environmental conditions can all affect the growth of fruit on your blackberry bush.

Let’s take a closer look at blackberry bushes, when they bear fruit, and the factors that can affect your harvest.

When Does A Blackberry Bush Produce Fruit?

Most blackberry plants will produce fruit for at least a few weeks in the summer.  Depending on variety and location, some blackberry bushes begin producing fruit as early as late June.

Make sure your blackberries are black and ripe before picking them! These ones are not ready yet.

Other blackberry varieties will not begin producing fruit until late August or early September.  Generally, blackberries will ripen 35 to 45 days after pollination.

For more information, check out this article on blackberries from the NC State Extension.

Blackberry flowers are white with five petals.  If you see bees working on your blackberry flowers, then you should get berries a little over a month later!

Do Blackberry Bushes Produce Fruit Every Year?

No, most blackberry bushes do not produce fruit until they are 1 to 2 years old.  For more information, check out this article from Stark Brothers on the years until berry bushes produce fruit.

blackberries
Most blackberry canes will not produce fruit until their second year. Watch out for the thorns on certain blackberry varieties!

If you want fruit twice a year, choose blackberry bushes that are everbearing (primocane-fruiting or double-bearing).  They will produce fruit in late summer to early fall on the first-year canes (primocanes), and then again in the second year when the canes are two years old (floricanes).

For more information, check out this article on blackberries from the NC State Extension.

How Much Fruit Does A Blackberry Bush Produce?

Once established, a blackberry bush can produce lots of fruit.  According to the NC State Extension, a blackberry bush can produce a bountiful harvest of up to 10 pounds of fruit per plant each year.

unripe blackberries
Your blackberry bush can produce 5 to 10 pounds of fruit, or even more, in a single year!

According to Oregon State University, expect 4 to 6 pounds of fruit per year from erect blackberry types, 10 to 13 pounds for trailing types, and 25 to 55 pounds for semierect types (more on types of blackberries later).

For more information, check out this article on blackberries from the Oregon State University.

The Mississippi State Extension backs this up, suggesting that a blackberry bush can yield up to 2.5 gallons of fruit per plant in one year.  For more information, check out this article on blackberries from the Mississippi State Extension.

How Long Do Blackberry Bushes Live?

The crowns and roots of blackberry plants are perennial.  As such, they can live and be productive for decades (15 to 20 years).

The canes on a blackberry bush live for two years.  The canes grow vegetatively in the first year, and then produce fruit in the second year.  (The exception is everbearing blackberry bushes, whose canes can produce fruit in the first and second years.)

blackberries
Your blackberry bushes can live and produce fruit for 15 to 20 years!

After producing fruit in the second year, blackberry canes will die off.  At that point, you should prune them off to make way for new growth.  You can easily tell which canes to prune: they will turn brown after they die.

What Type Of Blackberry Bushes Should I Plant?

When selecting a blackberry bush, make sure to choose one that you can grow in your climate!  For more information, check out the USDA Zone Hardiness Map to see what zone you are in.

Remember that there are three basic types of blackberry bushes, as mentioned earlier:

  1. thorny & erect – the fruit on these canes is good and sweet with nasty thorns. They can tolerate temperatures down to -5 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. thornless & trailing – these require trellises due to trailing growth.  They can tolerate temperatures down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. thornless & erect (also known as semierect) – these canes have no thorns, and need no trellis!

For more information on these types of blackberries, check out this article on blackberries from the University of Maryland Extension.

Here are some blackberry varieties of different types that you might want to try:

  • Prime-Ark Freedom Blackberry – this thornless erect blackberry bush is also primocane-fruiting (everbearing).  It grows in Zones 6 to 8, and produces large black fruit that matures in July, August, or September.  The mature plant will be 5 to 6 feet tall and 5 to 6 feet wide.  For more information, check out the Prime-Ark Freedom Blackberry on the Burpee website.
  • Prime-Ark Traveler Blackberry – this thornless erect blackberry bush is also primocane-fruiting (everbearing).  It grows in Zones 6 to 9, and produces large black fruit that matures in July, August, or September.  The mature plant will be 4 to 6 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide.  For more information, check out the Prime-Ark Traveler Blackberry on the Burpee website.
  • Triple Crown Blackberry – this thornless erect blackberry bush grows in Zones 5 to 8, and produces large black fruit that matures in July, August, or September.  The mature plant will be  4 to 8 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide.  For more information, check out the Triple Crown Blackberry on the Burpee website.
  • Natchez Blackberry – this thornless trailing blackberry bush grows in Zones 4 to 9, and produces long, large black fruit that matures in July, August, or September.  The mature plant will be 4 to 5 feet tall and 3 to 3 feet wide.  For more information, check out the Natchez Blackberry on the Burpee website.
  • Columbia Giant Blackberry – this thornless trailing blackberry bush grows in Zones 6 to 8, and produces large black fruit that matures in July, August, or September.  The mature plant will be 5 to 6 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide.  For more information, check out the Columbia Giant Blackberry on the Burpee website.
  • Prime-Ark 45 Blackberry – this thornless trailing blackberry bush is also primocane-fruiting (everbearing).  It grows in Zones 6 to 9, and produces large black fruit that matures in July, August, or September.  The mature plant will be 5 to 8 feet tall and 5 to 6 feet wide.  For more information, check out the Prime-Ark 45 Blackberry on the Burpee website.

Do You Need Two Blackberry Bushes To Get Fruit?

No, you do not need two blackberry bushes to get fruit.  Blackberry bushes are self-pollinating (self-fertile), meaning that the flower contains both male and female parts.

blackberry flowers
Blackberry flowers are self-pollinating, meaning that they contain both male and female parts. That also means that you only need one blackberry bush to get fruit!

Wind and rain are enough to cause the male part of a blackberry flower to release pollen onto the female part of the flower.  However, pollinators such as bees can help this process along.

What Other Factors Can Affect Fruit On Blackberry Bushes?

The quality of care that you give your blackberry bushes will help to decide how much fruit you get each year.  Remember that blackberry bushes need full sun (8 or more hours or sunlight per day).

Other important factors for blackberry bushes are temperature, watering, fertilizing, pruning, and spacing.

Temperature For Blackberry Bushes

Most varieties of blackberries can survive up to Zone 6, and most can survive as far south as Zone 8.

As mentioned earlier, thorny erect blackberries can tolerate temperatures as low as -5 degrees Fahrenheit, while thornless trailing blackberries can tolerate temperatures as low as 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Watering For Blackberry Bushes

Avoid letting the soil get too dry for too long, especially if you have blackberry bushes that are flowering or trying to get established.  Usually, one thorough watering per week is enough for blackberry bushes.

garden hose
Make sure not to over or under water your blackberry bushes!

If you have a problem with dry soil, check out my article on dry soil.

On the other hand, over watering can spell death for your blackberry bush, due to root rot or fungal diseases.  For more information, check out my article on over watering.

Fertilizing For Blackberry Bushes

Before you plant a blackberry bush, add some compost to your soil.  It will provide organic material and nutrients for your bush as it grows.  The best part is that you can make compost yourself from ordinary yard and kitchen waste!

compost bin
Compost is a good way to add nutrients to your soil while also recycling yard and kitchen scraps and waste.

For more information, check out my article on how to make your own compost.

It may be necessary to use fertilizers as a supplement to compost, in order to provide extra nutrients if you soil is lacking. The best way to tell if you need fertilizer is with a soil test.

For more information, check out my article on soil testing.

A soil test will also indicate the pH of your soil.  The ideal pH range for blackberry bushes is between 5.5 (somewhat acidic) and 7.0 (neutral).

If your soil pH is too low (acidic), you can add lime (calcium carbonate) to raise it.

If your soil pH is too high (basic), you can add sulfur to lower it.

For more information on fertilizing blackberries, check out this article on blackberries from the University of Georgia Extension.

Finally, remember that it is possible to harm or kill your blackberry bushes by over fertilizing them.  For example, too much nitrogen can prevent your blackberry bush from producing any fruit.

For more information, check out my article on over fertilizing and my article on low-nitrogen fertilizers.

Pruning For Blackberry Bushes

Blackberry bushes require little pruning in the first year after planting, since all of the canes are still alive and will be producing fruit the next year.

pruning shears
After the first year, blackberry bushes should be pruned annually by cutting back dead canes (ones that are two years old and have produced fruit).

After that first year, you should prune blackberry bushes annually.  To do this, cut off second-year canes after harvesting fruit from them in late summer or early fall.

For more information, check out this article from Stark Brothers on pruning blackberry bushes.

Spacing For Blackberry  Bushes

If you plant your blackberry bushes too close together, they will compete with each other for resources, such as water and nutrients in the soil.  Planting too close together can also promote the spread of diseases.

Plant your blackberry bushes at least 3 feet apart, with 4 to 6 feet between rows.  Depending on the width of the plant, you may need to leave more space between plants or rows, especially for trailing varieties.  (You can check the width of the blackberry bush in the plant description in the catalog that you order from).

For more information on spacing, check out this article on blackberries from the Iowa State Extension.

Conclusion

By now, you have a good idea of when blackberry bushes will produce fruit (for most areas and varieties: 3 to 5 weeks, sometime between June and September).  You also know a bit more about how to take care of blackberry bushes and how to avoid the problems that can affect your harvest.

I hope you found this article helpful – if so, please share it with someone who can use the information.  If you have any questions or advice about blackberry bushes, please leave a comment below.

jonathon.david.madore

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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