In recent years, domestic farmers and gardeners who grow berries for sale are increasingly paying attention to blackberries. For a long time, this culture was underestimated in Russia and neighboring countries. Finally, we realized that blackberries have a lot of advantages over raspberries - higher yield, less susceptibility to pests and diseases. And berries are much healthier.
But due to a lack of information, small and medium-sized growers are often lost when choosing varieties. Now it's not a problem to buy blackberry seedlings, go to any online store or just visit the nearest nursery. But are all varieties suitable for commercial cultivation? Of course not! And this must be borne in mind when choosing seedlings. One of the "workhorses" that provide berries for the market and even large wholesalers is the Loch Ness blackberry.
Blackberry Loch Ness (Lochness, Loch Ness) - one of the most popular industrial varieties in Europe and America. It was created in 1990 in the UK by Dr. Derek Jennings. Lochness is a complex hybrid, the parent crops of which are European blackberry, raspberry and Logan berry varieties.
It was Derek Jennings who singled out the L1 raspberry gene responsible for large-fruitedness, thanks to which the Loch Ness blackberries are large in size.
Description of berry culture
First of all, the Lochness blackberry is a very good commercial variety. It is not a dessert, although the berries are large, and the taste is pleasant. This should not be forgotten by those gardeners who scold Loch Ness for a low tasting rating and excessive density of berries.
General understanding of the variety
Blackberry Lochness forms a powerful compact bush with thornless shoots up to 4 meters high. The variety is classified as semi-erect - the lashes grow straight at first, then thin out and lean to the ground.
The shoots of the Lochness blackberry thornless variety grow quickly, forming many lateral branches and fruit twigs. The root system is powerful. The leaves are serrated, medium-sized, bright green.
The variety gives a lot of replacement shoots, and if the roots are intentionally damaged, there are enough shoots. Fruiting occurs on the whips of the last year. The load on the bush is large, however, not as strong as that of the Natchez blackberry.
The berries of the Loch Ness blackberry are large, black with gloss, elliptical in shape, very beautiful. In many sources, you can read that the fruits of the variety are one-dimensional. This point needs clarification. Lined Lochness berries yield from harvest to harvest. The first fruiting brings the largest blackberry - up to 10 g each. In the future, the average weight of the berries is 4-5 g. The fruits are collected in large clusters.
Loch Ness does not taste the best. At least, gourmets and experts do not delight - they rated it at 3.7 points. Popular connoisseurs gave 2.7 points to the variety. Perhaps they tasted the Lochness blackberry at the stage of technical ripeness - the degree of ripeness of its berries is difficult to determine by eye. The greenish berry is slightly sour. Fully ripe - sweet, with pronounced sourness, pleasant taste, aromatic.
Loch Ness blackberries are dense, but juicy, with small seeds. They tolerate transportation well and are suitable for mechanized harvesting.
The Lochness blackberry is one of the best bred to date, if we consider the variety as an industrial crop (which it is).
The Loch Ness variety has good drought tolerance and can withstand frosts down to -17-20⁰ C. This means that blackberries need to be sheltered in all but the southernmost regions.
The characteristic of the Lochness blackberry variety, as one of the most unpretentious, corresponds to reality. But with sufficient care, its berries become tastier, and the yield can grow almost 2 times - from 15 to 25, or even 30 kg per bush.
The variety is undemanding to the soil, it can grow in all Russian regions. Loch Ness blackberries are popular in the Middle Lane, they are often planted in the suburbs.
There are no thorns on the shoots, which greatly facilitates care. The berries are dense, well transported, suitable for mechanized and manual harvesting.
Flowering period and ripening time
Loch Ness blackberries are mid-late varieties. It blooms in early summer, ripens - by the end of July in Ukraine and southern Russia, in the Central lane - 10-14 days later.
Fruiting is extended, but not excessively - 4-6 weeks. In most regions, the berries have time to ripen before frost.
Yield indicators, fruiting dates
Lochness is one of the most productive varieties. Even with poor agricultural technology, an adult bush gives about 15 kg of berries. The average figure with minimal care is 20-25 kg per plant. With intensive agricultural technology, it is quite possible to collect up to 30 kg from each Loch Ness blackberry bush.
The first berries appear in the second year after planting, the third season is considered the time of entry into full fruiting. But blackberries will give 25-30 kg from a bush even later. Loch Ness has a strong root system that increases the yield as it grows.
Scope of berries
Loch Ness blackberries are not considered dessert, but if picked at full ripeness, the taste will be pleasant. The fruits of this variety are perfect for freezing, all types of processing. Despite the large size of the berries, they can be dried.
Disease and pest resistance
Like the whole culture in general, Lochness blackberries are resistant to pests and diseases. True, preventive treatments need to be carried out.
Advantages and disadvantages
The description of the Loch Ness blackberry variety shows that as an industrial crop it is close to ideal. But the dessert taste does not differ, and is more suitable for processing than the consumption of fresh berries.
The undoubted advantages of the variety include:
- High yield - up to 30 kg with intensive care.
- The berries are large, beautiful.
- The bush forms many replacement shoots.
- The scourge grows quickly, with a lot of side branches.
- Fruits are dense, well transported.
- Mechanized harvesting is possible.
- The processed products are of high quality.
- Shoots are devoid of thorns.
- Trimming the lashes is optional.
- High resistance to adverse weather factors, diseases, pests.
- Undemanding to the composition of the soil.
- Ease of breeding varieties.
Among the shortcomings, we note:
- Fruit taste mediocre.
- Medium late ripening of berries.
- The variety needs to be covered for the winter.
- In rainy or cold summers, as well as when planted in the shade, berries gain little sugar.
- Lochness is low in vitamin C compared to other blackberries.
Loch Ness blackberries are easy to propagate by pulping (rooting the tops) and layering. If the root system is deliberately injured with a shovel bayonet, the bush gives a lot of overgrowth.
You should not expect anything good from sowing seeds. Blackberry Lochness is a complex hybrid. Seedlings will be of interest only to breeders when creating new varieties.
Reproduction by root cuttings will give a good result. But in private households it makes no sense to resort to this method. It is much easier to get a few or even a dozen new plants by dropping layers or from the undergrowth.
Loch Ness Blackberries are planted in the same way as other varieties. There is nothing difficult in this, the culture takes root well, if you choose the right time, place, and regularly water the first time.
Blackberries should be planted in the spring after warm weather sets in and the ground warms up. The plant will then have time to take root before the cold weather.
In the south, planting is carried out in the fall, no later than a month before the onset of frost. Spring planting there is undesirable - warm weather can quickly be replaced by heat, which will destroy blackberries that have not had time to take root.
Choosing the right place
A well-lit place, always protected from the cold wind, is suitable for planting a crop. Groundwater should not approach the surface closer than 1-1.5 m.
The Lochness variety is undemanding to the composition of the soil, but it cannot be planted on sandstones. But organic-rich light loams are ideal.
Do not plant blackberries close to raspberries, nightshades, or strawberries.
A planting hole for the Loch Ness blackberry is dug with a diameter of 50 cm and the same depth, the top layer of soil is set aside - it will be useful for preparing a fertile mixture. For this, the soil is mixed with a bucket of humus, 50 g of potash and 150 g of phosphorus fertilizers. Dolomite flour or crushed or ground eggshells (calcium source) can be added.
Sand is added to dense soils, an additional dose of organic matter to carbonate soils. The soil for blackberries should be slightly acidic (5.7-6.5), if the pH level is lower, add dolomite flour or chalk, above - red (horse) peat.
The planting hole is filled by 2/3 with the prepared mixture, filled with water, allowed to settle for at least 10-15 days.
Selection and preparation of seedlings
Seedlings need to be bought in a trusted place. The Loch Ness variety does not belong to the newest, but it is quite in demand, and its farms are often purchased. So that:
- You need a lot of seedlings.
- In the total mass, it is easy to slip unsuitable planting material or an unclaimed variety.
So make sure that the shoots are free of thorns (Lochness is thornless), and they themselves are flexible, with smooth intact bark. A distinctive feature of blackberries is a powerful root system. In the Loch Ness variety, it is better developed than in other representatives of the culture. Do not be too lazy to smell the root - the smell should be fresh.
Algorithm and scheme of landing
The recommended planting scheme for Lochness blackberries is 2.2-3 m between the bushes, the rows should be 2.5-3 m apart from each other. Compaction on industrial plantations up to 1.8-2 m is acceptable. But between the rows during mechanized harvesting, the distance must be observed at least 3 m.
- In the center of the planting pit, a small hill is made, around which the roots are straightened.
- The fertile mixture is poured gradually, constantly carefully compacting it in order to prevent the formation of voids, but not to damage the roots. The neck is deepened by 1.5-2 cm.
- After planting, the blackberries are watered abundantly. This will require at least a bucket of water.
- The soil under the bush is mulched with humus or sour (high) peat.
Follow-up care of the culture
Growing Loch Ness blackberries will not be difficult for novice gardeners or on industrial plantations. The main thing is that the seedling takes root well, and for this you need to observe the planting time and water the bush abundantly.
Blackberry Lochness needs to be tied to a support. You can use any - multi-row, T or V-shaped, up to 2.5 m high. The shoots are fastened with a fan, zigzag, braided, the side branches are parallel to the ground. In order not to get confused, it is better to breed fruiting whips and young ones in different directions.
Someone who maintains Loch Ness blackberries for garden decoration and is not too concerned about crop size can prune the shoots as soon as they stop growing straight and begin to slope to the ground. So the variety will not need to be tied up at all. You will receive a decorative bush from spring to autumn, however, you won't even collect 15 kg of berries from it.
To get 25-30 kg of berries from Lochness blackberries, you need intensive feeding and regular pruning.
Plants must be watered. All blackberries are hygrophilous, the drought resistance declared in the description means one thing - this particular variety needs less water than others. So in the absence of rain, water the bush at least once a week, if the weather is hot, a little less often in cool summer.
Mulch the soil to retain moisture, provide additional nutrition and protect the root system from high temperatures. If you do not have humus or sour peat, use straw, grass. As a last resort, you can cover the soil with torn weeds (just make sure that there are no seeds on it, otherwise you will get additional problems with weeding).
Loch Ness is overloaded with berries and therefore requires intensive feeding. In the spring, immediately after raising the lashes to the trellis, the soil is fertilized with nitrogen (it is better to take calcium nitrate). During flowering and berry setting, a full chlorine-free mineral complex is used. During the ripening of berries, foliar dressings with the addition of humate and chelates are useful, and root dressings - with a solution of mullein or grass infusion. In early autumn, potassium monophosphate is used.
The soil around the blackberry bushes is loosened in spring and autumn, during the season of active growth and fruiting, it is covered with mulch.
Fruit-bearing shoots in the fall must be cut off at ground level. Be sure to remove all broken, weak and sick lashes.
Otherwise, pruning Lochness blackberries is a delicate matter and causes a lot of controversy among gardeners. Shortening the tops of the main strands facilitates maintenance and increases lateral branching. But it is already strong. If you thicken the bush, it will be so overloaded with berries that no additional feeding will help.
But it is worth shortening the side shoots - so the berries will be smaller, but it will become larger. As a result, the total harvest will not be affected.
Young lashes are rationed - in the spring they leave 6-8 of the most powerful ones, which have wintered well for fruiting, the rest are cut out.
Preparing for winter
In the fall, the Loch Ness blackberry is carefully removed from the supports (you can also use the wire). Fruiting branches are removed, the young are laid on the ground, pinned, covered with dry corn stalks, spruce branches, straw. Spunbond or agrofiber is laid on top.
Diseases and pests: methods of control and prevention
Reviews of gardeners about the Loch Ness blackberry variety confirm that it is sick and rarely affected by pests. It is only necessary to treat the shoots with a preparation containing copper in spring and autumn and not plant raspberries, strawberries or nightshade vegetables nearby.
Lochness Blackberry is an excellent commercial variety. Those gardeners who grow a crop for the sale of berries can safely plant it - the fruits are large, beautiful, well transported, and the care is minimal. The taste of blackberries is not so bad - pleasant, but not dessert, ordinary. But for all types of blanks, the berries are ideal.
Denis Petrovich Ermolaev, 29 years old, Ruza
We grow blackberry Loch Ness in our summer cottage. Most of the berries are used for making juice and jam, we eat other varieties fresh. But the taste of Loch Ness blackberries is not so bad - a little sour, but that's not for everybody. Perhaps in the southern regions the fruits are sweeter, after all, we do not have enough sun for them. But what a bush and berries! You just can't take your eyes off, and from spring to late autumn!
Elena Pavlovna Samoilenko, 43 years old, Volgodonsk
I don't know who said Lochness blackberries are tasteless. We may not be foodies. But we can tell a good berry from a bad one. It is important to pick the blackberries at the stage of full ripeness, then they will be sweet and the aroma is excellent. And we also take care of our berry - we water it on time, and not from time to time, we feed it, we cut it off.