Choose the Right Site
For growing youngberry, choosing a suitable site is extremely important. Youngberries need full sun exposure for at least 6 to 8 hours per day and space to spread out as the plants grow vigorously. Select a spot with well-drained, fertile soil with a pH between 5 to 6.5. The soil should be loamy, humus-rich, and free of perennial weeds.
Avoid areas where tomatoes, eggplants, peppers or strawberries were previously grown to prevent verticillium wilt disease. Make sure there is good air circulation and no overhead shelters. Fence the area to protect the fruit from birds. Southern or western facing slopes are ideal for maximum sun exposure.
Test your soil to determine if any additional nutrients are required. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are essential for youngberry growth and fruit production. Add compost or other organic matter to improve soil structure and provide nutrients. Till the soil to the depth of 8 to 12 inches to allow for root spread.
With the right site and soil conditions, your youngberry plants will produce an abundant harvest. Careful planning and preparation will set the foundation for successful youngberry growing.
Prepare the Soil for Youngberry
Once you have selected a suitable site, preparing the soil properly is the next critical step for successful youngberry growing. Healthy, fertile, well-drained soil will produce the best yields and quality fruit.
Add 3 to 4 inches of organic matter such as compost or shredded leaves to the top 6 to 8 inches of soil and till thoroughly. Compost will improve soil structure, drainage, and moisture retention. It will also add essential nutrients to the soil that will aid in plant growth and fruit production.
A soil test is recommended to check the pH level and determine if any additional soil amendments are needed. The ideal pH range for youngberries is between 5 to 6.5. If the pH is too high or too low, it should be adjusted with the appropriate amendments before planting.
•Nitrogen promotes foliage and shoot growth. Lack of nitrogen will cause stunted growth and yellowing leaves.
•Phosphorus aids in root development, flowering and fruiting. Deficiency leads to lack of flowers and ripe fruit drop.
•Potassium helps produce healthy roots, stems, and fruit. It also helps with disease resistance. Deficiency results in mottled leaves, weak canes, and poor-quality fruit.
|Nutrient||Deficiency Symptoms||Optimum Level|
|Nitrogen||Stunted growth,yellowing leaves.||98-187 lbs/acre|
|Phosphorus||Lack of flowering and fruiting,ripe fruit drop.||51-210 lbs/acre|
|Potassium||Mottled leaves, weak canes,poor fruit quality||94-187 lbs/acre|
Fertilize according to soil test recommendations. Till recommended amendments into the top 8 to 12 inches of soil before planting. Healthy soil will produce healthy youngberry plants and optimum yields. Careful soil preparation is time well spent.
Once the soil has been properly prepared, you are ready to plant your youngberry canes.Youngberry plants should be spaced 6 to 8 feet apart, with 8 feet between rows. This allows for adequate air circulation as the plants grow and spread.
Dig a hole at least 2 feet deep and wide for each plant. Add compost or other organic matter to the hole and mix with the native soil. Place the plant in the center of the hole and backfill the soil around the roots, tamping gently to remove air pockets. Do not pile soil over the crown of the plant.
The crown, where the roots and canes meet, should remain at or just below the soil surface. Burying the crown too deep can lead to root rot and disease. spread the roots out in the hole before backfilling.
Water thoroughly after planting to help the roots establish themselves in the new location. Add a layer of mulch around the base of each plant, keeping it a few inches away from the crown. Mulch will help retain moisture in the soil and prevent weed growth.
Youngberry plants may produce a small harvest the first year after planting from buds on the canes. For the best yields, prune the plants after planting to select 3 to 4 of the healthiest and most vigorous canes to serve as the permanent framework. Remove any damaged or diseased canes.
The framework canes should be evenly spaced around the plant and secured to a trellis or wire to keep them upright as they grow. Side shoots that develop on the framework canes should also be tied for support. The plants will produce new canes each year which should be pruned as needed to prevent overcrowding.
Proper planting and establishment of your youngberry patch will get your plants off to a strong start. With the right conditions and care, youngberry plants can remain productive for 15-20 years or more. Choose a permanent spot, since the plants do not transplant well once established.
Youngberry Care Tips
Once planted, ongoing care and maintenance will help ensure a successful youngberry harvest. The plants require pruning, pest control, fertilizing, and adequate moisture to produce high yields of high quality fruit.
Water the plants regularly, especially for the first 3 years after planting while the roots are becoming established. Aim for about 1 to 2 inches of water per week. Never let the soil dry out completely. Mulching around the base of the plants will help retain moisture in the soil.
Fertilize the plants in early spring before buds open and again in late June or July after the first harvest. Use a balanced fruit fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassiumsuch as 10-10-10. Follow the directions on the product packaging for proper rates.
Pruning youngberry bushes helps to shape the plant, improve air circulation, and maximize yields. In late winter, prune away any damaged or diseased canes before the new growth starts in spring. After harvesting, prune the canes that fruited back to the ground to allow new canes to develop.
- In early spring, select 3-4 healthy new canes per plant to serve as permanent framework canes. Remove any competing new shoots.
- Tie the framework canes to the trellis as they grow to provide support. Prune the side shoots on the framework canes to 6-8 buds.
- Remove any shoots growing inward toward the center of the plant. Prune to open the center of the bush for better air circulation.
The major pests to watch for are spotted wing drosophila, aphids, and mites. Apply insecticidal sprays, especially after flowering and during fruiting according to directions. Birds may also feed on the ripe fruit. Bird netting, reflective tape, or noisemakers can be used as deterrents.
By providing the proper conditions for growth, your youngberry plants will thrive and produce abundant fruit for many years. Consistent care and maintenance is key to success. Check on your plants regularly to ensure all their needs are being met. Healthy, well-tended plants will reward you with bumper crops of delicious fruit.
Harvesting and Storage of Youngberry
After tending to your youngberry plants all season, you are finally ready to reap the rewards! Properly harvesting and storing your fruit will ensure you are able to enjoy this delicious treat for months to come.
Youngberries typically ripen 2-3 weeks after flowering in June or July, depending on your climate. Check your berries regularly as they start to ripen to catch them at their peak. Fully ripe youngberries will be deep purple-black in color and lightly soft when squeezed.
Use pruning shears to cut the fruit clusters from the canes. Leave some stem attached to the berries. Do not pick unripe fruit, as it will not ripen further after harvesting. Only pick what you can use right away or process within a few days.
To fresh eat the harvest, select fully ripe berries and wash gently under running water just before consuming. Pat the berries dry and refrigerate promptly. Properly stored, fresh youngberries will last up to 1 week in the refrigerator.
For longer term storage, youngberries freeze well and can be enjoyed for up to 10 months. Here are some tips for freezing your harvest:
- Wash the berries gently and pat dry with a towel or paper towels. Allow to air dry completely.
- Remove the stems and caps. This is optional but will make the fruit easier to use once thawed.
- Spread the berries in a single layer on a tray, cookie sheet or shallow pan. Freeze until firm, about 2 hours.
- Transfer the frozen berries to an airtight container, plastic freezer bag or vacuum seal bag.
- Label and date the package and return to the freezer immediately.
Cooked youngberries also make excellent jams, jellies, sauces, vinegars, and chutneys using classic recipes for blackberries or raspberries. Always use fully ripe berries for the best flavor. Cooked youngberries will last up to 3 weeks properly refrigerated or up to a year frozen.
With some advance planning, you can enjoy the delicious flavor of youngberries year-round. Proper harvesting and storage techniques will allow you to make the most of your bountiful harvest. Fresh or preserved, youngberries are a treat for the taste buds.