University of Maryland Extension

Best Practices | Small Fruits

  Blackberries, blueberries and raspberries     grape cluster 
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Best Practices for Planting Small Fruits

  • Locate your small fruit planting in full sun. However, blueberries, currants, and gooseberries tolerate partial shade. In warmer regions of the state, blueberries and raspberries may prefer light shade from hot, late afternoon sun.
  • They prefer deep, well-drained soil high in organic matter but will yield in average soil with care. 
  • Take a soil test at least 6 months prior to planting and adjust pH and fertility levels according to test results. A 6.0 to 6.5 pH is desirable with the exception of blueberries which prefer a pH of 4.3 - 5.3. Also incorporate organic matter, like compost and well-aged manure. 
  • Don't plant small fruit plants on a site with difficult perennial weeds like thistle, nutsedge, and bindweed until they have been controlled. 
  • Purchase certified, disease-free plants from a reputable nursery.  

Best Practices for Maintaining Small Fruits

  • Remove and discard all diseased or infested plant parts regularly, including leaves and fruits on the ground.
  • Pick your fruit often; do not allow fruit to become over-ripe or fall to the ground.
  • Prune to encourage air circulation and maintain plants at a manageable height. Remove water sprouts, unwanted root suckers and wilted canes.
  • Keep weeds cut down in and around your fruit plantings to remove favorable habitats for pests.
  • Correctly identify problems of small fruits. If it is caused by insect or disease, learn about the life cycle and habits.
  • Learn to anticipate and prevent problems. Monitor problems for worsening symptoms. If the evel of pest damage becomes unacceptable, choose the least-toxic control.
  • Do not assume that plant problems are caused by insects and diseases. A large number of problems are caused by cultural and environmental factors. These include: insufficient water, nutrients, space, sunlight and support, poor soil, low pH, temperature extremes, and root damage from cultivation.
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