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Growing blackberries on personal plots is no longer exotic. High yield and excellent taste contributed to the rapid growth of the popularity of this fruit shrub. The article deals with one of the varieties of English selection - Helena blackberry.
The Helen Blackberry is an early ripening hybrid obtained in 1997 by Derek Jennings (UK) as a result of crossing Silvan and unidentified West American number forms. In the State Register, as of 2017, the Helen blackberry variety is not registered.
Description of berry culture
Blackberries of an early ripening period Helena belongs to the mildews - creeping varieties. It is a medium-sized raspberry-like shrub. Unlike the latter, it contains much more vitamins and minerals in its fruits. Description of the variety, photos, reviews of the Helena blackberry are presented below.
General understanding of the variety
The characteristics of the Helen blackberry variety are shown in the table:
Powerful, with short internodes, 1.5 - 1.8 m in height, sometimes up to 2 m, with well-developed lateral branching
Green, matte, elongated heart-shaped, with characteristic serrated edges, leaf plate with clearly readable veins, slightly fleecy
Number of shoots replacement
Superficial, well developed
The presence of thorns on the shoots
Black shiny berries of the Helena blackberry do not leave anyone indifferent. The main data on fruits are shown in the table:
Assignment of the variety
At the initial stage - ruby, at the stage of full ripeness - black, glossy
Up to 10 gr.
Sweet, with a cherry aftertaste and deep aroma
Difficult, small, poorly felt
There are few of them. The advantage of the Helena blackberry is its original taste, but it is much inferior to many other varieties, and according to the tasting data, Helen is not even in the top ten. A positive point is almost the earliest ripening period among black varieties, amicable ripeness of fruits and the absence of thorns on the shoots.
Flowering period and ripening time
Helena blackberries bloom late in June. Thanks to this, the flowers do not suffer from spring frosts. Certain difficulties can only arise if the plant is frozen over in winter. In this case, the affected fruit buds are difficult to bloom and poorly pollinated. Below is a photo of Helen's blackberry during flowering.
Fruiting of Helena blackberries is amicable, begins in the first decade of July. Ripening is not extended in time.
Among others, the Helen variety of blackberries shows very average yields. This is partly due to the weak growth of replacement shoots, as well as due to the low winter hardiness of the plant. The data of the complete first fruiting of some blackberry varieties are given in the table.
Productivity from 1 sq.m, kg
The figures given are statistics from field trials of the Research Institute of Horticulture in Skiernowice (Poland). In addition to a low yield, Helena blackberries show a very modest subsequent increase in productivity - about 200 grams, while other varieties - from 0.5 to 1.5 kg.
Scope of berries
The Helena blackberry variety is a dessert, therefore it is used fresh. It can also be used for making jams, compotes, fruit drinks. Due to the low yield and poor keeping quality of ripe berries, the question of industrial processing, as a rule, does not arise.
Disease and pest resistance
Helen's blackberries do not have stable immunity and are subject to the same characteristic diseases as other varieties. Therefore, it is imperative to take preventive measures.
Advantages and disadvantages
Helena blackberries ripen early and will delight the gardener with large ripe berries in early July. This is where her merits end. The disadvantages of Helen's blackberry are much more, here are just the main ones:
- low productivity;
- a small number of replacement shoots;
- tendency to chlorosis;
- weak frost resistance;
- no immunity to disease;
- poor transportability.
Thus, planting Helen's blackberries in a garden plot cannot be unambiguously recommended as promising.
You can propagate Helena blackberries in any traditional way. These include reproduction:
- root and green cuttings;
The first method is the most optimal. Its essence is as follows. In early August, two grooves 15 cm deep are dug from the bush, into which healthy annual shoots are laid, fixed with wire or a load and covered with earth.
The soil is mulched with sawdust and regularly watered. After about two months, the shoots of Helena's blackberries will take root and sprout. At this time, they can be cut off from the mother branch and transplanted to a new place along with a lump of earth.
When planting Helen's blackberries, consider what effect the bushes will have on the garden. And also whether the shrub itself will be able to grow and develop normally in the proposed conditions.
Helen Blackberries can be planted in both spring and fall. In regions with different climatic conditions, the timing for spring planting may be different, the following must be taken into account:
- The air temperature is not less than +15 degrees.
- The soil warmed up by at least 20 cm.
- The buds have not yet blossomed.
In the middle lane, this is the end of April - early May, in the southern regions - April, in the Far East - the first decade of May.
Planting Helen's blackberry seedlings in the fall should be carried out in such a way that at least a month remains before the first frosts.
Choosing the right place
Helen's blackberries will grow well in sunny, sheltered places. The ideal place would be to land on the south or southwest side along the fence. Places with possible stagnation of moisture, as well as with a groundwater level above one and a half meters, should be avoided. It is preferable to plant Helena blackberries on loamy and sandy loam soils.
Important! When planting, you should avoid the neighborhood with raspberries and strawberries, but next to an apple tree, Helena's blackberries will grow well.
Pits for planting Helen's blackberries must be made in advance, nutritious soil with which the roots of the seedlings will be covered, too. Usually they are prepared a month before planting so that the soil and substrate are saturated with air.
Pits should be at least 40x40x40 cm. They are made at a distance of 1.5-2 meters from each other.
Selection and preparation of seedlings
When planting Helena blackberries, it is better to use your own seedlings obtained from the mother bush. In this case, the offshoot will be with a lump of earth and will easily transfer the transplant to a new place.
If the roots are open, then they should be moist. Before planting, such Helen blackberry seedlings should be soaked for several hours in a root growth stimulator.
Algorithm and scheme of landing
Prepared pits are filled with nutrient soil by 2/3. It should include:
- compost or humus - 5 kg.
- superphosphate - 120 gr.
- potassium sulfate - 40 gr.
The components must be mixed with turf soil. Helena blackberry seedlings are planted vertically, deepening the root collar by 2-3 cm and covered with soil. The soil around the plant must be compacted and watered with 5 liters of water, and then the tree trunk circle must be mulched with sawdust or peat.
Follow-up care of the culture
The planted plant needs to be watered regularly for 40-50 days. Then the watering frequency can be reduced and the weather oriented. Also, the obligatory measures for caring for Helen's blackberries include pruning, garter on trellises, feeding, watering and shelter for the winter.
Helen's blackberries must be tied to trellises. Usually, two or three rows of wire are pulled for this, at a height of 0.7, 1.2 and 1.7 meters. The garter principle is fan-shaped. Lateral shoots are tied to the lower trellis, the central ones to the middle and upper ones.
Helen's blackberries need watering only during the period of fruit ripening. Excess moisture is harmful to her. After watering, the soil can be loosened and mulched with sawdust or straw.
Feeding Helena's blackberries is done in two stages. In the spring, nitrogen fertilizers are applied (ammonium nitrate - 50 grams for each bush) to stimulate the growth of annual shoots. In the fall, after the end of fruiting, the bushes are fed with superphosphate and potassium sulfate (100 and 30 grams, respectively), applying fertilizers along with humus to the trunk circles during their digging.
Important! Autumn feeding is done every three years.
Pruning Helen's blackberries is done in the fall and spring. In the fall, two-year-old, fruiting shoots are cut out at the root, in the spring, a sanitary cut is made of branches broken and dead during the winter.
Important! To increase the yield, the Helena blackberry shoots can be pinched when they reach a length of 1.2-1.5 meters, but in this case the plant will become more branchy and it will be more difficult to cover it for the winter.
Preparing for winter
For Helena Blackberries, winter shelter is a must. Shoots are removed from the trellis, tied together, bent to the ground and covered with two layers of agrofibre.
Diseases and pests: methods of control and prevention
Helen's blackberries are not inherently immune to disease. The table lists the most common diseases.
What is it manifested in
Prevention and treatment
Growths of green and then brown color on the roots and root collar
It is not treated. Affected plants are burned. The site is treated with Bordeaux liquid.
Weak growth, leaves turn bright green, wrinkled, curled inward. Flowers are not pollinated
It is not treated. A diseased plant must be burned
Chaotic yellow spots on the leaves, thinning of the shoots. Frost resistance is greatly reduced
There is no cure. The plant needs to be dug up and burned
The leaves turn yellow, the veins remain green. Shoots stop growing
The virus is carried by aphids, the diseased plant is destroyed along with the aphids
Gray spots on leaves, less often on shoots. Gray ulcers on berries
It is not treated. The diseased plant is destroyed. For prevention, I treat the bushes with fungicides three times a season
Septoria (white spot)
Round brown spots with a thin border on the leaves, black spots of the fungus. Mucus appears on the berries, they rot
It is not treated. Prevention is the same as for anthracnose.
Didymella (purple spot)
Drying of leaves, wilting of shoots. Purple spots on the stem.
Thinning plantings, spraying with 2% Bordeaux mixture
Botrytis (gray rot)
Berries and shoots are affected by a gray, fleecy bloom, later rot
Treatment of bushes with fungicides, with a change after re-application
In addition to diseases, the Helena blackberry bushes can be attacked by pests. The table shows the main insects that are dangerous for this variety.
Fight and prevention
Leaves, a thin cobweb appears on the affected bushes
Cleaning and burning of all old leaves. Triple treatment with fungicides (Aktofit, Fitoverm, etc.) with an interval of 7 days after the opening of the first leaves
Berries, affected fruits do not ripen and remain red
Treatment of bushes with drugs Envidor, BI-58 before bud break
Raspberry stem fly
The tops of the shoots, the larvae of flies gnaw their passages inside them, then descending along the shoot down for the winter
There are no chemical methods, the tops of the shoots are cut off and burned immediately after wilting is detected
All parts, from roots to flowers, gnawing holes in them
Digging up the soil, cleaning rot. A week before flowering, the bushes are treated with Iskra, Fufagon, etc.
Unfortunately, the facts do not allow us to unambiguously recommend the Helen blackberry variety as promising for cultivation. Low yield, not the best taste with a pronounced tendency to freeze. It is more suitable for a variety, as an addition to the main crops of the garden. Helena's blackberry is not suitable for commercial production.
To better determine the choice of variety, you can watch the following video about Helen's blackberries
Reviews about Helen's blackberry are controversial.
Andrey Pavlovich Mokhov, 49 years old, Moscow
Helen planted a thornless blackberry for the sake of experiment. Honestly, I expected more. In the first year, it was very frozen. The yield is low. The taste is excellent, but while you take the berries home from the dacha - porridge.
Oleg Viktorovich Yanko, 67 years old, Voronezh
The grandchildren asked to plant the blackberry, they wanted black berries. So I planted the Helen variety. It does not stand out in any way, the yield is not bad, the grandchildren are happy to eat right from the bush.
Nina Sergeevna Ivanova, 52 years old, Stavropol Territory
I have long wanted to plant a blackberry near the house. The neighbors praised the Helena variety. I bought some seedlings, for the third year I have four bushes. I like it, the taste is good, but the berries flow strongly.