Control of Blackberries


Do's and don'ts of blackberry control

Blackberry fruit

Do's

  • Plan your control program, this will save time and money in the long-run;
  • Consider the impact of your control methods on off-target species, especially if herbicides are used;
  • Ensure machinery and equipment is washed down between sites or prior to contractors leaving site;
  • Get in early - For new infestations, eradicate before the plants reach the flowering stage: once plants begin seeding, control becomes more difficult and expensive;
  • Carefully time your use of herbicide for best results (see Herbicides for Blackberry Control for more information);
  • Coordinate your control program with neighbouring landholders where your weed problem crosses property boundaries;
  • Revisit and regularly inspect the site and ensure follow-up is undertaken; and
  • Use a combination of different control methods.

Don'ts

  • Don't introduce blackberry to blackberry-free areas (e.g. by failing to wash down machinery and equipment between sites);
  • Don't start your control program without first planning your approach;
  • Don't allow blackberry to flower and set seed before treatment;
  • Don't rely on one attempt at removal - follow-up is essential;
  • Don't rely on just one control method;
  • Never burn blackberry without follow up treatment of regrowth; and
  • Do not burn blackberry in native vegetation.

Spread of blackberry

  • Blackberry fruits are eaten by many birds and animals which then spread the seed. The seeds survive in the droppings and can be transported large distances from the parent bush. Blackberry seed is also spread by water in creeks and rivers.
  • The canes of blackberries are also able to send out roots at the tip where they touch the ground, allowing uncontrolled patches of blackberries to cover large areas. Blackberries will also grow from root suckers and root fragments.

Physical removal

  • Physical removal by repeated slashing may limit the spread of blackberries but it is not an effective method of control when used alone. Blackberry will regenerate from root suckers, and whole canes growing along the ground will often be missed by the slasher blades.

Cultivation

  • Competition from well managed pasture will help prevent the establishment and spread of blackberries on grazing land.
  • Where machinery can be used, established blackberry thickets can be dozed out and the area deep-cultivated to destroy the root system. Repeated cultivation is necessary to destroy seedlings and regrowth before the area is sown to pasture or crop.
  • Seedlings and regrowth from root fragments can also be sprayed for one or two seasons after physical removal.

Burning

  • Large infestations of blackberry can be removed by burning. However, follow-up treatment of regrowth by herbicide, grazing or cultivation is essential.
  • Blackberry thickets pose a fire risk and care should be taken in burning blackberry near native or other valuable vegetation, fences and buildings.

Grazing

  • Goats readily eat blackberries and are capable of destroying large infestations.
  • Sheep are useful to some extent in the control of blackberries because they eat seedlings and young tip growth.

Biological control

  • Biological control is the use of a living species, usually an insect, mite or disease, to control a weed;
  • Biological control will not eradicate blackberry, but may be used in conjunction with other control methods;
  • Biological control agents for blackberry that have been released in Tasmania include the Blackberry leaf rust fungus.
  • For more information on biological control programs in Tasmania contact the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture.

Chemical control

  • A number of herbicides are registered for use on blackberry in Tasmania. See Herbicides for Blackberry Control for more information.
  • Herbicide spraying of blackberries works best when carried out in the period from petal fall to leaf fall, usually from December to May.
  • For all herbicides, complete coverage of all canes and leaves is essential, including those growing from suckers away from the main bush.
  • Regrowth after slashing, burning, or grazing should be at least 50 cm high before herbicide application.

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