Today there are more than 400 varieties of cultivated blackberries. Unlike its wild relative, it has large sweet berries, can be remontant and devoid of thorns. But garden varieties require shelter for the winter and, albeit minimal, but careful maintenance. Summer residents who visit their small land plot from time to time find it difficult to grow an elite blackberry. Therefore, they are looking for an alternative - a variety that is unpretentious in care, resistant to the vagaries of the weather and at the same time giving a good harvest.
Perhaps gourmets will find the Agave blackberry unworthy of their attention. But those gardeners who started this variety on the site are in no hurry to part with it. Why? The berries are small, the taste cannot be compared with modern cultivars, the thorns are large, curved and very sharp. Moreover, the growth gives such that it is almost impossible to cope with it. What is the secret of the blackberry Agave? Let's take a closer look at this variety.
The blackberry variety Agawam was created in the middle of the 19th century. Little is known about its origin. It can be said for sure that the variety was created in the United States, and the wild North American species of blackberries acted as parent crops. Some sources claim that Agavam has been known since 1865.
In 2006, the variety was included in the State Register and recommended for cultivation in all regions of Russia.
Description of berry culture
Blackberry Agavam at the time of its creation was considered tasty and rather large. It was grown as an industrial crop, for more than 80 years this variety held the palm in prevalence in Europe and America.
General understanding of the variety
The Agawam blackberry forms a powerful, compact shrub. This is a typical kumanika. Its thick pentahedral shoots with drooping tops are densely covered with brown spines bent downwards. The spines are medium in size, but very sharp and tough. Young shoots are green, darken by the end of the growing season, last year's whips are brown.
The leaves have a shape characteristic of the agave variety - all the plates diverge from one point. They are corrugated, strongly pubescent, with a strongly tapered tip. The central veins on the back are covered with thorns, though much smaller than the thorns on the shoots. The size of the leaves is medium, the color is green. They are firmly attached to the lashes. Even in winter, the Agave blackberry often leaves leafy.
The ability to form shoots in this variety is average. But Agave shoots form a lot, and it is difficult to deal with it - neither digging in the curb, nor covering the soil with slate or metal sheets helps.
Fruiting of this blackberry occurs on last year's growth.
The fruits of the Agawam blackberry are medium in size - from 4 to 5 g, slightly pubescent. They are colored black and have the shape of a truncated cone or oval. The fastening of the berry to the short prickly stalk is medium. Each cluster consists of 15-20 fruits of varying maturity.
The taste of ripe blackberries is sweet and sour, with a delicate aroma, the fruits are dense and tolerate transportation well. Overripe berries become soft, watery and freshish. At the stage of technical ripeness, their taste and aroma resembles grass, they are not even too sour. So you need to pick Agave blackberries on time.
Perhaps that is why the tasting score of berries is low - only 3.5 points. Reviews of gardeners about the blackberry Agave vary. Some consider it a junk variety and advise replacing it with another one, with large sweet berries and no thorns. Others, on the other hand, argue that if you collect the Agawam blackberry on time, then no capricious, studless new products are needed.
Before moving on to the characteristics of the blackberry Agave, we remind you that this is one of the first varieties, bred about 150 years ago. And to this day, it is planted both on industrial plantations and in private households. If you want to close the tab and move on to other varieties, first watch the video about the Agavam blackberry grown without shelter in the south of the Moscow region. Listen to what the hostess says about her, who does not want to get involved with studless novelties:
Agawam blackberry is one of the most frost-resistant varieties. It can really be grown without shelter in Ukraine, Belarus and Central Russia. When creating modern varieties, Agavam is used as a donor of frost resistance. It easily tolerates a short-term drop in temperature to -25-30⁰ C. Unlike cultivars of Polish selection, the flower buds of the Agavam variety freeze a little.
But this blackberry does not like extreme heat - the berries can be baked. In the southern regions, it can be planted in partial shade - this will have little effect on the harvest. Average drought tolerance is a relative term. Any blackberry needs to be watered regularly if you want to achieve a good harvest. The Agavam variety will respond to poor soil moisture with a small berry.
This blackberry makes less demands on soils than other varieties - it will grow even on soil with a neutral reaction.
The transportability of the berries is good at the stage of technical and full ripeness. You cannot let it overripe - then the fruits will be suitable only for processing, but their taste will not be the best (just by 3.5 points).
All care problems come down to the inconvenience caused by sharp and curved thorns. This complicates the harvest, and in those regions where the winter is so harsh that the lashes still need to be covered, shelter for the winter.
Flowering period and ripening time
The Agawam blackberry blooms in May. In the southern regions, white-petaled buds open 7-10 days earlier than in the north. During flowering, the bush is completely covered with a white blanket and looks very elegant.
Berries ripen unevenly. The bulk reaches ripeness by mid-August. For blackberries, these are average terms.
Yield indicators, fruiting dates
The average yield of Agavam blackberries is about 100 c / ha. And this despite the fact that 30 c / ha is considered a good indicator! Such a yield is achieved due to the dense plantings and the fact that the Agawam variety has good shade tolerance - even those berries that do not have enough light ripen.
Important! This does not mean that blackberries can be planted in deep shade!
From one bush collect from 5 to 15 kg of berries. Fruiting is extended. It is better to pick blackberries for Agaves at the stage of full ripeness, since at the stage of technical maturity or overexposed, they have a mediocre taste.
Scope of berries
Agawam blackberries can be eaten fresh, frozen or processed. They say that the most delicious jam is obtained from this particular variety.
Disease and pest resistance
Blackberry Agavam is resistant to pests and diseases at the level of other varieties. If the berries are not picked in time, gray rot may appear on them.
Advantages and disadvantages
Of course, the newest varieties are devoid of thorns, sweeter and more aromatic. Yes, and in the photo of the blackberry Agave you can see that its berries are not as beautiful as those of Black Magic, Triple Crown or Karak Black. But it has a number of advantages:
- High productivity.
- The bush grows rapidly.
- Agawam is one of the most cold tolerant varieties (including flower buds). Even in the suburbs, you can not shelter it for the winter.
- Unpretentious care.
- Resistant to soaking.
- Shade tolerance (not to be confused with shade-loving).
- Agavam variety is undemanding to soil more than other blackberries.
- Disease and pest resistance.
- The versatility of using berries.
- Elongation of fruiting.
- A bush grows in one place and bears fruit for 15 years or more.
- Agawam is old and tried. We know exactly what to expect from him.
The disadvantages include:
- Studs of shoots and leaves.
- Mediocre taste of overripe or unripe berries. You need to get used to collecting them on time.
- A huge number of root shoots. It is very difficult to deal with it.
- In the northern regions, shelter for the winter is difficult.
- The size of the berries is small.
Oddly enough, the unpretentious Agavam variety reproduces poorly by layering and pulping. And the point here is not that thick erect lashes are difficult to bend to the ground. They take root badly! Only 1 cut out of 10 will take root well.
But the variety will give so much overgrowth that you will not know where to put it.
Agaves are planted in the same way as other varieties. Even if you deviate somewhere from the generally accepted rules, it will not be critical, as when placing elite blackberries on plots.
The Agavam variety is planted in the south in the fall, no later than a month before the onset of frost. In the northern regions, this is best done in the spring, when the soil warms up. Then the blackberry will have time to get used to the site and winters well.
Choosing the right place
Here we can afford more liberties than with other varieties. Agavam blackberries are not afraid of getting wet, so they can be planted in lowlands.
Important! This does not apply to wetlands! Even Agawam cannot be planted there.
The soil can be not only slightly acidic, but also neutral. But if it's not a problem for you to buy some ginger (horse) peat, you'd better spend your money on it. And then later you will have to purchase chelates - blackberries are prone to chlorosis, namely, the increased acidity of the soil helps to avoid it.
Agavam can be planted in partial shade. In this he is similar to his wild relatives, often living in the undergrowth under the canopy of trees with an openwork crown. In the south, such a planting is even preferable - the berry will be baked less. In cold regions, choose a location that is well lit and sheltered from the wind.
It is better to follow all the rules of planting and soil preparation, even for the Agavam blackberry variety. Then it will be easier for you to look after her. So, dig a planting hole with a depth and diameter of 50 cm. Mix the layer of earth removed from above with a bucket of humus, 50 g of potash and 120-150 g of phosphorus fertilizers. If the soil:
- dense - add sand;
- sour - lime;
- carbonate - organic;
- alkaline or neutral - sour (red, high-moor) peat.
Mix everything well, fill the planting hole 2/3 and fill it with water.
Selection and preparation of seedlings
There should be no problems with the purchase of Agawam blackberry seedlings - the variety is quite common. Make sure the root is well developed. Do not be too lazy to smell it - it should smell like fresh earth.
But remember that the Agavam variety is not among the most popular. Saplings may be stale. Make sure the shoots are flexible and free from cracks, wrinkles, or other damage.
On the eve of planting, water the plant in a container and soak the bare root in water.
Algorithm and scheme of landing
Single bushes of blackberry agave can be placed at a distance of 2 m from each other. For a large number of seedlings, a compacted planting of 1.0-1.5 m is possible.The distance between rows is 2-3 m.
Advice! If possible, do not thicken it, it will be easier to care for, because the Agawam variety is equipped with very unpleasant thorns.
Form a mound in the center of the planting pit, straighten the roots around it and cover it with nutritious soil. Compact the ground and pour a bucket of water over it. It remains to mulch the planting site with humus or peat.
Important! The root collar should be 1.5-2.0 cm deep.
Follow-up care of the culture
Growing a blackberry agave could be easy and enjoyable, but its shoots and even leaves are covered in thorns.
The shoots of the Agawam variety, although thick and erect, reach 3 m. They need to be tied to a trellis. It is best to distribute the fruiting lashes evenly on a horizontal support, about 25 cm apart on one side. Young growth should be tied in the same way on the other side. This will make it easier to pick berries.
The following factors affect the yield of Agawam blackberries:
- Regular watering. With a lack of moisture, the berries become smaller.
- Pruning. Some gardeners leave dry, finished fruiting last year, lashes so as not to injure their hands. They say, they are still dead and do not consume either water or nutrients. But the harvest at the same time falls significantly.
- In the northern regions, the berries will be less in the shade, in the south - on the contrary, under the scorching sun.
- Naturally, if you want to get a good harvest, the blackberries will have to be fertilized.
Agaves need to be watered regularly. Immediately after planting - twice a week, then - as the soil dries out.
In the spring, the Agawam variety is fed with nitrogen, during the opening of the buds - with full mineral fertilizer, after harvesting - with potassium monophosphate. During extreme heat, rainy or cool summers, spraying with epin and zircon alternately every 2 weeks is useful. It is good to add chelates to the balloon, especially if the leaves turn yellow and the veins remain green (this is a sign of chlorosis).
In spring and autumn, it is imperative to loosen the soil under the blackberry. During flowering and fruiting, this procedure can be replaced by mulching - peat, humus, cut grass. So the root will suffer less from the heat, it will become difficult for weeds to germinate, and the soil will retain moisture longer.
Even if you are not going to cover the Agaves for the winter, be sure to cut the shoots that have finished fruiting to the ground level. If you run out of time in the fall, do it in the spring! This will significantly increase the yield.
The first 3 years the Agawam variety does not need to be formed. Only in the fourth year of life do the shoots begin to grow in full force. Only old, frozen, dry and broken twigs are removed. Be sure to cut out all the whips with signs of disease.
On an adult bush, 4-6 strong shoots are left for fruiting. As it grows, tweezers are made - 7-10 cm of the tops are cut off from the side shoots. So they will branch better and give more fruit clusters.
Unlike other varieties, the Agave blackberry gives a lot of growth. It cannot be limited by digging in a curb or laying slate, iron sheets or other material around bushes. Agawam is omnipresent! He will cope with any obstacle and will still germinate. If you do not need seedlings, you will have to regularly cut the growth at ground level.
So pruning Agave blackberries is a mandatory and troublesome procedure.
Preparing for winter
In the southern regions and most of Central Russia, the Agave blackberry can not be sheltered for the winter. Where insulation is still needed, it is better to pay attention to other varieties. If there were a studless blackberry Agave, it would be difficult to cover it because of its powerful erect shoots, but it is possible. But bending thorny, badly bending lashes is problematic. And why, if there are more than 400 varieties, many of which either do not have thorns or are malleable shoots.
You can try covering the Agawam blackberry directly on the trellis. To do this, sprinkle the root with soil, and hang the shoots directly on the support with burlap and agrofibre. It is important to firmly anchor the covering material and prevent it from icing up.
Diseases and pests: methods of control and prevention
If you do not plant raspberries, nightshades or strawberries next to blackberries, they will rarely get sick. The recommended distance is 50 m.
For prophylaxis, in spring and autumn, shoots are treated with preparations containing copper.
Of course, Agavam is an old variety. But it does not need to be covered in most regions, and in general it is considered one of the healthiest due to its close relationship with the wild species of blackberry. And its taste is not so bad if you pick the berries on time. That is why many experienced gardeners are in no hurry to part with the old proven blackberry Agave variety.
Lyudmila Igorevna Velichko, 52 years old, Kherson
I do not recommend the commercial production of Agawam blackberries. And it's not even about the thorns, because of which it is difficult to harvest.It's just that the berry is baked in open spaces. In a small area, you can plant several bushes so that the sun illuminates them for part of the day. In large areas, you have to buy a shading mesh, pull and fix it. And this is additional funds and labor costs. So the berry will turn out to be golden in the literal sense of the word.
Zhanna Valerievna Kucherevskaya, 39 years old, Stupino
Blackberry Agavam grows beautifully with us. I chose this prickly variety only because it does not need to be covered for the winter. I planted two bushes, I thought we would cook jam, add it to baked goods. But the berry turned out to be very tasty. I don't know, maybe there are better ones, but we like it. So now we have not two, but ten bushes growing. We gorge ourselves, treat our friends. And we also prepare juice, wine, jam. Well, and we are struggling with the overgrowth, where can you get to from it.