A heavy timber harvest leads to scratches, stains, and engorging of blackberries.
Our small property was hammered by a logger shortly before we purchased it, leaving it with few merchantable trees. There was a major upside to this though, or so we thought. Removing so many dominant canopy trees allowed far more light to reach the ground. This allowed the raspberry and blackberry seeds that have likely been in the ground for quite awhile to proliferate. They were spread by mammals years ago and were just waiting for this extra light to take off. The rhizomes by which they also spread only hastened the growth. They were pretty much everywhere.
Opening created by timber harvest filled with berries
Raspberries and blackberries are in the same genus, Rubus. They also share the same family as roses, Rosaceae. Maybe the thorns should’ve given that away. The first summer here we were excited to see thousands of green berries. Raspberries begin to ripen early on in the summer, while August is the month of the blackberry.
Ripe red raspberry
The raspberries ripened just fine and many judge their taste to be superior. The only problem is that they do not occur in nearly the same numbers as blackberries. They are generally more for hand-to-mouth picking. So, while we enjoyed the raspberries we were waiting for the blackberries to turn, black.
They never did. We seemed to get a good amount of both rain and sun, so that didn’t not seem to be the problem. Results of an internet search suggested an infestation of the microscopic redberry mite. They inject a toxin in the berries that prevent them from ripening. These mites supposedly stick around for several years. Uh oh.
The following summer the same scenario played out, except the blackberries did in fact ripen by the thousands. Because of this I doubt it was a redberry mite infestation. We also had similar weather conditions as the previous summer. If anything, things were drier early in the season. I am stumped.
Regardless of why, we did have all of these berries. I suppose the proper way to deal with all of the thorns would be to don heavy clothing and fingerless gloves so you can still feel to pick. I am not quite that dedicated in the heat of August, but we still managed to collect several gallons along the trails. Even so, scratched hands and sides are inevitable if you want to reach for the juicy ones.
As the remaining trees’ canopies spread out and occupy the gaps that were created from the timber harvest, there will be less light reaching the ground for the berries. They will die back until they are only present along the most open of trails. I don’t mind this too much as it will make it far easier to walk off-trail, but we better take advantage of the excellent, albeit painful, foraging while we still can.