Uptake and Partitioning of Nutrients in Blackberry and Raspberry and Evaluating Plant Nutrient Status for Accurate Assessment of Fertilizer Requirements

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  • Raspberry and blackberry (Rubus sp.) plantings have a relatively low nutrient requirement compared with many other perennial fruit crops. Knowledge of annual accumulation of nutrients and periods of rapid uptake allows for better management of fertilization programs. Annual total nitrogen (N) accumulation in the aboveground plant ranged from 62 to 110 and 33 to 39 lb/acre in field-grown red raspberry (Rubus idaeus) and blackberry (Rubus ssp. rubus), respectively. Research on the fate of applied ¹⁵N (a naturally occurring istope of N) has shown that primocanes rely primarily on fertilizer N for growth, whereas floricane growth is highly dependent on stored N in the over-wintering primocanes, crown, and roots; from 30% to 40% of stored N was allocated to new growth. Plants receiving higher rates of N fertilizer took up more N, often leading to higher N concentrations in the tissues, including the fruit. Reallocation of N from senescing floricanes and primocane leaves to canes, crown, and roots has been documented. Accumulation of other macro- and micronutrients in plant parts usually preceded growth. Primocanes generally contained the highest concentration of most nutrients during the growing season, except calcium (Ca), copper (Cu), and zinc (Zn), which often were more concentrated in roots. Roots typically contained the highest concentration of all nutrients during winter dormancy. Nutrient partitioning varied considerably among elements due to different nutrient concentrations and requirements in each raspberry and blackberry plant part. This difference not only affected the proportion of each nutrient allocated to plant parts, but also the relative amount of each nutrient lost or removed during harvest, leaf senescence, and pruning. Macro- and micronutrient concentrations are similar for raspberry and blackberry fruit, resulting in a similar quantity of nutrient removed with each ton of fruit at harvest; however, yield may differ among cultivars and production systems. Nutrient removal in harvested red raspberry and blackberry fruit ranged from 11 to 18 lb/acre N, 10 to 19 lb/acre potassium (K), 2 to 4 lb/acre phosphorus (P), 1 to 2 lb/acre Ca, and 1 to 4 lb/acre magnesium (Mg). Pruning senescing floricanes in August led to greater plant nutrient losses than pruning in autumn. Primocane leaf nutrient status is often used in nutrient management programs. Leaf nutrient concentrations differ with primocane leaf sampling time and cultivar. In Oregon, the present recommended sampling time of late July to early August is acceptable for floricane-fruiting raspberry and blackberry types, and primocane-fruiting raspberry, but not for primocane-fruiting blackberry, where sampling leaves on primocane branches during the green fruit stage is recommended. Presently published leaf tissue standards appear to be too high for K in primocane-fruiting raspberry and blackberry, which is not surprising since the primocanes are producing fruit at the time of sampling and fruit contain a substantial amount of K.
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  • Keywords: leaf tissue analysis, nutrient removal, organic, Rubus, fertilization, nitrogen
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  • Strik, B. C., & Bryla, D. R. (2015). Uptake and partitioning of nutrients in blackberry and raspberry and evaluating plant nutrient status for accurate assessment of fertilizer requirements. HortTechnology, 25(4), 452-459.
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  • 25
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  • 4
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  • This paper was part of the colloquium "Recent Advances in Perennial Berry Crop Nutrition and Directions for Future Research" held 28 July 2014 at the ASHS Annual Conference, Orlando, FL and sponsored by the Viticulture and Small Fruit (VSF) Working Group.
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