Blackberries grow wild along creek banks in many parts of Texas, favoring any spot with deep, sandy soil and a steady source of moisture. Both Texas A&M and the University of Arkansas developed several commercially important blackberry varieties specially suited to East Texas conditions. These domestic blackberry cultivars offer high yields, large berry size and excellent flavor. Blackberries prosper in a variety of well-drained soils. The plants do require weekly irrigation or rainfall.
Select a blackberry variety suited for the East Texas climate. Brazos blackberry yields well and produces large berries good for cooking. Cheyenne produces sweeter berries better for eating fresh. Kiowa makes berries 25 percent bigger than Brazos, with good flavor and good shipping qualities. Softer and sweeter types make good choices for home gardens and personal use.
Till the berry bed for a late winter planting and trench the middle 4 inches deep. Place root cuttings or blackberry plants in the trench every 3 or 4 feet and cover with soil. Keep canes upright. Make rows 8 to 10 feet apart for easy cultivation and harvest. Install drip irrigation if needed.
Drive a single row of metal fence posts down the center of the bed spaced every 15 feet. Drive a support stake deeply into the ground at either end of the bed. Angle it away from the line of posts at 45 degrees. String two support wires on the posts. Clip the lower wire to the posts at 2-1/2 feet and the top wire at 4 feet. Anchor the low wire to one support stake and tighten it--then wrap it to the other support. Repeat with the top wire.
Apply a full spectrum fertilizer when the blackberry plants show fresh growth in spring. Testing the soil gives an accurate view of specific nutrients needed. After the first year, only use nitrogen fertilizer. Scatter the fertilizer in a narrow band on the surface of the bed. Adjust soil pH only if test results fall outside the blackberry's preferred range from 4.5 to 7.5.
In early summer cut all but the two strongest canes on each plant back to the ground. Clip one cane three inches above the low wire and the other cane three inches above the high wire. Tie each loosely to the trellis. When side branches develop, tie them to grow horizontally on each wire.