Oregonians have a love/hate relationship with blackberries. They love the juicy, dark fruit; but hate the way the vines can take over areas of our yards and pastures.

Russ Dixon, president of Reclaim, Inc. in Ashland, thinks he's developed a way to eradicate the devilish, thorny vines from unwanted areas for several years. Dixon has a pending patent on a brush rake that attaches to a Bobcat tractor.

Dixon can clear a 20-by-100-foot blackberry patch in 10 minutes with the rake attachment.

"The traditional way for dealing with blackberries around here is to mow them," he said. "That's not very effective because unless you get them pulled up by the roots, they're just going to keep coming back."

Dixon's specially designed brush rake digs the blackberries up by the roots and he said they won't be back for three to four years.

Keith Corp, who has a ranch out by Emigrant Lake, experienced Dixon's "blackberry annihilation machine" first-hand.

He said plenty of machines have attempted to get rid of the vines from his property.

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"But the advantage Russ's machine has is the teeth on the rake," said Corp. "I had to do a little spot spraying afterwards. But yeah, I don't think anything will come up for a few years."

Corp said he laughs when he hears people say they're just going to dig up the blackberries by hand.

"Oregon has a very special variety of blackberries," he said. "They're carnivorous &

you put your hand in the vines and you come out with a bloody stump."

While the man-eating, blackberry vine comment is just a joke, the truth is, the Himalayan blackberry found wild all over the state is not native to the area.

Marsha Waite, coordinator for Jackson County Master Gardeners, said the Western European variety was introduced in the U.S. in 1885.

"The temperature and growing conditions here are ideal, even with no supplemental water in the summer," she said. "Birds and raccoons like them as much as people, so they get dispersed all over the place. Even if a tip of a vine gets into the soil, a new plant emerges."

Waite said blackberries naturalized in the west in 1945, and they've been a problem ever since. But the problem might be solved if Dixon's "blackberry annihilation machine" has any say in the matter.

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