Prune Fruit-Bearing Canes This allows for better air flow, and helps the remaining canes to set a prolific amount of good-sized berries. Only remove the canes that bore fruit that year. During dormancy, shorten too-long canes to about 7 feet, then shorten the side shoots to 1 to 1 1/2 feet. Pruning Blackberries. First of all, no thorns, and secondly the berries on the cultivated bushes are bigger and sweeter than those in the wild. % of people told us that this article helped them. Extreme cold temperatures might kill some of your blackberry canes. In the first spring, when new canes emerge from the base of the stool, cut back any old wood to soil level. Whether thorny or thornless, it really helps to have the right tools when you’re taming a blackberry bush. Less vigorous erect blackberries should be headed to a height between 36 and 48 inches (91 and 122 cm), and semi-erect blackberries should be headed down until they are roughly 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) above the top trellis wire. Learn how to plant, prune and pick the best blackberries while avoiding many common problems. There’s an advantage to pruning blackberries in the spring verses the fall. Cutting off most of the stem also removes any potentially damaged or diseased tissue that may have been on the stem. Most berry bushes bear only once on 2-year-old canes. Once a cane stiffens, it will be able to support the weight of fruit and foliage better, making it less likely to break. I’ve had some people ask why would you bother growing blackberries when you can pick them wild. Sharpen a pair of pruning shears before taking blackberry cuttings to avoid crushing the cuttings. How to thin peaches for healthier trees and better harvests, How to pasteurize potting soil (and why you’d want to! There are two reasons really. I’m a huge fan of Fiskars’ 32″ power loppers. Plant your blackberries close to a water source, as they will most likely need extra irrigation. It wasn’t until after we bought our homestead and discovered a patch of wonderful, but long-neglected blackberry bushes, that I learned the importance of pruning blackberries, and how to do it properly. To help understand the pruning process, it’s helpful to understand how blackberries grow and set fruit. Wild Blueberry Fact Sheet Pruning Wild Blueberries: Principles and Practices Growth Habits and Pruning Method of Pruning o Burning o Mowing o Combining Mowing and Burning When to Prune Frequency of Prune Growth Habits and Pruning Once a wild blueberry seed germinates and sprouts into a plant, rhizomes (underground stems) are soon This article has been viewed 25,021 times. ), How to Transplant Raspberries in Summer (if you must), Handmade Christmas stockings from an old quilt. Remove weak primocanes when you cut off dying floricanes after your floricane harvest. You simply need to remove the dead canes at the end of the blackberry growing season. These blackberries grow wild at the plot and if they're kept under control you can train the wild sprouts into some really decent plants and make use of the fruits that come with them. For blackberries. Read our PRIVACY POLICY here. Pruning helps maintain tangle-free blackberry bushes and keeps them confined to their space. Pull on work gloves, especially if the blackberry bushes have thorns. This will encourage more lateral growth. l, Your email address will not be published. After the worst of winter, but before leaf break, is the best time. If you allow the wood to remain by the active plant, it could invite disease and pests as it decays, and those problems could infect your healthy plant. Plant your blackberry plants from December through February. Make a clean, sharp cut about 6 inches from each canes’ leafy end, just below a leave node or bud. Home gardeners can enjoy a choice of blackberry varieties with fruit far superior to that of wild blackberries. By cutting back the canes, you encourage lateral fruiting shoots on the lower portion of these canes to branch out in the spring. It can be much more prickly, though! For trailing varieties, cut the old canes down to ground level after the harvest is complete. Root suckers grow out of the crown or base of the plant. Although most blackberries produce shoots with thorns, many cultivars are thornless. Spider mites may feed on leaves in summer, giving them a dull grey look. Doing the majority of your heavy pruning during the dormant season decreases the occurrence of wounds that can invite diseases like cane blight. Remove the top one to two inches of new primocanes when they are four feet tall. This is when you’ll start “tipping” first year-canes (primocanes) as they grow tall. Unlike thornless blackberries, wild blackberries are covered in thorns that make handling them difficult. Ty for your wonderful narrative. They’re perennials, so they grow year after year, growing and spreading a bit each year. In early spring, blackberries should be pruned as they’re emerging from dormancy. Blackberry bushes may be erect or trailing. Trailing blackberries are usually trained to a trellis. Doing so improves air circulation, thereby minimizing the risk of disease and making harvest easier later on. Compared to pruning fruit trees, pruning blackberries is really pretty simple. wikiHow is a “wiki,” similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. When you make your cut, it’s best to do this at a slight angle, above a healthy lateral bud, with the slant angled away from the bud. Your email address will not be published. It's also much easier to prune and pick the thorn less blackberries. Make sure that the pruning tools you use are clean, especially if they have previously come into contact with diseased or dead wood. They aren't very practical since they do not develop fruit, and once they grow too long, they start stealing too much crucial energy from the rest of the plant. I have to admit to allowing my rather rampant blackberry … If you’re further south, this will be much earlier. Remove all of the weaker canes of each plant, leaving only the three or four strongest canes standing. If you are working with a type of blackberry plant that does not produce root buds and only produces crown buds, simply remove weak canes measuring less than 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) in diameter at the base. Completely remove lateral branches from the lowest 18 inches (45 cm) on vigorous canes and lateral branches from the lowest 12 inches (30 cm) on weaker canes. You’ll want to wear long pants and sleeves, and rugged gloves. One possible exception to this rule is blackberry cane blight, which may be most effectively controlled by waiting until winter to remove the infected canes (read this well-illustrated post to learn more about blackberry cane blight.) Despite their different habit, blackberries are treated the same way as summer-fruiting raspberries. As such, the plant can produce more fruit when it has more lateral branches. This article has been viewed 25,021 times. Tie in the new canes as they grow. After harvesting your ripe berries, prune the old floricanes back to the soil line. Leave four to six of th… Light pruning should be done in the summer, but heavy pruning should wait until the dormant season. Old canes look brown and a bit shaggy. Blackberries producing satisfactory growth in their first year can be pruned according to standard annual requirements. Second-year canes are called floricanes. They’ll send out side shoots, or laterals, that result in a heavier harvest the following summer. If you notice something amiss with some of your canes, go ahead and trim them out right away. Pruning can help you to maintain a fairly tangle-free blackberry patch and hopefully it will be a more enjoyable area in which to pick fruit (Figure 3). It’s best if you tip the canes back to about 4′ during their first year of growth, but if you didn’t do that last year, or missed some canes, go ahead and do it now. Soon after… Blackberry canes do much of their growth during their first season, sending up a tall main cane, with lateral branches emerging from the sides. This year I've had a superb haul off of the blackberry bushes located toward the bottom of the plot. It won't kill the plant. Pruning Blackberries. What’s more, home gardeners can pick fruit from early summer all the way to the first frost. Do this pruning after you have already planted the cutting in the ground. Berries growing this low will drape onto the ground, as they grow and weigh down the side shoots. Hi. Unfortunately, the thornless upright blackberries currently available aren’t as hardy as some of the thorny ones. You’ll also need a good pair of well-sharpened loppers. When pruning your blackberries, you'll need to treat first-year canes, called "primocanes," differently than second-year canes, called "floricanes." Remove all of the weaker canes of each plant, leaving only the three or four strongest canes standing. This causes the canes to branch, increasing next year’s yields. Damaged canes, diseased canes, or dead canes should be cut off, as well, to prevent the possible spread of disease or insects. In late winter or very early spring, prune out damaged, diseased or broken canes from each plant. Bag and dispose of the pruned material in case it’s harboring pests or disease. When pruning your blackberries, you'll need to treat first-year canes, called "primocanes," differently than second-year canes, called "floricanes." By mid to late summer, you’ll want to keep your pruning shears handy. Weak canes include any cane with a diameter less than 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) at its base. While you could pretty much do all necessary blackberry pruning with a pair of loppers, I find it much more convenient to use a pair of hand shears for taking off the tips of tall canes, and trimming out any damaged side shoots. Winter is the perfect time to prune thornless blackberry canes and tie in green wood to a trellis. Remove any very low side branches, anything lower than about 18″ from the ground. I honestly have no clue which of the many canes are from what year, etc….. Don't miss a thing! In summer, tip primocanes at 4′ to encourage lateral growth. Leave your email to receive new posts and cute farm pictures in your inbox. That being said, I’ve also seen huge blackberry bushes that were … You should wait until most of the winter passes so that you can take care of these damages spots while doing the rest of your pruning. All tip submissions are carefully reviewed before being published. By this time, you may need the branch loppers to do the job. It works best to be pruning blackberries in the spring of the year. Now, cut back the laterals (side branches on each cane) to 12-18″. In the spring, you should be doing tip pruning on your blackberries. Cut a little of the tip off the top of it daily. Follow the same pruning procedure if you have trailing canes. Much of the task of blackberry pruning is about helping first-year primocanes grow in the best way to encourage the development of as many clusters of large berries as possible. I’m assuming because it has been left to grow wild without pruning. When you are pruning blackberries in winter, cut back long, trailing branches on your erect canes to 12 to 18 inches (30-46 cm.). Take Primocane Cuttings. It also lacks prickly stems and has a simple leaf with no leaflets. By using our site, you agree to our. Blackberries need pruning each year so they don't become unmanageable. Please help us continue to provide you with our trusted how-to guides and videos for free by whitelisting wikiHow on your ad blocker. Rather than allow them to set berries that will end up covered in dirt, attracting rodents, it’s better to remove them and allow the canes to put that energy into growing berries higher up. It’s probably 8′ tall and just as wide but produces very few berries. Only healthy, vigorous canes should remain. Wild blackberries are rather tasty to eat, so don't let their "wild-side" scare you. First-year blackberry canes are called primocanes. To create this article, volunteer authors worked to edit and improve it over time. The "crown" of the cutting refers to the portion of the cutting that extends just above ground once the cutting is planted. If there are multiple blackberry plants in a row, maintain a row width of 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 cm) at the base of the rows by cutting back low base canes once they threaten to crowd each other out. Primocanes are new or "first year" canes. Second year canes should be pruned back to 40"-48". When you tie them in, keep new growth separate from the older fruiting canes to prevent any fungal diseases spreading from older foliage. Blackberry Pruning – How To Trim Blackberry Bushes When to Prune Blackberry Bushes. When your blackberries’ primocanes reach 3 feet high in summer, prune off their tips. Any time of year is right for removing damaged or diseased canes. Diseased canes should generally be removed right away, being careful to clean your pruning shears with alcohol afterward, to avoid spreading disease to healthy canes. Even if you did remove spent canes once they finished bearing last year, you’ll want to check for any that may have been killed or damaged by a tough winter. It’s very helpfu. In the summer, blackberry canes should be “tipped” as they reach about 4′ high. Scale up your pruning skills with OSU’s online workshop! To really see what a difference climate makes when it comes to the timing of blackberry care, check out these photos that my friend Chelsea and I took of our blackberries, on the same day! wikiHow is where trusted research and expert knowledge come together. After pruning, allow each season's new canes to trail on the ground, where they won't crowd fruiting canes. In the fall, prune all canes that bore fruit shortly after harvesting your … We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. If you are planting a seedling, bush, or vine with well-established erect canes, do not prune them back. If you are satisfied with your first year growth, however, pruning back the canes so dramatically may not be necessary. wikiHow is a “wiki,” similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Leave the lateral canes a bit longer on vigorous canes and a bit shorter on slower canes. After the harvest has finished, you can go ahead and prune out all of the canes that bore fruit. Unless you’re working with a thornless variety, prickles are a very real issue when pruning blackberry bushes. 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