Late winter and early spring are best. Spider mites may feed on leaves in summer, giving them a dull grey look. Soak a cloth in bleach. Take our online class! Compared to pruning fruit trees, pruning blackberries is really pretty simple. First of all, no thorns, and secondly the berries on the cultivated bushes are bigger and sweeter than those in the wild. I use them for pruning absolutely everything, and they stand up to such a beating. Pruning encourages lateral branching and increases cane strength, so they don't fall over in snow and wind. Despite their different habit, blackberries are treated the same way as summer-fruiting raspberries. Light pruning should be done in the summer, but heavy pruning should wait until the dormant season. Method 1 Part One: Initial Pruning In summer, tip primocanes at 4′ to encourage lateral growth. If you’re training your blackberries to a trellis or fence, now is the time to go ahead and secure your canes to it. Floricanes are usually second-year canes and are the canes responsible for producing the majority of the plant's fruit. Thin bushes to the best 4-6 canes. Blackberries like full sun and well-drained, rich soil. When you are pruning blackberries in winter, cut back long, trailing branches on your erect canes to 12 to 18 inches. You simply need to remove the dead canes at the end of the blackberry growing season. They are spent after producing fruit, which is why you should remove them. By this time, you may need the branch loppers to do the job. In the first spring, when new canes emerge from the base of the stool, cut back any old wood to soil level. Read our PRIVACY POLICY here. 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. First-year blackberry canes are called primocanes. Heading causes the cane to stiffen. Pruning should be done early in the growing season to decrease wounds that cause cane blight. As the new canes start growing the following spring and summer, they need to be tied into their supports. Pruning Blackberries. Harsh winters can injure the tips of canes and laterals. Remove the smallest, thinnest canes, and leave the most vigorous ones. Any time of year is right for removing damaged or diseased canes. In the fall, it’s good practice to remove the current year’s fruiting canes, once they’re completely done bearing for the season. Trailing blackberries. Tipping back is … If you notice winter damage on a lateral cane, cut it back far enough to remove this damage, even if doing so will shorten the branch more than usual. 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 Strict pruning and destruction of infested canes and wild berries is important to control its spread. 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. It is also important to keep the erect blackberries in … Extreme cold temperatures might kill some of your blackberry canes. During dormancy, shorten too-long canes to about 7 feet, then shorten the side shoots to 1 to 1 1/2 feet. Dead canes or broken-off branches can be cleanly removed. Prune Fruit-Bearing Canes As members of the Rosaceae family, the cultivation of blackberries resembles that of rose bushes. 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. I honestly have no clue which of the many canes are from what year, etc….. To help understand the pruning process, it’s helpful to understand how blackberries grow and set fruit. 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. In fall, remove floricanes after they’ve completely finished bearing. I hope these tips for how to prune blackberry bushes come in handy, as you grow your blackberry patch, and work toward a wonderful harvest. )✦ How to Transplant Raspberries in Summer (if you must). When pruning your blackberries, you'll need to treat first-year canes, called "primocanes," differently than second-year canes, called "floricanes." Do this pruning after you have already planted the cutting in the ground. 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. Remove the top one to two inches of new primocanes when they are four feet tall. Of the four weedy wild blackberries, thimbleberry is the only nonvining species. When they’re done bearing a crop of berries, floricanes die back and won’t grow again. While blackberry bushes grow year after year, their canes are biennial – this means they have a two-year life cycle. Although most blackberries produce shoots with thorns, many cultivars are thornless. ), How to Transplant Raspberries in Summer (if you must), Handmade Christmas stockings from an old quilt. "Clear and simple instructions that were easy to follow.". wikiHow is a “wiki,” similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. Proper pruning is key Blackberries are best suited to being grown as a hedgerow; I like to site them along a property line. Take your cuttings from primocanes, the first-year canes that won’t bear fruit. Don't miss a thing! As each cane starts growing past 4 feet, go ahead ahead and prune it off at about 4′. Hi. Blackberries need pruning each year so they don't become unmanageable. Second-year canes are called floricanes. 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. Again, I love my Fiskars, but really any strong and sharp pair of hand pruners will do. Light pruning should be done in the summer, but heavy pruning should wait until the dormant season. After the worst of winter, but before leaf break, is the best time. Blackberry canes do much of their growth during their first season, sending up a tall main cane, with lateral branches emerging from the sides. 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. First year erect canes should be left unpruned. Pruning helps maintain tangle-free blackberry bushes and keeps them confined to their space. 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. Scale up your pruning skills with OSU’s online workshop! Cut away old canes and reduce the number of new ones. In their second summer, most of a blackberry cane’s energy is spent on fruiting – establishing clusters of berries, which are primarily along lateral branches off the main canes. Now, make sure each cane is “tipped” back to about 4′ high. Only remove the canes that bore fruit that year. Discard spent floricanes and weak or damaged wood that you remove from the blackberry plant. Home gardeners can enjoy a choice of blackberry varieties with fruit far superior to that of wild blackberries. You’ll also need a good pair of well-sharpened loppers. Because not all primocanes grow at the same rate, you’ll want to get out your pruning shears a few times during the season to stay on top of tipping the canes. Copyright © 2020 Salt in my Coffee on the Seasoned Pro Theme. This is when you’ll start “tipping” first year-canes (primocanes) as they grow tall. Swipe the blades of the shears in between each cutting to avoid spreading disease. 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. 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.) Your email address will not be published. When pruning your blackberries, you'll need to treat first-year canes, called "primocanes," differently than second-year canes, called "floricanes." 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. Damaged canes, diseased canes, or dead canes should be cut off, as well, to prevent the possible spread of disease or insects. Tie in the new canes as they grow. The goal here is to encourage as much robust lateral growth as possible. Both Himalaya and cutleaf blackberry have five-angled stems whereas thimbleberry is rounded in cross section, but Himalaya blackberry is easily distinguishable from the other wild blackberries by its five distinct leaflets, each one toothed and usually oval. Leave four to six of th… After the canes have produced fruit, you should prune them back to the ground to leave room for the stronger, 1-year-old canes. Berries growing this low will drape onto the ground, as they grow and weigh down the side shoots. Blackberry bushes bear best and most abundantly when they’re properly pruned. Bag and dispose of the pruned material in case it’s harboring pests or disease. Use that number as a rough guide – I’ve seen anywhere from 3′-5′ recommended, and I find that about 4′ works well for me. Doing the majority of your heavy pruning during the dormant season decreases the occurrence of wounds that can invite diseases like cane blight. What do I do with the big stems that have shot up? In late winter or very early spring, prune out damaged, diseased or broken canes from each plant. Remove all of the weaker canes of each plant, leaving only the three or four strongest canes standing. Fruited canes are cut right back, the current year’s new growth left to fruit next year. The lateral branches are also the plant's fruiting branches. Make sure that the pruning tools you use are clean, especially if they have previously come into contact with diseased or dead wood. “Tipping back” canes to 5 to 6 feet improves the productivity of upright blackberries (including wild ones) and keeps the best berries at the perfect picking height. There are two reasons really. Pruning may vary depending on the blackberry variety you plant. 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