If you want to grow blackberry and enjoy a good harvest you need to know how to prune it properly. Pruning will maximize yield and keep your blackberry bushes healthy. Air flowing between individual bushes will keep various fungal diseases at bay. In addition, pruning creates space between bushes which makes harvesting easier, and if you want to help your blackberries even more, you can also use stakes and tie individual branches to provide additional support.
First year pruning
Don’t be afraid to shorten long shoots down to two or three buds. You will not harm the plant. On the contrary, you will promote further growth. Bushes will start producing young shoots from the eyes giving you more fruit later. When branches reach a length of approximately one meter, tie them to the stakes. Leave three shoots in the first year and up to six shoots in the second year. Cut off extra shoots right at the ground level.
In terms of tying, blackberry may be divided into two types. Crawling blackberry need to have a support structure already at the time of planting. If you have erect varieties you do not need to tie them. Just insert individual branches between double wire to provide additional support if necessary. To make harvesting easier, maintain the height of the bush to two meters and to do so, you need to prune before spring and during summer.
Cutting two-year old shoots
Two-year-old shoots die after harvesting and you must remove them – cut them off close to the ground in autumn (after harvesting) or you may wait and remove these branches during spring – they protect young shoots from frost. You should perform this cut every year. Keep one year old shoots as they will produce fruit.
Removing lateral shoots
You should also cut and remove side shoots and you should do that at the end of summer – from the end of August to the beginning of September. During this period the basal part becomes woody and the buds will not sprout. You may also perform this cut in the spring, just before sprouting. Side shoots need to be shortened down to two or three buds which will sprout and produce blackberries.
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