Pruning Blackberry Plants

Blackberry PlantsAmong the many berry plants we have on our 1/4 acre, we have four Navaho Blackberry plants which are an erect, thornless varierty that produce large crops of delicious, fat, sweet black fruit.

Well normally.

This Summer, we didn’t get such a great crop from two of our Blackberry plants.

The fruit was dry and sparse and the plants weren’t looking that healthy.

The other two plants did really well and produced a fantastic crop. But as always in our garden, we want more!

I don’t know how I got so off track with these plants but it seems I’ve had my Blackberries worked out all wrong.

For some reason I misunderstood that Blackberries did not need the same pruning as the likes of Raspberries.

Maybe the lack of new canes sprouting to replace the old ones confused me?

Or maybe I just got it plain wrong.

Either way, our arborist who visited yesterday to plan our large tree pruning put me back on track when he saw the plants and advised me to prune the Blackberries more like a Raspberry.

So I did a bit more research and he’s right.

Which seems obvious in hindsight.

Like Raspberries, most Blackberries fruit on floricanes, which is the plants 2 year old wood.

On that basis, here’s how I should have been maintaining my Blackberries:

  • During the growing season, cut back each cane to approximately 1 metre. This will cause lateral shoots to sprout from the main canes and increase fruit production.
  • Trim back laterals to approximately 20cms in Spring.
  • Leave the plant alone while fruiting.
  • When the plant has fruited, cut back all floricanes that fruited in the Summer to the base. Let the new seasons growth (primocanes) remain and if require, wire them to the support structure for next year.

So in a bid to have a much better crop next year, I’ve taken drastic measures.

The two tired and sickly plants in question did look like this…..

Blackberry Plants

……and now look like this.

Pruning Blackberries

This tiny shoot that is showing in the photo will grow nice and tall over the next 6 months, ready to provide a new crop of berries in Summer.

Well that’s the plan anyway.

Why these plants didn’t put out more new growth to replace the old canes I don’t know.

I certainly hope that this bold pruning of these Blackberry plants isn’t to the detriment of next Summers crop.

Although if it is, it’s kind of like a too short haircut. It’ll grow back : )

2 Comments

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