Spring blackberry pruning for beginners: diagrams and step-by-step instructions
Blackberry bushes are unusually decorative. Most varieties have fast-growing and well-branching shoots. To maintain an attractive appearance, as well as to obtain an abundant and tasty crop, blackberries must be regularly trimmed and its crown formed correctly. Spring pruning is a must in caring for this plant.
The importance of pruning blackberries
The blackberry belongs to the plants of the biennial cycle and each shoot lives for two years. In the first year it grows, gains strength and lays fruit buds, in the second year it blooms and bears fruit. At the end of fruiting, there is nothing more to expect from the old branches, they only take the sap from the plant. If you do not cut them, the bush will grow to a state of impassable jungle and the crop will gradually come to naught. Therefore, the seedling shoots are cut, thereby allowing the plant to effectively redistribute forces and nutrients in favor of new growing branches.
Old blackberry branches prevent young lashes from growing
Fresh shoots grow stronger and stronger, providing abundant fruiting for the next year.
It is also necessary to remove excess root shoots, which in some varieties of blackberries grow a very large amount. Landings thin out, otherwise it is fraught:
- deterioration in the quality of berries;
- increased susceptibility to disease;
- weakening of the entire bush;
- freezing in winter (fewer branches are easier to qualitatively cover).
When to cut blackberries in spring
Basic blackberry pruning procedures are usually performed in the fall after fruiting. But sometimes this is not possible and it is quite possible to carry out the necessary manipulations in the spring. It is recommended to do this immediately after the snow cover has disappeared and the threat of frost has passed, but the buds will not yet start growing.
In the spring, blackberries need to be trimmed as soon as the snow melts
The period when the buds are not yet swollen is the least traumatic for spring pruning of the blackberry bush.
Spring pruning rules
Before pruning, the blackberry bush is inspected carefully. The first thing they do is cut last year’s old shoots on which there were berries. This is done if such branches were not deleted in the fall.
Then you need to examine each shoot along its entire length. Some branches may freeze, be attacked by rodents, or simply break during the winter period. Visually, such lashes differ from healthy ones, as they have a very dark, almost black color, they are fragile and rough to the touch. These specimens are cut to the very root, without hemp. A healthy branch is resilient, has a brown color and a characteristic gloss.
During spring pruning, all damaged and frozen lashes are cut
The remaining lashes must be carefully examined. All kidneys must be viable. If part of the shoot died, then it is cut to the first healthy kidney. Areas where traces of damage by pests or disease are found are also removed.
Cutting blackberries in the spring has an important sanitary role.
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You also need to cut off all the weakened and thin branches. It is recommended to ruthlessly remove everything that causes any suspicion. Even a not very large number of absolutely full-fledged branches will bring much more benefit than a plant burdened with almost non-viable shoots.
Weakened and dead branches are cut to the root
A bush is considered full-fledged and well wintered, in which 6–8 healthy lashes are left. If there are less than 4 branches, then such a plant is weakened and there will be no good harvest from it. The shoots on it can be greatly shortened, allowing the plant to survive and gain strength. In some cases, it may be better to just get rid of it.
In the spring or immediately after planting, the seedling branches are cut to 25-30 cm from the ground
Spring pruning of young seedlings is carried out a little differently. This is done in several stages:
- In a young blackberry, lateral branches and the crown itself are cut off in the first spring or immediately after planting, leaving no more than 25-30 cm in length. The plant grows stronger, gaining strength and gives lateral processes.
- The next spring, the lateral lashes that have grown over the past year are nipped, cutting off 10-15 cm from the apex. In the second year, new replacement shoots grow near the bush, and last year's branches give the first berry crop and are cut in the fall.
- In the spring of the third year, last year's branches are shortened by 30–50 cm. Thus, the growth of lateral processes, on which fruit buds are formed, is further stimulated.
Both spring and autumn blackberry pruning include pinching lateral branches
This spring pruning does not end there. It is repeated after the buds open and foliage is released. In adult bushes, branches are shortened by 10-12 cm from the uppermost healthy kidney, which helps to increase productivity. Typically, such a stimulating pruning is performed in conjunction with a garter.
The lateral shoots after the release of foliage are shortened by 20-30 cm
A special mention deserves a repair blackberry. There are no measures for pruning it in the spring, as the fruiting branches in the autumn are simply completely cut out. In spring, new shoots appear, on which there will be fruiting.
Blackberry Garter after Trimming
Almost all varieties of blackberries need support and tying. The shoots of this culture have increased flexibility and fragility. If they are not tied, then during a thunderstorm or under the weight of ripened berries, the lashes can easily break. In addition, it is extremely difficult to harvest, especially from prickly varieties. Blackberry plantings that are thickened and not attached to the trellis do not receive enough light and the yield will be weak.
Blackberry is recommended to be grown on trellises
In spring, the garter is carried out immediately after trimming. At the same time, young shoots are separated from the old. This greatly facilitates the care of the bushes, harvesting and subsequent removal of the fruiting branches. There are several blackberry garter patterns: fan, wave, rope.
- Fan. Fresh shoots remain in the center, and last year's lashes are evenly distributed on both sides (right and left) and tied to the trellis. Allowed to leave all old branches in one direction. The main thing is to separate them from the young. This method is convenient for upright varieties. Fan-shaped crown formation is recommended for beginners.
With a fan garter, young and old branches are bred in different directions
- Wave. Fruit-bearing branches are undulating along the lower ranks of the trellis, and young ones along the uppermost ones.
The lashes are distributed by waves: old ones from below, and young ones in the upper sections of trellis
- Cable car. Young growth remains in the middle, and old lashes are distributed on both sides in bunches (usually two). Weaving in beams gives the entire structure more stability.
With rope garter, lashes form in bundles
The last two garter methods are used for creeping blackberry varieties.
Video: blackberry garter and pruning in spring
If you adhere to the chosen method of forming bushes, then you can minimize the negative aspects associated with pruning blackberries. Many beginner gardeners are afraid to contact her because of the presence of rather large spikes. However, science does not stand still and breeders have bred hybrid varieties devoid of this drawback. Timely removal of unnecessary branches and proper agricultural technology guarantee a good harvest of these magnificent berries.