Blackberry and hybrid berry: pruning and training
Blackberries and most hybrid berries, such as tayberry, wineberry, boysenberry and loganberry, all crop on long stems or canes. All of them are vigorous and require annual pruning and training for easy management.
Timing Spring, summer and autumn
When to prune blackberry and hybrid berry
Pruning for blackberries and hybrid berries is usually carried out after harvesting in summer or autumn. As the new canes start growing the following spring and summer, they need to be tied into their supports.
Primocane blackberry ‘Reuben’ fruits on new canes produced that season so is pruned in February as for autumn fruiting raspberries.
How to prune and train
Fruit is produced on two-year-old canes (i.e. the previous season's growth) so, to make things easy, keep this year’s fruiting canes separate from young new canes as the season progresses.
Try tying the new canes in a vertical bunch in the centre (you can keep them tidy by tying them out along the top wire in bunches). Train the fruiting canes along the lower three wires, tying them in with twine.
In autumn, the fruited canes can easily be pruned out from the base after harvesting, and you should then take the bundled-up current year’s canes and train them along the lower wires to make space for next year’s new canes to be bundled in the centre. Alternatively, tie fruiting canes in one direction and the current year’s canes in the other.
Sometimes the fruiting canes are twisted around the wires in patterns to conserve space with very vigorous cultivars such as ‘Himalayan Giant’. Plants with strong, rigid canes that cannot easily be twisted around the wires (e.g. ‘King’s Acre Berry’) can be trained as a fan, with the new growth bunched in the centre, as above.
Older, very vigorous cultivars such as 'Himalaya Giant', 'Fantasia' and 'Ashton Cross' can support up to 24 fruiting canes per plant. If growing more modern cultivars keep up to 16 canes, eight on each side for fan trained plant.
Some additional pruning in spring may be needed to remove frost-damaged growth after winter.
Providing plant support
When growing blackberries or hybrid berries you need something to train them on. If you don’t have somewhere to train these berries, they will quickly grow out of control and be harder to prune and less productive.
A post and wire system is relatively easy to construct and is the best way to train blackberries or hybrid berries.
- Drive 2.5m (8ft) long and 75mm (3in) diameter posts into the ground to a depth of 75cm (30in) at 5m (15ft) intervals
- Stretch 12 gauge (3.5mm) galvanized wire between the posts at 30cm (1ft) vertical intervals
- Plant the blackberries or hybrid berries 2.5-3.5m (8-11ft) apart along the fence
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