Blackberry and Raspberry Pruning
I've had my bramble going for a good 4 years now. Our kids love eating berries straight from the bush/cane and I love that. During the last 2 years, I've been battling the dreaded Japanese Beetle and their destructive habits, especially on my blackberries. I've tried a few things but will be doing more research over the course of the winter to come up with a better solution. It's very disheartening to find them on the plants in astronomical numbers and ruining the fruit.
But, given that it is autumn and the beetles are long gone, I'm now turning my focus on cleaning up my beds and making sure to give them a good start come spring. I like to get rid of as much as I can before winter and then give everything a quick prune in the spring as well before buds form.
I wanted to share a few of my tips for pruning these berries in order to maximize the health and production of your plants.
1) Always use sharp, clean tools. Gloves are necessary if dealing with thorns!
2) In the Fall/Autumn: Prune out all the canes that bore fruit on your blackberries and raspberries shortly after harvest. They won't bear fruit again. Remove any short or thin canes. You'll want to keep 5-7 of the fattest & tallest canes per foot. I also recommend clearing any of the dead leaves and debris out as well.
3) In the Spring before buds appear: Thin canes to about 5-7 per plant (if you didn't do it in the fall) and prune any of the side branches on remaining canes to about 12 inches. Then tie those canes to your fencing.
Remember to burn or take those canes you removed to the dump. Those dead canes can spread disease.
That's it! You're bramble will be looking good and have maximum light and air flow to produce great fruit!