Berry Pruning Basics

Raspberries

More information: Growing Raspberries in Your Home Garden

Summer-bearing red raspberries

Summer-bearing red raspberries are biennial in habit, growing one year and producing fruit the next.

During the dormant season

From October through early March, remove all weak, broken, diseased, and insect-damaged canes. thin remaining primocanes (new cane growth) to 10-12 canes per hill or 4-5 per foot of hedgerow, and shorten the canes to 5 1⁄2 feet (to encourage branching).

In spring/summer

Remove all canes that grow between the hills or in the row aisles by pruning or cultivating. After you have harvested the last of the fruit, remove all old floricanes on which fruit was borne.

Fall-bearing raspberries

You can grow these plants for both an early summer and a fall crop. Primocanes (new cane growth) bear fruit in the fall at the tips of the cane and produce a second crop the following spring from lateral branches.

During the dormant season

Remove the weak or damaged canes and the two-year (spent) floricanes that bore the summer fruit. Remove the portion (tips) of canes that fruited last fall. Thin canes as for summer-bearing raspberry.

You can grow fall-bearing raspberry for a fall crop only. For this method, cut all canes to ground level when plants are dormant. When the new primocanes emerge, maintain a row width of 12-15 inches by removing excess suckers by pruning or cultivation.

Black and purple raspberries

Black raspberry plants have arched canes rather than the more upright canes of red raspberry. New canes are not produced from roots; they develop only from the base of old canes. Purple raspberries are hybrids of red and black raspberries.

Late spring/summer

Black and purple raspberries need to be cut back during the growing season to encourage branching. Remove the top 3-4 inches of primocanes (new shoots). Do this early in the season so that you are topping blackcaps to a height of 2 feet and purples to 2 1⁄2 feet to encourage them to produce lateral branches. You usually have to go over the planting several times during the summer. After harvest remove all floricanes (2-year old canes which have born fruit).

During the dormant season

Remove all damaged canes and those less than 1⁄2-inch in diameter. Most plants have at least five canes larger than 1⁄2 inch. However, if all canes are smaller than 1⁄2 inch, remove all but the two or three largest ones. Lateral branches also should be shortened during the dormant period. Shorten laterals to 1-1 1⁄2 feet in length. Cut unbranched canes to 2 1⁄2 to 3 feet.

Blueberries

More information: Growing Blueberries in Your Home Garden

At planting

Prune all branches back by about 30-40 percent to encourage vigorous new growth. Young plants require little pruning for the first 2 to 3 years. Remove dead or dying parts of branches and less vigorous, spindly growth around the base of plants to encourage vigorous upright growth.

Another approach from Fall Creek Farm and Nursery bulletin

It is important that blueberries get established before allowing them to bear fruit. Thereafter, they should be heavily pruned each year to avoid overfruiting which results in small fruit or poor growth.

Remove all blooms as they appear the first year. In years thereafter, follow these steps after the leaves have dropped:

  1. Remove low growth around the base. If it doesn’t grow up, it gets pruned out!
  2. Remove the dead wood, and non-vigorous twiggy wood. Select for bright reddish colored wood with long (at least 3-inch) laterals. Remove blotchy-colored short growth.
  3. If 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 of the wood has not been removed by the above steps, thin out the fruiting laterals and small branches until this balance has been obtained.

Currents and gooseberries

These bear on one- and two-year-old wood. Four-year-old and older wood produces poor berries and should be removed. Clean up bushes by removing the oldest shoots in winter, thinning out the new growth, and cutting out dead wood. If berries are very small one year, thin the following winter.

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