Spring pruning and the formation of blackberry bushes: how to do it right
The blackberry pruning procedure helps to maintain the health of the bushes, and also helps to increase the volume of the crop. Trimming it is very simple, but still you need to take into account a number of nuances. About how to properly form bushes, when is it better to do, and how to care for them to get a good harvest, read further in the review.
Why crop a blackberry
First of all, pay attention to the botanical features of this fruit crop. Wild blackberry is a climbing bush. If its vine falls to the ground, it can take root and form another bush. All together, intertwined with prickly vines, the bushes tend to form difficult to overcome thickets. The length of the stems of one plant can reach 6 m.
Any vine, if cut off at the top, begins to branch. The main shoot at the same time thickens and becomes stronger. The more branches there are, the higher the total yield. Berries ripen only on the lateral fruit branches of young shoots that have formed in the current season. By frustrating once, they will no longer produce berries.
- Therefore, cropping has several goals:
- start branching the main shoot;
- remove old ones that have been deflated in order to stimulate the growth of new ones;
- remove weak to direct nutrients stronger;
- reduce the length of the vines, because if the bushes are too tall, they can be damaged by strong wind or snow.
Important! Do not cut the blackberry planted this year. She still does not have old shoots that need to be cut.
When and how to prune bushes in spring
Technologically, shrub pruning is necessary 2 times a year:
- the first time you need to shorten the shoots;
- the second when you need to cut out the prolific.
Gardeners often argue about the timing of these processes. And not one of the points of view is absolute truth. Also take into account that the modern garden blackberry is represented by weaving and erect varieties. Features of their processing must be taken into account.
Vegetation of all varieties begins in early spring, when snow melts.
In each region, this period begins in due time:
- on the Black Sea coast - in March;
- in the central part of Russia - in early April;
- in the northern regions - at the end of April.
For curly varieties, cropping instructions will look like this:
- When a new shoot reaches a length of 76–90 cm, it is cut off at the top. This makes it thicken, activates the development of lateral branches along the entire length.
- If during the summer the vines become too developed, then after harvesting, when the bush enters a dormant state, the weak are cut. Those that are developed normally shorten by 30 cm. The berries that ripen in this case will be larger.
- In winter or early spring, frozen and frigid branches are removed. Although some gardeners advise carrying out the February pruning (it is early spring, if carried out in March) in late autumn - in November.
As for upright shrubs, the shoots that appeared this year do not touch during the entire growing season. In February, they are shortened by 12-14 cm. At the same time, the old ones that gave the crop are removed.
An important advantage of upright bushes is that they can be planted denser with a distance between individual plants of 1 m. While weaving plants will need at least 3 m.
Branches are shortened when they reach a very specific size - 76–90 cm. But the pruning process must be started when the plant is at rest - from November to March.
One of the important tasks of pruning is to form developed bushes. Since the plant consists of individual shoots, the more there are, the higher the yield.
Berry bushes can form:
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- on the stem;
- on the trellis.
A stamp is a decorative form of pruning a tree or bush. In this case, the central shoot is shortened by 10 cm. As a result, the formation of lateral branches begins, i.e., the branching of the bush.
Since the blackberry is a multi-stemmed shrub, each new shoot of the current year, if it was shortened, will form several branches on the top next year and become like a horn. So that the branches do not bend under the weight of the berries, they are tied to a regular trellis.
Garter is carried out so that each branch receives the same amount of sun and air.
A shrub consisting of erect shoots is also formed by a garter to the trellis. There are V-shaped, T-shaped and Y-shaped trellis designs. To create it, poles are dug on the sides of a row. With a shrub height of about 2 m, you will need supports up to 3-4 m in length made of wood or metal.
The support column is dug into the ground to a depth of 1-1.5 m. To do this, prepare a hole, as when planting trees, install a column and compact the soil around it. The remaining part of the support will be used for garter shoots.
You will need to fix 2 rows of wire, the horizontal distance between which will be about 10-15 cm. Tie the shoots formed in the current year to one row. And to the second, those that grow in the next. So you will not get confused which of them need to be cut after fruiting.
Given that a blackberry is a vine, you can consider another method of garter: entwining a winding vine around a support. This form also looks good, but it is less productive than previous options. Along the horizontal mounts on the trellis, the vines are laid in waves.
Important! In autumn, pruning of branches is possible only in those regions where there will be no severe frosts. Otherwise, in winter, the wood will crack, and the bush will freeze.
Blackberry pruning pattern
As for pruning schemes, they are inherent in perennial berry bushes, the branches of which live for 5 or more years. They form a crown, give the decorative shape of a ball, cone or pyramid. But this does not apply to blackberries, since only the root lives for a long time, and shoots last no more than 3 years.
If under the pruning schemes we mean sanitary and normalizing, then the first consists of removing dry branches during the dormant period, and normalizing, like molding, is applicable only to perennial bushes.
Video: how to crop a blackberry in spring
Upright branches carry out only shortening. In the first year of growth of bush blackberry, the plant is not touched. And in winter or early spring, before the second year of development, the branches are shortened by 12-14 cm. The erect bush should consist of 10-14 shoots. If there are more of them, try to remove the weaker ones to strengthen the remaining ones.
For creeping, climbing
For climbing varieties, shoots begin to shorten if they reach a length of 76–90 cm. This stimulates the development of lateral branches. You may not do this if you decide to grow the plant in one shoot, wrapping it around a pillar-like support. But keep in mind that the yield of such plants will always be less.
Braided varieties are wound around the wire and when grown on a trellis. In this case, the vines of the current year of growth are allowed in one direction, and the vines of the next - in the other for the convenience of harvesting and subsequent pruning.
Did you know? Did you know? Blackberry flowers — excellent melliferous plants. They produce dark honey with a rich fruity taste.
For a refurbished look
Repairing varieties of raspberries and blackberries allow you to get 2 crops per season on the shoots. In the first year of growth, the upper part of the stem gives a small crop. The fruiting period is July or August.
The following year, the same shoot bears fruit in early summer, but already in its middle part. Accordingly, the shoots of the first year of growth cannot be cut off. But in the early spring of the second year (they) can be shortened by 10 cm, since the fruiting in this part will no longer be.
Ashipless blackberries obey the same rules as spiked. In this category, there are many varieties with a variety of features. But pruning is carried out considering whether this variety is erect or creeping, and whether it is repair.
Did you know? The nuance of springless varieties] is that some gardeners note that during autumn pruning, bushes grow very quickly and it is not advisable to spend energy on supporting shoots that will no longer yield crops.
How to shorten the stems
The main requirement for the procedure is not to harm the plant. To do this, use sterile sharpened instruments. Sterilization is performed by wiping the cutting surfaces with alcohol before working with each subsequent plant. Alcohol can be replaced by treatment with a solution of water and whiteness in a ratio of 1: 1.
The main features of the process:
- All sections of old branches are performed at the root. Do not leave stumps. They will become a place for the development of various fungi.
- Any cut is performed at an angle of 45 °.
- Secateurs cut only branches whose thickness does not exceed 3 cm. The rest is cut with a hacksaw on a tree. You can’t break branches, because any cut line should be smooth.
- Treat thick sections with garden varnish or oil-based paint.
Did you know? About 370 garden blackberry varieties grow in the world. And most of them were created only in the last 140 years.
Rationing the number of shoots
When it comes to rationing, it means calculating the load of the bush and in 90% of cases it is a grape bush. Divide the plant mentally into 2 parts: roots and vines. The vine is a perennial. She can give an infinitely large number of shoots. But the root provides the nutrition for all this mass.
If he does not cope with the load, then the vines will turn out to be thin and weak, and the bunches will be small and not too dense. Therefore, the grape bush is standardized, that is, leave as much of the aerial parts as the root system can feed.
Grape growers will always indicate the permissible number of vines and the load on them, depending on the characteristics of the variety. For example, a vine thickness of 5 mm allows for 2 shoots, and with a thickness of 10 mm, 8 shoots are allowed.
The blackberry bush has a completely different situation. The root system is perennial, and the vines are annuals or biennials, depending on the variety. And the root system forms exactly as many shoots as the kidneys will be laid.
The last parameter depends on the fertility of the soil. On a weak vine, the harvest will not be large. If you decide to remove the weaker branches from the formed branches, then simply direct the nutrients to the stronger ones. And this does not mean that you will greatly affect the harvest.
Therefore, applying the concept of “rationing” to blackberry bushes is simply meaningless.
The formation of a bush of the first and second year of growth
The concept of forming a bush is also desirable to apply to perennial berry bushes, such as currants, gooseberries, viburnum, honeysuckle. The purpose of molding trimming is to remove excessive thickening and shaping the bush.
In the second year, you will already have shoots that should yield a harvest this year, and new ones that will bear fruit the next year.
The first pruning of a plant's life should occur after the crop is harvested. From now on, follow the pruning rules for your particular type of blackberry.
Specific care after trimming
Caring for blackberry bushes is not a difficult task.Perennial roots are stimulated to grow new shoots by pruning old ones. Therefore, while you cut them, the bush will be healthy and fruitful.
Mandatory measures for further care:
- fertilizer application;
- disease prevention;
- pest control.
Since plants deplete the soil during growth and development, they are necessarily fertilized. For blackberries, you can use a balanced fertilizer with an equal amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Their percentage in solution is 10:10:10. They bring them in early spring. About 12.5 kg of fertilizer per 30 linear meters per year will be needed.
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Watering is performed daily. It is advisable in the morning or evening. In the afternoon, too much moisture will simply evaporate.
In blackberries, the roots lie close to the surface and daytime watering will be harmful to it. To prevent evaporation, experienced gardeners cover the trunk space with mulch.
It can be: straw, corn leaves or chopped parts of corn heads, sawdust, husk from seeds, pine needles.
If you are not a fan of organic mulch, cover the soil with dark agrofibre or spanbond. This will prevent weed growth, rapid evaporation of moisture and soil compaction.
The plant is resistant to disease. But as a preventive measure, a bush is sprayed in spring with a Bordeaux liquid of 1%. The action of this fungicide is based on the ability of copper ions to disinfect surfaces. Copper prevents all fungal diseases.
Spraying should be repeated in the fall, after the leaves fall before preparing the bushes for wintering.
The carriers of viral diseases are insects. If you organize good bush lighting and even air circulation around the vines, as well as remove weeds, you can get rid of some of the pests, and a small amount of blackberries is scary.
For plants in the winter hardiness zone 5 and below, be sure to winter the bushes. They are untied from the trellis, wrapped with agrofibre, pressed to the ground and covered with spruce branches.
With proper care, the bushes will surely please you with a good harvest. Given that blackberries are tasty, healthy, and have healing properties, consider planting them in your area. Ease of care is another argument for doing this.