Last spring we made our first attempt at learning to prune blackberries. Honestly, I held out little hope that it would go well because I was so confused by all of the different methods for the different types of blackberries there are. Erect, Semi-Erect, Trailing, Semi-Trailing… er.. are the Semi-‘s the same? Which canes are the floricanes or primocanes? We didn’t even know where to start because we hadn’t a clue what type they were! From examining the cane habits, to flower colors, to even looking at the seeds under a microscope because different varieties have different shaped seeds, I tried everything and never came to any definitive conclusions. So we made a shot in the dark and did our best.
A year later, and I’m not any closer to determining the variety, nor can I remember what method of pruning we even settled upon (not that it did the brambles any favors for our harvest was incredibly meager.)
So we settled on doing it the way all the Amish in our area prune their thornless blackberries, regardless of cane habit. It is incredibly easy to do (and remember!) And since we had a bumper crop the year we moved in here (when the brambles had been Amish-pruned), I expect them to much better this year!
How to Prune Blackberries
Select 4-6 healthy, thick stemmed canes to keep and then remove the rest. Show above is before, below is after.
Remove all laterals between 12-18″ from the ground.
Shorten long canes by cutting them back to 5-6 feet tall. (Not pictured.)
Trim back all remaining laterals to 12-18″ long.
Now to get the raspberry pruning figured out….