How To, Jorge, Plants

Pruning Raspberries, Blackberries & Other Hybrid Berries

The pruning requirements of your bramble is dependent on whether it is a summer or autumn fruiting variety. We recommend you train your plants to a south-facing wall or fence system to allow ease of management and to maximise productivity.

Selecting Sites

Like most fruiting plants, full sun is ideal, but unlike most fruiting plants, brambles can tolerate shade. Planting in a sheltered location is recommended as strong winds can damaged stems.

Training Systems

As most brambles are composed of floppy canes, they need to be supported, either to a south-facing wall or to a fence. A fence can easily be constructed with two 2-2.5m fence posts and galvanised wire. Canes need to be tied in with twine.

Floricanes & Primocanes

Brambles produce multiple stems, known as suckers, which grow out of a single root system. These stems are known as primocanes in their first year and floricanes in their second. As these stems grow from a single root system, they share resources, so it’s best to select 6-8 strong canes, pruning weak growth down to the ground.

Brambles are divided into summer-fruiting (floricane) and autumn-fruiting (primocane) varieties. Summer-fruiting varieties produce on second-year wood (floricane) and autumn-fruiting varieties produce on first-year wood (primocane). Primocanes and floricanes are easily distinguishable by their colour – the former green and latter brown.

Raspberries & Wineberries

Note: wineberry is its own species, native to Japan. They are pruned in the same way as a summer-fruiting raspberry.

Summer-Fruiting Varieties

  1. Summer: once floricanes have fruited, prune them to the ground.
  2. Dormancy (Autumn-Spring): select the best primocanes (6-8) and remove the rest.
  3. Late-Winter: thin the tips of primocanes (up to 30% depending on vigour). This helps boost fruit size in the following year.

Autumn-Fruiting Varieties

With autumn-fruiting varieties, you have two options available to you.

  1. You can prune your primocanes down to the ground every year after harvesting in autumn. This method produces one large crop each year.

  1. Alternatively, you can prune a stem below the fruiting area in autumn of the first year. This area will produce a small crop in the summer of the second year, after which it can be pruned down to the ground. The primocane emerging in the same year will produce a crop in autumn, where it can again be pruned below the fruiting area. This method produces two crops each year – a small one in summer and a larger one in autumn.

Training Raspberries

There are three training methods for raspberries – the stool, hedgerow and V/T trellis system. Fence posts should be 1.5m above the ground, spaced 1.6-3.6m apart. 2 rows of wire is at 60cm intervals is ideal. Autumn-fruiting varieties are only suitable for the hedgerow system.

With the hedgerow system, canes are planted 40cm apart. As new stems emerge, they can be thinned leaving one every 10cm. An advantage to this method is increased planting density.

With the stool system canes are planted 68m apart. As new canes emerge 6-7 are selected within the vicinity of the original, leaving the same space as when planted. An advantage of this method is improved circulation and light penetration.

The V/T trellis uses two rows of wire, which allows easy separation of primocanes and floricanes. Simply drive two stakes into the ground at an angle or hammer in a piece of wood perpendicular to the stake to form a cross.

Blackberries & Hybrid Berries

Note: loganberries and tayberries are both crosses of a raspberry and blackberry, while boysenberry was produced from a blackberry, loganberry, dewberry and raspberry. They are pruned in the same way as summer-fruiting blackberries.

The vast majority of blackberries are summer-fruiting and produce on second-year wood (floricanes). They are pruned much the same way as summer-fruiting raspberries.

  1. Summer: once floricanes have fruited, prune them to the ground. Once cut, canes can be left to degrade, making them easier to remove at a later date.
  2. Dormancy (Autumn-Spring): select the best primocanes (6-8) and remove the rest.
  3. Late-Winter: thin the tips of primocanes (up to 30% depending on vigour). This encourages the production of fruiting laterals.

Training Blackberries

Summer-fruiting varieties can be divided into semi-trailing and erect varieties. Fence posts should be 1.5m above the ground, spaced 5-7m apart.

There are two methods of training semi-trailing varieties – the fan and rope system. Up to 4 rows of wire can run between the posts at 30cm intervals. Bushes can be planted 3-3.5m apart.

With the fan system, primocanes are allows to grow straight upwards and are tied to the top wire. The floricanes are tied to the bottom wire(s).

With the rope system primocanes are tied to one side and floricanes the other.

Erect varieties are not as malleable, so a single wire 1.2m from the ground will do. Because they grow upright, they can be spaced 1m apart.

Jorge at PrimroseJorge works in the Primrose marketing team. He is an avid reader, although struggles to stick to one topic!

His ideal afternoon would involve a long walk, before settling down for scones.

Jorge is a journeyman gardener with experience in growing crops.

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