I pruned my blackberry brambles this afternoon. I have chester and triple crown thornless blackberries. I should have pruned them earlier this spring, or even last fall. I used the larger pruners for most of the work as the blackberry canes are large, up to an inch (25 mm) thick.
Blackberry canes grow for a year, then produce fruit the second year. The first step in pruning them is to remove the canes that produced fruit last year. The second step is to trim the canes that will produce fruit this year. I shortened them so they are a little higher than the top of my trellis. I then removed side branches that were less than eighteen inches (50 cm) above the ground and pruned the remaining side branches so they are no more than eighteen inches long. My method is based on what I’ve read in Stella Otto’s book and on the Penn State website for small scale fruit production (see Resources). This is what the blackberries looked like before I started.
I also tied the canes to the trellis crosspiece with some old socks to hold them apart. Here is what the final result looked like.
The rose bushes behind the blackberries make it a little difficult to distinguish them. This pruning is similar to what I’ve done in the past, but as it’s rather late in the season it may reduce fruit production this year.
I put the pruned blackberry canes out with tree branches to be picked up by our township’s brush and yard waste units, who chip it and use it as mulch. I don’t want to keep the canes on my property as they may become a home to diseases that could then attack the living brambles.