The Q&A Archives: Wild Bramble Maintenance

Question: I have a few wild Blackberry and Rasberry bushes in my back yard next to my deck. They were planted by the previous owners. Although I like the idea of having the berries, I would like to move the thorny bushes which have grown to have branches pushing 6 feet, unless I can trim them back some. I have heard that if you cut them back it will take two years for them to produce fruit again. Is this true? Is there a minimal amount I could trim off that would not affect the fruit production?

Answer: Wow! Canes that large must be producing great crops! With proper pruning, you should harvest berries every year. What you'd heard is partially true - it does take a cane two years to fruit. The first year, the canes are called primocanes, and in their second (and final) year, they flower and fruit, and are therefore called floricanes. You can prune the blackberry and raspberry canes that have fruited this year after the leaves fall. Also, thin the canes to 5-6 canes per foot of row. In late winter/early spring, before growth begins, remove 3-4" from the tips of the the remaining BLACKBERRY (only) canes (which will fruit that summer). They should grow lateral branches during the summer. Head these back to 8-12" for increased fruit production. Enjoy!

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