The blackberry plant is a fruit-producing bramble with biennial fruit production on canes. A blackberry bush produces fruit in its second year of growth. Blackberries growing in a home garden benefit from following a cane cutting and pruning schedule. Bramble cane maintenance increases plant growth and fruit production while decreasing or eliminating the environment suited to disease growth. Take caution while cutting canes to prevent the removal of current-year growth, as this will decrease fruit production in the year to come.
Prune blackberry canes in early spring by cutting off all 2-year-old canes close to the ground. The canes grow and produce best when there are 5 to 7 canes on each blackberry plant.
Cut off all weak or dead canes in spring once they begin to sprout, to stimulate new cane growth. Dead canes will not sprout, and weak canes will have few sprouts and be thin in diameter.
Cut off the tips of current cane growth so each cane remains 24 to 30 inches in length. Cut only new cane growth to prevent a reduction in fruit production on 2-year-old canes.
Cut off 1 inch of the ends of new canes that are shorter than 24 inches in length. This will stimulate additional growth to increase cane growth for fruit production the following year.
Cut lateral cane growth to 18 inches each spring to limit growth and prevent cane damage during the dormant winter months. Lateral shoots grow quickly and continue to grow during the summer season.