How to Train Blackberry Bushes

Overview

Blackberry bushes belong to the family Rosaceae (Rose) and the genus Rubus. This perennial, deciduous berry crop produces roots that live for many years. Blackberry canes are stiff and semi self-supporting. Blackberry canes are biennial, meaning they grow one year and produce berries the next year. The non-productive canes are called primocanes and the fruit-producing canes are called floricanes. Floricanes die away after producing berries. Blackberry bush training starts the year after planting.

Step 1

Drive a 6-foot wooden board into the ground with a hammer at each end of the row. Fasten heavy-gauge wire between each board at 3 feet high and 5 feet high. Position the canes to grow between the two wires so the blackberry canes do not bend into the walkway.

Step 2

Remove the top 1 to 2 inches of the new primocanes with pruning shears when the canes reach 30 to 36 inches tall. This encourages the development of branches along the main canes. These branches will produce fruit next year.

Step 3

Remove the floricanes at ground level after collecting the berries. These canes will dry out and die at the end of the growing season.

Step 4

Thin the primocanes to three or four canes per plant when the blackberry bushes are dormant in the late winter. Leave only the strongest canes.

Step 5

Prune all the branches back to 12 to 18 inches long. This will create vigorously growing canes with productive branches.

Tips and Warnings

  • Over-pruning will reduce next season's harvest. Some blackberry growers mow all the canes down to 1 foot tall every few years. This is to reduce insect infestation and plant disease infections.

Things You'll Need

  • Wooden boards
  • Heavy-gauge wire
  • Pruning shears

References

  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Blackberry and Raspberry
  • Oregon State University Extension Service: Growing Blackberries in Your Home Garden
Keywords: training blackberry bushes, pruning blackberry bushes, floricane primocane

About this Author

Karen Carter has spent the last three years working as a technology specialist in the public school system. This position included hardware/software installation, customer support, and writing training manuals. She also spent four years as a newspaper editor/reporter at the Willapa Harbor Herald.