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Brambles and grapes need pruning too.

Just like fruit trees, the vines and bushes that most berries and grapes grow on need to be pruned to provide maximum production.

Whether you're talking about raspberries, blackberries, grapes, or gooseberries, pruning those vines helps put more fruit on the table at harvest time. The techniques of pruning, however, differ.

For example, black and purple raspberries require both dormant and summer pruning, said Gerald Brown, extension fruits specialist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

During the dormant spring season, four to six of last year's canes should be left on each hill, and all lateral branches from the previous year's growth should be cut back to about 10 to 12 inches. Then in the summer, growers should pinch off the growing tips of the new canes as they reach two feet for black and three, feet for purple raspberries. This causes side branches to grow.

Spring bearing red raspberries commonly grow in a hedgerow system, Brown said. The row should be 14 to 18 inches wide. Tips are not pinched back for these berries since they do not branch in response to the practice. Weak and dead canes should be removed in the spring, leaving four or five vigorous ones for each foot of hedgerow.

"Thorny blackberries should be pruned similarly to black raspberries," Brown said. "Canes may be allowed to become slightly higher before summer pinching, however."

Semi-erect thornless blackberries should be trained on a trellis. Vigorous ones can be pinched when they get above the top trellis wire to help them keep in bounds. Then in the early spring before buds begin to swell, reduce the total cane number by about one-third, leaving the thickest, most vigorous ones.

Grapes should be pruned in early spring after severe cold weather is past, Brown said.

"Don't prune them while the wood is frozen, because frozen canes are brittle and the vines could be damaged," he d. "Pruning in late spring causes bleeding (sap flow) to occur, but there is no evidence such bleeding is harmful."

At planting, cut the vine back to two buds and train one trunk up to the top of the trellis by pinching off the lateral growth during the growing season.

The top one-third of the blueberry plant should be removed at the initial planting. For the next two years little pruning is needed except to remove broken or damaged branches. After the third growing season, prune the bush to open up the center early in spring.

Currants and gooseberries are pruned in late winter before growth begins. Both have similar growth patterns. After the first season, retain six to eight of the most vigorous shoots on a plant and cut the others off at ground level. After the second season leave four or five vigorous one-year-old shoots and three or four two-year-old canes. After the third year, retain three or four each from the one, two and three year canes. Since canes that are four-years-old or older produce very little fruit, those older canes should be removed.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:May 1, 1993
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