In order to maintain good berry production, you must know when to prune blueberries in Oregon. Therefore, growers should view a longer-term view when pruning in winter. The raw material that will make them grow the next summer will be the key to having flower buds and high-quality fruit.
According to Bernadine Strik, extension specialist and horticulturist at OSU’s North Willamette Research and Extension Center for berry crops.
Put simply: prune aggressively, and prune hard.
By pruning too hard you reduce the yield, but pruning too little decreases shoot growth and restrict competition among the fruit, which reduces berry size, hampers handpicking efficiency, and delays harvest. However, too few or short shoots will leave a poor quality crop for the following year.
Pruning Blueberries: Why?
Several reasons make blueberry pruning a key winter task.
- Maintaining an open growth habit leads to increased airflow, a greater amount of sunlight reaching the center, and fewer diseases in the plant.
- Maintaining fertility by pruning annually promotes new fruit-producing stems.
- Branches that are dead or damaged are pruned.
- When a shrub is pruned, more energy is directed towards forming fruit instead of leaves.
- Ideally, pruned blueberries should be removed just enough to promote new growth. As well as to accomplish this without negatively affecting berry production.
When to Prune Blueberries – Step By Step Guide
Various cultivars of the highbush blueberry, native to North America, grow 6 to 12 feet tall and are the primary blueberry species in commerce. Highbush is a tall berry. During the dormant period in January and early March, Bernadine Strik, berry crops specialist at Oregon State University Extension Service, recommends pruning.
According to Strik’s research, bushes with annual, moderate pruning produce the greatest yields and largest berries.
How to Prune Blueberries ?
Analyze each of your blueberry bushes individually. If any branches are dead or damaged, remove them. You’ll need to cut them all the way back to where they join a thicker unit.
- Trim any crosses or rubbing branches that remain after removing damaged stems.
- In the past, blueberry bushes pruned correctly or those that are young need the following care:
- Remove one-third of the remaining branches all the way to the ground, choosing the oldest and thickest ones.
- Those mature blueberry plants that are overgrown and unpruned should be re-pruned carefully to increase new stem production by cutting half the branches back to the ground.
Tips for Pruning Blueberries
In growing blueberries, the way you prune depends on the plant’s age and how it has grown. For both situations, below you’ll find information on pruning blueberries step-by-step. First, I’d like to share a few things you need to know about pruning blueberries.
- You should not change blueberries into meatballs by shaving them back. In their outermost 2-3 inches of stem growth, they have fruiting buds. All of these buds are removed by shearing.
- Blueberry bushes will age if not pruned properly, and no new, fruit-producing branches will grow.
- A large proportion of older, unpruned blueberry bushes produce more leaves than berries, and the few berries produced are small and form only on the outer stems.
- Make sure you use sharp, clean pruning equipment. Before transferring pruning tools from bush to bush, disinfect them all. If you still don’t like spray pruning disinfectants, you can dip your tools in bleach or use Lysol spray to get your gear clean.
- In the summer and autumn of the previous season, blueberries produce flowers on old wood, meaning the buds for this year’s berry crop are formed. Keep your blueberry bushes protected from deer in the winter, or they will strip the stems of all buds.
To sum up, it is not difficult How to prune blueberries. Just you should know the step-by-step guide that we have given you above.