Dormant Pruning of Southern Highbush Blueberry


GEORGIA, from the University of Georgia Extension


Hello, my name is Erick Smith. I’m with the University of Georgia at the Tifton Campus, and I’m the small fruit specialist for South Georgia. Today we’re going to talk about pruning rabbiteye blueberries in the dormant season. The reason we prune rabbiteye blueberries in the dormant season is to entice the highest fruit quality we can possibly have when it comes time to pulling the fruit off the bush. Before we walk into the orchard, one of the most important things to do is have the appropriate tools so that you can make the right cuts at the right place a the right time when you’re out here. So what we’re going to take with us today are bypass type pruners, we’re going to take a large pole type pruner. We’re gonna have ourselves a small hand pruner. We’re gonna take a file so when they get dull we can sharpen them. We’re also, in between each one of the bushes, going to disinfect between each plant. Today we’ve got a 10% solution of bleach, you can use a25% solution of alcohol. At the same time, when you’re in there, wear gloves and safety glasses so you don’t stick yourself in the eye. So if you want to come with me we’re gonna go start pruning today. As we approach the bush, we have to think about the blueberry and its growth habits. Blueberry grows from the basal part of the plant, at the base with canes. The canes come up each year what we really want to try to establish is a rotation in the canes. And we want to only allow the canes to get to about six years old. The reason we want to keep them about six years old is that’s when the growth and the fruiting quality starts to drop off. Andthey start to get much more twiggier, smaller branching, that doesn’t support as much fruit and the fruit quality will be much smaller and be poorer. What we want to try to establish is good growth on the canes. Blueberry produces fruit on one-year-old wood. So this was grown last year and these are the fruiting buds out at the end here, these larger buds. If you look lower, you’ll find smaller triangle type buds. These are the leaf buds, that are here. This particular cane, right here, is going to grow good quality fruit. But when we come in here and we start seeing these smaller twiggy branches. What is going to happen, is these are not going to produce as high of quality of fruit. It will be smaller and the brix will be lower. We also want to bring in light inception into the plant and, because we want to try to renew the canes, we need to take out some of the older canes that are in there. When we approach the base of the blueberry plant, what we’re going to take out are some of the weaker shoots that are coming up. And we’re going to cut them at the base to the ground. We’re going to work our way into the plant. We’re going to remove all of the shoots that are coming up that are dead and out of the way. And then once we get to the center, we’re going to think about the renewal shoots. We have here a younger shoot that is in brown and it is small. So we’re going to retain this shoot. So that we can have new fruiting shoots coming the next few years. But what we want to do is we want to have light inception into the center. So we have to remove some of the larger older shoots that have weaker shoots up on the apical part of the plant. So what we’re going to do here, is at the base of this we’re going to come in and we’re going to pull this one out. Now we’ve taken out some larger wood, we need to take a look at the smaller wood, that’s in here. And we really need to pay attention to the lower hanging wood, here. This fruit that is going to be born on here is going to be hard to pick off and it is usually on a lot weaker shoots. So now we’re going to pull out some of the smaller lower wood that is in here. Now we’re moving into the upper part of the bush. We start to notice that there are some strong shoots that have good buds on it and good leaf buds. But we also notice that there’s a lot of weak wood inside here. What we want to do is, we want to remove the weak wood because you’re going to get poor fruit quality and smaller fruit from that wood. So, as we go along, we will start popping off shoots that have weak wood on the ends of them. And you can even pop them off with your hands. If they’re just small little pieces that are hanging out there. Only leave maybe three to four, good solid, fruiting shoots on each one of the ends of the the branches that you’re going to retain out here. Now we’re going to go through the whole plant and we’ll go prune this up and we’ll see what it’s going to look like.We’re going to probably remove somewhere between 50 to 70 percent of the fruiting wood out of this plant. So now we’re going to go on to the next plant. We clean our clippers, so that we don’t take any viruses or diseases from the last plant to the next one and we start our pruning process over again. Today we describe pruning of rabbiteye blueberry. What we did is remove the older weaker wood and we’re establishing a new set of canes to come up every year. What we want to try to do is entice the new growth to come along so we can have high-quality fruit every year If you have more questions on pruning or anything about blueberries, please contact your local County Extension agent They’ll be happy to help.


GGVideos’ editor’s note:  Demonstrates pruning of this Southern type of blueberry. Good look at tools, reasons why you prune and techniques.

2 Responses to “Dormant Pruning of Southern Highbush Blueberry”

  1. <path_to_url> Deborah Crabtree

    HI, I only see the transcript here but I’d love to see the video. Thank you!


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