WOW, am I glad that fall has held on warm! There's always so much work to get ready for winter...but knowing spring is also very busy, every effort is made to get work done in advance that can be done in the fall.
Such as - pruning of grapes, blueberries and raspberries.
Once these plants lose their leaves and are dormant, it is safe to prune them.
Here is what the raspberry canes look like before:
Stage one of fall pruning is to take out the old canes that produced this year. They will die anyway and not produce again. It's pretty easy to tell which ones they are - they are less golden brown in color and starting to shed their bark. They also tend to have side branches.
During the first part of pruning, new shoots that are small, spindly, or have poor growth form are also removed. Excess shoots may also be removed, determining this from the size of the shoots. Larger diameter canes are produced on more established plants that can support several shoots.
Any new growth directly under the support string is removed.
Here is a plant damaged by deer browse. Not only has this caused the plant to send out side shoots and become bushy, but later deer damage has left the cut branches lying on the ground.
Here is the same plant pruned. By necessity, it ends up shorter than desired.
Once the first stage of pruning is done, the patch looks much less crowded, with no canes heading along the ground since every effort is made to save only those growing straight.
Last is to prune the canes to a uniform height. The easiest to use is the height of the top string support, that's about 3 - 3 1/2 feet tall. The pruning cut is just above a bud and the plant will grow from there in the spring, as well as setting side branches. Once the plants are well spaced, more fruit is produced as each plant can get more sun and water.
The final part of the project this year was to put a second string line on the upper section,
in the hopes that the deer will cease and desist their browsing!