Small fruits are best pruned during the dormant season, and blueberries are no exception. This dormant period runs from November to early April, well before leaves appear. However, with the mild weather so far this winter season, we suggest getting down to blueberry pruning now.
Here are a few tips: Prune only on a clear day when temperatures are above 20 degrees – you’ll be so much more comfortable! Aim for a time without heavy snow cover so that there are no lower branches buried in the snow (never pull these out as they are brittle in the cold and will readily snap). As always, look for deadwood and crossing branches to eliminate. Prune just above an outward facing bud.
You can now readily see the stems that will bear fruit – they have the largest buds and are the 1-3 year old wood at the tips of branches. Give these fruiting stems plenty of light and air circulation. Eliminate the oldest wood that is not budded as heavily, at the base of the plant if possible. Remove all pruning debris from the site, and we’re done!
If you’ve got a raspberry patch near the blueberries, plan to go after them as well in the dormant season but wait until March or April. We’ll discuss pruning strategies for these plants in a later newsletter.