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Insider Insights & Technical Tips

By Dane Castle, Fall Creek® Grower Support South Africa


How to prep your plants for pruning

This year has been a roller-coaster ride for many blueberry growers in South Africa – from new plantings to commercial expansions, it’s been non-stop. Not to mention the weather that served up its own set of challenges with record rainfall and abnormally cold winters. Right now, many of us are in the middle of harvesting, but with farming, we must always think ahead. So, let’s talk about prepping for the pruning of your plants.


Before you start


Always follow best management practices before you undertake any kind of pruning action. Here are a few key factors to consider:

  • Decide on your prune date. Discuss this with your Fall Creek Grower Support for you specific region.
  • Remove all feeding of your plant two to three weeks before the prune date. You will only be irrigating with pH treated water.
  • At the same time, reduce the volume of irrigation before pruning. Use 10% less water volume per week.


By following these steps, you will greatly reduce the risk of any plant loss or stress.


Pruning tips for evergreen plants

   1. Remove the horizontal, low branches completely. This is also known as your skirt.


   2. Cut out thin and differentiated branches from the lower part of the centre of the bush. This opens the structuring and allows light and airflow to reach the middle of the plant.


   3. Beginning with the largest canes, locate a new shoot around 40 cm from the base. Cut back the rest of the cane.


   4. Repeat this action with the other canes like this. They will be your larger, more lignified canes.


   5. Tip the younger green shoots at 15 to 20 cm. These can be identified as this year’s growth.


   6. Remove all the remaining thin, old, horizontal, and differentiated branches from the centre.


   7. Keep 5 to 8 canes, depending on the strength of the plant, that will form an open wine glass frame.

   8. Estimated time is approximately 3 minutes per bush.  

Ensure your team is correctly trained to ensure homogeneity of the field. If you wish to receive training by a specialist, please contact your local Grower Support Representative.


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