Blackberry Cane Loss & Pruning
Hello everyone. I've done some searching of posts re pruning, but I'm still hopelessly confused.
Here are my issues. I planted three Apache thornless blackberry plants about 3-4 years ago. I believe they're what's called an upright variety. They've gotten too big for their area and I plan to dig and move them when I have the time, but for right now they're staying where they are.
They seem to grow fine, but once they're around 4 feet tall or so, if you look at them the wrong way the canes snap off where they join the main canes. We just had 3 days of windy, rainy weather and I'd say less than half, but more than a third of my canes were broken off and laying on the ground once the storm was over. I constantly have problems with the canes snapping and breaking where they join each other. I try to tie the main canes to stakes, but my set-up is pathetic at the moment and I need to get some better trellis/supports going for them. Is this my problem? Am I going to have to tie every single cane to a support in order to keep them from snapping off?
My other problem is I'm pruning challenged. My bushes are a mass of tangled branches that I clip back throughout the year as canes intrude where they don't belong, but I have no rhyme or reason to my madness. It seems I have a mass of foliage that's blocking sunlight because I never get berries anywhere but the outside portions of the branches. Lots of clusters of berries that form inside the tangle of foliage just rot on the plant and are molded before they are ripe enough to pick, so I'm assuming I need to prune to let in more light to the inner branches as well. But I have no idea what I should be cutting, what I should be leaving, when to do it, etc. I've read about primocanes and lateral canes, first and second year canes, etc. in various posts, but I still don't really understand what I'm supposed to be doing.
Sofar, all I've been doing is cutting all the branches down to about 2 feet tall in early spring and what grows from there and doesn't break off flowers and I get whatever berries I'm going to get. If I had to guess, last year was the most I've gotten sofar and that was probably around 2-3 pounds of berries. I'd love to increase my yield by pruning better and I'd like to avoid all these huge canes snapping off as I assume I'm losing lots of berries with these lost canes. Berries rotting and getting fuzzy with mold before they ripen is a bummer as well.
Thanks so much for any advice you can give me!!