Triple Crown pruning

catfishhowardJuly 23, 2014

I live in Atlanta, Ga and I planted a 3 year old Triple Crown from a pot on June 15 of this year, I've pruned off the old limbs on July 5 that just fruited and now I'm left with 1 new can about 5' long, It's not growing very fast and I'm not sure when I should tip the top off to start the laterals growing. I have plenty of trellis and would like to let it grow 10'+ but I don't know when it will stop growing this year and I want to give plenty of time for good length laterals.

Another question, if a new lateral grows from this 5' long cane next spring will it fruit? or does my laterals need to be established before winter and pruned back to 20" just before spring?

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Cat. Your triple crown is doing almost exactly what my plants did three years ago when first planted. What you see in growth this year is not comparable to your plants in the following years. The first year the plant is growing roots mostly. You will get a small crop next year and the heavy crops will follow. My plant grew 15-20' the second year. It's your choice to tip or not. I would pinch about 1" of the tip now and then a few laterals will grow. Either way expect a small crop next year. The plant grouth is on a two year cycle. This years growth will fruit next year. After it fruits cut out this part and let the new canes grow for the following year. Good luck, Bill

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 7:55PM
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It's just my opinion but I don't think your three year old container grown plant would have enough roots to promote vigorous cane growth the first year.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 8:07PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Usually the plant produces small fruting canes off the main cane, and laterals already there. I doubt it will grow laterals next year. If it does, I would think they would fruit, yes.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 9:29PM
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Does anyone know about what month this year the plant would normally stop growing +/-? Atlanta, GA.

I seen a guy on Y-tube that pinched his tip's off in November which I don't understand, when will the laterals grow?

I just check my plant, it's growing faster then I thought, it looks like it has grown 2" in the last 2 days.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 9:47PM
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Temperature and daylight will impact the growth. Further north (Cincinnati area) my blackberries slow down in mid-October once temperatures start staying below 65F. If you are in the ATL area, you may get another 2-3 weeks.

My opinion, leave your TC as is. It's the size of a 1yr plant and pruning it now isn't going to make a significant difference in production next year. You are probably 2 years away from full production.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 11:16PM
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Agreed--a thing this small does not need any laterals and you have the room to let it go. Pinch it off if it overgrows the trellis, or route it to the ground this fall and start a new plant.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 11:52PM
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meredith_e Z7b, Piedmont of NC, 1000' elevation

I don't grow Triple Crown, but I'm in a similar climate generally, and my blackberries grew a lot in the spring before and during bloom, too. My Cherokees looked like yours last year (but with a couple of primocanes), and I still got a good crop this year after all the spring growth.

Now its new floracanes are insane (I had no idea how fast they grew)! The next year is definitely different than the first in the ground, lol. You'll see a lot more growth after the winter before bloom, too, I suspect.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 1:39AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Different strokes for different folks. I don't prune as much to increase production, but to thicken cane so that it has better support. Berries don't end up on the ground, or weight doesn't threaten breaking the cane.
Much like a fruit tree. I usually am liberal and cut a lot off, usually at the point cane begins to taper down in size. Laterals will also be cut back for the same reason.
I have found this will also give you bigger berries.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 5:39AM
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I very new to this so another question.

My understanding is that fruit doesn't grow from the main cane but the laterals that grow out of it and laterals won't grow any if you don't pinch the top off now, you'll just have a vine with no berries.

Could I let it grow the rest of this year and tip it after the last frost next year (around March), if so, will the laterals have time to grow (18" or so) and fruit by July?

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 8:01AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Fruit will grow off the main stem. At least all of mine do. I don't know if laterals will have time to grow, not sure where you're at? Even if mentioned with so many users, I can't remember. If you look at my name, you know where I'm from, even if you forget, a quick glance tells you. Ok I see you mention Atlanta, yes, it probably will have time to grow. Let us know how it turns out.
Sometimes even without tipping laterals grow.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 8:09AM
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If you tip the Triple Crown primocane while it is actively growing, you will get lateral branching. These lateral branches will have additional buds that next year will sprout fruiting laterals that will have flowers that will result in more fruit. Because the plant has a finite amount of resources available for fruiting, as the number of berries increase the resources to fuel their growth are rationed by the plant, possibly resulting in smaller berries. If you prune back the lateral branches some, thus reducing the number of buds that can send out fruiting laterals, you can increase the size and quality of the berries. In theory, you should end up with the same amount of production by weight either way. You would end up with fewer berries of larger size and better quality or more berries of a smaller size.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 12:07PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Yes, that is the theory, I think true too, certainly is with stone fruit. It just makes sense too. Next year if I can get them through the winter I'm going to be swimming in blackberries. It's a bummer as I no doubt lost maybe 500 berries this year due to winter injury.
Next year if I get enough I want to make white blackberry jelly. Jam may look strange, white and cloudy. But a jelly will look cool. The look will not match the taste either.
My Burbank white blackberry has 4 canes growing. One cane of Nettleton's creamy white blackberry. I was told they are winter hardy, will protect somewhat anyway.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 1:41PM
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Triple Crown main cane will put out fruiting spurs next year right down to the ground--laterals or not.

Main cane fruiting spurs on future-year vigorous canes can be up to 3 feet long, lateral spurs stay under 2 feet. The main cane spurs tend to ripen later than the lateral spurs.

If catfish wants fruiting laterals, let them / cause them to form this year, not next year.

Although your new cane may be exciting, you are a year or two away from making major pruning decisions.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 10:24PM
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I didn't prune anything my first year, last year 2013. I let the canes grow as much as possible.

This is a photo of my TCs late last year. This was from Nourse farms bare root stock planted mid May to late August.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 7:23PM
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This year 2014 about 50% of the vines died from the winter. It is very windy here in South Coast MA one mile off Buzzards Bay.

I have been astounded at the growth of these canes. Last years were fat pencil sized. This year they are about 3/4 to 1" at the base. I know they are too crowded. I will leave the best 4 canes per plant very early next spring.

I did not net them because I wanted to see how bad the birds will be compared to my Blue Berries. The birds won't leave a Blue Berry if I don't cover them

This photo is from the first week of June.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 8:11PM
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Here is a photo from this evening. I had to use a different angle due to the sun. My top wires are a little over 6 feet. Like I said it is probably too thick but the more I have on top the better the root system


    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 10:56PM
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That's the way to do it, see what comes through the winter and thin if there is too much remaining next year.

A row like that would eventually produce over 100 pounds of fruit yearly, even keeping just 4 canes (and their laterals) per plant.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 11:33PM
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Thanks for the pictures, did you have a nice crop of blackberries this year on the canes you left alone in 2013?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 7:14AM
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I put this question on a post of my own and only got one response so I will ask again and try to get a little more advice.

I have already pinched back the main canes and have very, very long laterals. Is it not recommended to cut back the laterals until they are dormant?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 9:37AM
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There are quite a few there. The TCs seemed to flower for a month but I may not get any because of the birds. I have planted another row 6 Arapahoe and 6 Natchez. I have to build another trellis and construct a cover for them by next June.

I have 14 Blue Berries covered and if they weren't I wouldn't get a berry. A few years ago I picked some Blackberries about 5 miles from my place. There was no net and no birds.....go figure. Plus I had a couple of people tell me birds didn't bother their blackberries but I don't think that will work for me.

Here is a photo of the new row with sweet potatoes then more potatoes to the left.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 10:19AM
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To the podpiper: This is my second season so take anything I say with a grain of salt. I got my first plants from Nourse farms and followed their instructions.

I have been nipping my laterals because they are so thick. If your plants are 4' apart and you cut the laterals to 2' they will still interfere with each other

I will see if I can get a picture of my daughter standing in front to give you an idea of how thick every thing is. It may take a couple of days though.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 10:32AM
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I actually have 2 canes on the TC, one 5' long and the other only 3' long. I think I will let the 5' long grow without tipping the tip until after the last frost in March or so. I think I will tip the 3' cane around this August 15, maybe It will grow to 4' by then and have a month or so to send out laterals. Don't except a lot of fruit next year due to the late planting this year so I might as well do a test between leaving a cane along vs tipping and lateral growth, that's if any laterals will grow in August - October, not 100% sure when the growing season stops in Atlanta, GA?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 10:49AM
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You can prune TC laterals at any time, during the growing season or afterward. If pruned during the growing season, the laterals will form more laterals, so for ease of autumn pruning and training, best just to let the laterals grow and prune them to length one time.

TC laterals from adjacent plants cannot "interfere" with each other, except in the cosmetic sense. You can let them overlap each other, bundle them, etc. I have bundled up to 6 with no loss of production. Bundling of canes and laterals is common in commercial fields for some varieties of blackberry.

Cutting laterals short during the season may eliminate the option of tip-rooting some to form new plants.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 11:06PM
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meredith_e Z7b, Piedmont of NC, 1000' elevation

I don't know how everyone else handles tip borers, but I decided not to summer prune my brambles when I saw several tips getting hit (with the two bands that indicate egg injection or however that's phrased). This way, I have a lot of cane to sacrifice if I didn't catch the larvae fast enough.

It seems like that's fairly easy to catch, though. No tips have wilted later like I didn't cut off enough the first time. Still, I figured it was good to mention. I'd hate to have pruned just where I liked and then find I had to take them shorter due to borers.

It looks like I could prune now, because I think the borers aren't laying now (from noticing symptoms) and the canes have grown quite long. This was about mid-summer when I got the urge to prune. Timing seems to matter with borers and your pruning, I guess I'm saying :) That's just from observation and my speculation, so don't take my word as expertise, though, lol!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 2:58PM
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To Larry Gene. Thanks for that tip on the laterals. That is the kind of info I need.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 7:46AM
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