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  Time to Trim Those Berries
  November 17th, 2006

Cut Those Berries Now!

Black Currants:
Black currants fruit best on year-old branches, so in pruning an established bush the aim is to remove the oldest shoots and encourage new ones. Prune while the plant is dormant.
1. Only start pruning once they are old enough to fruit reliably. Cut back one-third of the shoots close to the base, choosing the oldest.
2. Cut back to their point of origin any diseased, damaged or badly placed shoots.
3. The bush should have plenty of well-spaced young shoots.

Red and White Currants:
Unlike black currants, these fruit on shoots that are at least two years old. They are usually grown on a ‘leg’ (a short length of clear stem) as shown, but can be grown as a bush or trained as cordons.
1. If it was not done in the summer, start by removing any crossing or over-crowded shoots, to allow plenty of light into the center of the bush.
2. When badly placed shoots have been removed, shorten last summer’s growth at the tip of each main shoot by half.
3. Finally, cut back the side-shoots to within one or two buds of the main stems. This will encourage fruiting.
4. On an old bush it may be necessary to cut out a few very old shoots that no longer fruit well, but try to leave a vigorous young sideshoot to replace each one.

Autumn-fruiting raspberries bear fruit on canes grown that year, so pruning is easy. Summer-fruiting raspberries fruit on shoots that are a year old, so be careful not to prune last summer’s shoots.
1. Provided you are sure the variety is autumn-fruiting, simply cut all the canes down to ground level while they are dormant.
2. On summer-fruiting raspberries cut the old canes (dark stems) that fruited this summer to just above the ground. Tie in the remaining shoots to support wires if necessary.
3. If the raspberries have been growing undisturbed for several years, the clumps may have become congested. Thin out surplus canes to leave them about 3 inches apart.

Gooseberries fruit on shoots that are a year or more old, and continue to fruit quite well even if you neglect pruning. But with spiny stems, the fruit is difficult to harvest if not pruned annually.
1. If the job was not done after harvesting, cut out any low branches near the soil to an upward-pointing bud, and also eliminate any badly placed and crossing branches. Try to ensure that the center of the bush is left open.
2. While the bush is dormant, reduce the length of new summer growth at the tips of the main shoots by about half. Then go along each main branch and prune back the sideshoots to two buds from the old wood.
3. If the plant is old, cut out one or two of the oldest shoots, to a point where there is a younger replacement to take over.

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