On cold spring mornings summer can seem like it’s years away, but farmers know differently. Before long, buds will be bursting and we’ll be in the midst of the New England growing season. If the upcoming berry seasons are going to be fruitful now is the time for prep work, and during the early spring our farmers have been helping the blueberries prepare for the coming harvest season with a little haircut.
How does pruning help the plant produce more berries? Blueberry fruit develops on woody canes produced in the previous season (one-year-old wood), and the fruiting wood will produce flower buds during the late summer. By pruning older or diseased canes and thinning the plant so that only the strongest canes remain, farmers and can help the plant concentrate its energy into producing the best tasting fruit.
But there is an art form to successfully pruning a blueberry bush. When plants are pruned too lightly, they become dense with weak, twiggy growth. These plants will fail to develop strong new wood for future fruit production and will produce small fruit. But if the blueberry bushes are pruned too heavily, they will not be able to produce enough energy to grow strong new canes and create new blossoms.
Pruning blueberries is an important part of our annual spring work to keep our crops healthy and help the bushes produce larger amounts of good quality fruit. Once the blueberry plants are mature, this means pruning the bushes every year using loppers and hand pruners. With 15 acres of blueberries at Jones Family Farms, pruning has become a major spring project for our farmers. With the completion of blueberry pruning for this year, we’ve created several towering piles of old blueberry canes!