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How to Prune Red Raspberries

ripe raspberry on bushRaspberry bushes are long lived productive fruit plants when given the proper care. Outs have been giving us a small handful of velvety tart fruit every day for almost a month now. The most important element of their care is proper pruning.

To understand how to prune raspberries, it is important to understand how they fruit. Each plant displays two canes at a time, the primocane (first year cane) and floricane (fruit producing cane). The canes alter the years in which they produce. In other words, the canes that are producing now will not produce the following year.

There are two approaches to pruning.  The first is to cut all canes to the ground in the autumn after harvest.  This method is foolproof and the most tidy-looking in the landscape.

The method we employ is to cut back only the oldest canes, the canes that just produced fruit, after fall harvest. The reason for selective pruning is that the canes left up will produce a small crop in late spring.  A bigger crop will still come in autumn.

Speaking of spring, you'll want to prune for height and spacing then.  Trim canes back to four or five feet and remove any canes that are growing out of alignment to your trellis (if you use one) and/or within four inches of established canes.  If I find new growth far from my patch, I dig it up and give to a friend.

how to prune raspberry bushes

The actual act of pruning is fairly simple.  Wear gloves to protect your hands from thorny stems.  Using sharp loppers or pruning shears, cut canes at a few inches above the ground.  Cut as cleanly as possibly to prevent disease.  Remove old canes and add to your compost bin or yard waste.  We already trimmed our berries so Kristin Marks, Cbusmom, stepped in to take this photo of hers. Thanks!

If you happen to not have raspberries in your garden, I highly encourage planting them.  They are simple to grow without chemicals, come back year after year, and the sun-warmed berries that come from a backyard raspberry plant?  Beyond compare.