The Q&A Archives: Pruning Raspberries

Question: When is the right time to prune raspberries? Also, how much do you prune? Each year my plants end up 5-6 feet tall and I usually cut off the parts that look dead. Am I able to cut/prune during the year to keep the plants smaller or will this trim the amount of berries I receive? The plants are your basic raspberries, but I have a couple of the ones with very large berries and are a purple color.

Answer: Raspberry pruning techniques depend upon whether you have fall-bearing or summer-bearing plants. If you have fall-bearing raspberries, cut the canes that produced fruit down to the soil after the leaves turn yellow in the autumn. You don't need to save any canes because new fruiting canes will develop in the spring. If you have summer-bearing plants, prune in the early spring, cutting off any spindly canes and thinning the remaining ones to leave 2-4 of the largest, straightest cane per foot of row. Cut off any suckers that are sprouting outside the row. Then cut the remainng canes back to 4'-5'. Fruit will form on laterals that develop on the remaining canes. It's not a good idea to prune these types of raspberries during the summer, or you might inadvertantly cut off the wood that will produce your crop. Purple raspberries bear fruit on second-year canes, with most of their fruit on sideshoots. During the summer, cut the tip off each cane when it's about 2 1/2' - 4' high. This will force it to develop sturdy side branches. After harvest, cut the spent floricanes back to the ground.

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