The Q&A Archives: Latham Raspberry - New Shoots

Question: Hello Smiling My raspberry bushes are in their second season. I was so happy to see them so full of leaves so far. My question is I've noticed random leaves growing from the soil. They aren't attached to the canes, however are seeming to be floating out in the remainder of the soil. Do I pull them as I would a weed or do I leave them to grow? Thanks for your help!

Answer: Your raspberries are sending up suckers, which is their way of renewing themselves. Here's why: The canes that fruit this year will not fruit next year so should be removed after you harvest your berries. This helps keep the plant healthy by allowing air and sun to reach all of the canes. Sometimes you can identify the older canes by traces of where you picked the berries or because they just look a little more weathered and old. Sometimes they die out after fruiting so certainly remove anything that is dead. Also remove anything that seems damaged or diseased. Next year, the fruit will be produced on second year canes (canes that grew this year), and you need to thin those out or the plants will be way too crowded. Thin by removing the weakest, least vigorous canes -- in other words, remove the skinnier or spindlier ones. Then shorten what is left to promote branching and thus increase the yield. If you make a few mistakes it will not kill the plants, but your harvest may not be quite as good. If you really can't tell which is which, just thin them out next spring and then tip them back and hope for the best. Next year, be sure to remove the ones that have fruited right after you pick the berries -- when you can still tell easily which are new growth and which are not. Now, back to the suckering shoots. You can allow them to grow, knowing that once the current canes bear fruit they will need to be pruned off the plant, or you can prune them off and wait for new sprouts to emerge next spring. What you do really depends upon how much room you have for your raspberries to grow. Hope this clarifies things for you!

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