Saturday, October 19, 2013

How to Prune Raspberries

Raspberries are one of my favorite fruits to grow at home!  They are easy to manage and are a worthwhile investment considering the price and flavor of those you can buy at the grocery store.

They require little maintenance each year, which involves pruning them.

First, a lesson on raspberries:
Each plant has 2 canes.  One cane produces berries, the other grows leaves only.
Each year, the "leaf" cane stores collects energy to store throughout the winter to produce a new came that will grow berries the following year.  It is important not to prune your raspberries until the leaves have fallen off - this allows time for the energy from the leaves to be transferred to the root of the plant.

Each year a new cane for growing berries will grow from each plant.  Once a cane has produced berries, it is useless after that.

So, when pruning, you have 4 jobs:
1) Remove canes that previously produced berries
2) Remove dead canes
3) Trim to desired height
4) Maintain boundaries

Here is my raspberry patch:  The leaves have fallen off or are dead, and it is a huge mess of vines.

First, locate the canes that grew berries on them.  You can easily spot these as they will have the stems still attached at the top of the cane, as pictured:

Once you have found the cane that produced berries, trace it back to the base of the plant.  Usually there will be another cane close by (the cane that grew the leaves).

Use shears to cut the cane that produced berries off right at ground level.

Continue removing all canes that produced berries.

Now go through and remove any dead canes.  Dead canes usually have a different texture than live do.  The bark is darker underneath, and the lighter top bark is try and is starting to peel off (you can see examples of this in the background of this picture):

Cut off all dead canes at ground level, just like you did the others.

Now it is time to trim the tops.  I usually leave mine about 4-5" tall.

After that, be sure to remove any plants that have grown out of your raspberry boundaries.  I usually dig these up completely in the fall and either give them away, sell them, or relocate them.  You can also do this in the spring.

Once you are finished, you will be left with considerably less raspberries than you started with.

Here is a before and after of the same area:

The first time I did this, I was terrified that I had just killed my plants.  I was sure that I had cut away too much, and that nothing would grow the next year.

But spring came and they started growing again: 

New canes shot up and started producing berries:

Here is that same section of pruned raspberries from the pictures above:

Pruning every year will ensure larger yields, and larger berries:

I got this from 1 picking.  This section of raspberries produces this much about every other day.

I hope this helps!  Take time this winter to ensure your plants will produce even more next year!

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