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When to Prune Raspberries

Updated July 20, 2017

Determining the type of raspberries growing in your yard and how to prune them is confusing. Once you learn the difference between ever-bearing and summer-bearing raspberries, basic pruning techniques and when to prune your raspberries, you can enjoy a harvest from even a small patch of raspberry canes.

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Raspberry Basics

Before you begin pruning your raspberries, learn the difference between primocanes and floricanes. Raspberry roots are perennial, but the canes are biennial. Primocanes are the first-year canes and produce vegetative growth. These canes are young, thin and a bright colour. Floricanes are the second-year growth. Floricanes are generally thicker, woodier and produce flowers and fruit. Once you discover the difference between these canes, pruning your raspberries is easier.

Pruning Summer-Bearing Raspberries

Summer bearing raspberries only produce on second year canes, or floricanes. If you prune summer-bearing raspberries to the ground, you will never have berries. In March or early April, remove all weak, diseased or damaged canes to the ground. Leave the most vigorous canes. After the berries are harvested in the summer, prune all the fruiting canes to the ground, leaving the primocanes for next years' production.

Pruning Ever-Bearing Raspberries For Two Crops

Ever-bearing raspberries produce two crops throughout the season. The first crop is produced on the primocanes' tips. The second crop is produced on the lower portion of these same floricanes. In March or early April, remove all weak, diseased and damaged canes leaving only the vigorous ones. Prune the tips of the canes. Once the floricanes have produced in the summer, remove the old fruiting canes to the ground, leaving the newest primocanes for a fall harvest.

Pruning Ever-Bearing Raspberries For One Crop

Ever-bearing raspberries can also be pruned for one large fall crop. In March or early April, prune all canes to ground level. This method eliminates the summer crop, but the fall crop matures one to two weeks earlier. This pruning method is easy, fast and requires no special attention to which cane has fruited and which has not. Skipping the summer crop also deters problems with late spring frost damage and disease.

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About the Author

Throughout Heidi Mortensen's career, she has worked as a nursery manager, horticulture specialist and master gardener volunteer for Cornell Cooperative Extension. She has also written articles for local newspapers, gardening fact sheets and dealer publications. Mortensen has a Bachelor of Science in horticulture from Utah State University.

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