Raspberry Pruning Techniques
When the plants have gone dormant for the year, remove all dead and
damaged canes at ground level. Thin the remaining canes so that you
leave five to 10 healthy, vigorous canes per plant, preferably
spaced about 4 inches apart. Thinning out the canes permits good air
circulation and sun exposure to minimize disease problems and
maximize fruit production.
If you did not do so this summer, top the remaining canes at 36
inches. The lateral branches are the ones that produce fruit and
should be cut back to 4 to 7 inches from the main cane. Next spring,
remove dead or winter-damaged tips back to healthy growth.
Throughout the summer, black raspberries should be topped back to 36
inches. You will have to repeat this two or three times throughout
the summer. This encourages the development of lateral (fruiting)
branches and increases the strength of the cane. As soon as you
harvest your crop, remove the canes that fruit at ground level. When
the plants have gone dormant for the winter, repeat the process of
thinning them out to five to 10 healthy canes per plant.
Red raspberries have a more
restrained growth habit than black raspberries, and do not have to
be trellised. They are usually grown in a 12- to 18-inch-wide
hedgerow. They produce new canes as suckers from the roots, rather
than growing from a crown like black raspberries. Everbearing red
raspberries' fruiting canes (primocanes) bear a crop at the top in
late summer and early fall, and then produce a small spring crop on
buds below those.
They can be pruned two ways. Some growers manage them the same as
June-bearing red raspberries. During the dormant season (March is
ideal), remove canes that have suckered up outside the hedgerow.
Thin the canes in the hedgerow to allow 6 to 8 inches between canes.
Be sure to remove weak or damaged canes and leave the healthiest,
most vigorous ones. Top the remaining canes to 5 or 6 feet high.
During the summer, the primocanes that have borne their second crop
should be removed at ground level.
Most growers sacrifice the small spring crop and cut everbearing red
raspberries to within 2 or 3 inches of the ground during the dormant
season. Even if you choose the second method, it is still a good
practice to thin out weak or damaged canes and allow 6 to 8 inches
between them. This promotes good air circulation and sun exposure to
produce a healthy crop.