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Pruning Summer Fruiting Raspberries – How To Prune Summer Raspberry Bushes

Pruning Summer Fruiting Raspberries – How To Prune Summer Raspberry Bushes


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By: Teo Spengler

Summer bearing red raspberry plants can turn your backyard into a delightful snacking area during the warm months. These productive brambles produce luscious summer berry crops year after year if you prune them correctly. When do you prune summer bearing raspberries? How to prune summer raspberry bushes? Read on for all the information you need.

Summer Bearing Red Raspberry Plants

It’s easier to remember the rules for when and how to prune summer raspberry bushes if you understand how they grow.

The root systems on summer bearing red raspberry bushes live for many years and send up shoots each year. The shoots grow to full height the first year, then produce those sweet red berries the following summer. They die after fruiting.

When Do You Prune Summer Bearing Raspberries?

The rules for pruning summer fruiting raspberries are not complex. Once the shoots fruit, they die, so you can cut them down immediately after harvest.

However, summer bearing raspberry pruning is complicated by the fact that even as second-year canes are fruiting, new canes are growing in. The trick to pruning summer fruiting raspberries is to distinguish between the two and trim each type of cane appropriately.

Summer Bearing Raspberry Pruning Tips

It is easiest to distinguish the second-year canes during harvest. All summer bearing shoots with berries are second-year shoots and should be pruned out, at ground level, after harvest.

However, you also need to thin the first-year canes if you want to have a good crop. Do this during the end of dormancy, in late winter or early spring.

When you are pruning summer fruiting raspberries’ first-year canes, remove the smallest and weakest ones first. Only leave one plant every four to six inches (10 to 15 cm.).

The next step is shortening the remaining canes. Remember that the top of the shoot has the most fruit buds, so only trim off the very tip. The canes will be about five or six feet (1.5 to 2 m.) tall when you are done.

You’ll get more berries if you also prune out the first wave of new canes in the spring. Prune these out when they are about six inches (15 cm.) tall.

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Read more about Raspberries


Pruning Red Raspberries

John Ball

Professor, SDSU Extension Forestry Specialist & South Dakota Department of Agriculture Forest Health Specialist

Raspberries are some of the best small fruits for South Dakota. Home-grown berries can be picked at the peak of freshness and either eaten fresh or made into jams and preserves. There are red, purple and black raspberries. Almost all the raspberries adapted to our South Dakota climate are red raspberries. The pruning needs of red raspberries, both summer- and fall-bearing, are covered in this article.

Red raspberries can produce a quart of fruit or more per linear row, but high yield fruit production requires annual pruning. While raspberries have a long-lived root system, the canes are biennials meaning the individual canes live for only two years. A summer-bearing raspberry cane grows the first year, often to a height of 3 to 5 feet and then flowers and fruits the second summer before dying. Fall-bearing raspberry canes produce flowers and fruit at their tips during the late summer or fall of their first year and then a second crop lower on the same canes the following summer before dying.


All About Pruning Raspberries

ulleo / Pixabay

It’s only since working in gardens myself that I’ve become aware of just how many of us green-fingered folk have fruit gardens. In addition to a the obligatory well-sized veg patch, many of my customers had ample-sized fruit orchards. Others had abundant and overflowing fruit cages, unlimited pots of blueberries, and rows of messy, plump, and utterly sublime raspberries.

The peculiar part is that very few people actually know how and when to carry out the annual pruning chore. Today I aim to change that, and take you through my recommended method of pruning raspberries. I’ll do this step by step, in an easy-to-follow, straightforward way that someday, you may be able to share with someone else.


Left unpruned, red raspberries are their own worst weed. When canes get overcrowded, they compete for sunlight, causing the shaded leaves and buds on the lower half of the plant to die. Without those buds, you’ll have fewer fruiting branches and a much smaller crop.

Crowded canes also compete for nutrients and water, which leads to small, poor-tasting fruit. And the shady, moist conditions around a dense thicket are a magnet for fungal diseases, such as gray mold, spur blight, and anthracnose.

Pruning is the most effective way to avoid these headaches. A yearly thinning allows plenty of sunlight and air to penetrate the bramble, which means you’ll have bigger, healthier crops and a much easier time picking those sweet red berries.

Red raspberry plants, before pruning.
Photo/Illustration: Ann Stratton

Before you start, know your primocanes from your floricanes

Red raspberry plants, after pruning.
Photo/Illustration: Ann Stratton

To prune any plant properly, you need to understand its growth cycle. In the case of red raspberry, the roots and crown are perennial but the canes are biennial (they live for only two years). The first year, they emerge as green primocanes and form fruiting buds. If you have a summer-bearing variety, these buds won’t flower until the following year. If you have an everbearing variety, the buds at the tips of your primocanes will give you a small fall crop, and the buds lower on the canes will remain dormant until next season. As winter nears, primocanes drop their leaves and develop a thin brown bark.

In their second year, the canes are called floricanes. The previous year’s buds grow into fruiting branches and bear a summer crop. As their berries ripen, floricanes begin to senesce. Their leaves turn red or yellow, and they die as winter approaches. A big part of pruning a red raspberry is getting rid of these spent floricanes. To keep your plants from getting unruly during the growing season, cut back any new canes that emerge outside the desired row width of 2 feet however, don’t touch the new green shoots growing within the prescribed row width. It’s not until late winter that you prune the entire plant.

In fall, resist the temptation to cut out the dying flori­canes that fruited that summer. Research conducted at Cornell University indicates that these canes send carbohydrates to the crown and roots well into early winter, helping the plant survive dormancy.

4 simple steps to pruning raspberries

Photo/Illustration: Judy Simon

1. Remove last year’s canes
The first step of the late-winter pruning process is to remove all of last year’s spent floricanes. By removing these dead canes, you prevent disease spores from overwintering on them and spreading to new canes. Floricanes have peeling gray bark and old fruiting lateral branches on them. Cut all of these dead canes right to the ground.

2. Narrow the row
The recommended row width is 1½ to 2 feet. Prune to the ground any canes that are growing outside of this perimeter. It doesn’t matter how nice the cane looks if it’s out of bounds, cut it off. Keeping the rows narrow is critical for preventing disease and making fruit easy to reach during harvest time.

Step 3: Cut out the weaklings.
Photo/Illustration: Ann Stratton Step 4: Attach the canes to a trellis.
Photo/Illustration: Ann Stratton Step 4: Attach the canes to a trellis.
Photo/Illustration: Ann Stratton

3. Cut out the weaklings
Go into the plant row, and cut out any canes that appear weak, spindly, or short or that are showing obvious symptoms of insect injury or disease.

The final cuts are thinning cuts. All that you want to have remaining in the row are the tallest, thickest, healthiest-looking canes. Continue to cut away the less vigorous canes, and space out the ones you plan to keep. Make sure that the canes aren’t so close together that they will crowd and shade each other.

You’ll know that you are finished pruning when the raspberry planting has only three to five canes per linear foot. This should look drastically thin to you.

4. Attach canes to a trellis
There are a number of different trellis styles, but I like V trellises best for red raspberries. In this design, two parallel wires, spaced 3 feet apart, run along the outside of your row of raspberries. The wires are attached to support posts at each end and set about 4 feet off the ground.

Attach each cane to a wire using twine, twist ties, tomato ties, or rubber bands. (Make sure that the ties you use are easy to take off. The primocanes you tie to the wire this year will be the spent floricanes you’ll need to remove next year.) Tie the canes so that roughly half of them are on one side of the row and half are on the other side. Because the row is only 1½ to 2 feet wide at its base and you are spreading the canes out to 3 feet wide on the trellis wires, the row of canes will form the shape of a V. This opens up the center of the row to improve light penetration and air movement, thus inhibiting the growth of fungal diseases and encouraging new canes to grow in the center of the row, rather than along the outside edges. Furthermore, this trellis method puts the fruiting canes on the outside and keeps most of the new canes on the inside of the row, which makes for easier harvesting and less wasted fruit.

Once you’ve tied each cane to a wire, gather all of the cut canes and dispose of them. Leaving them at the foot of your plants attracts diseases and pests.

What about black raspberries?

The canes of black raspberry are biennial, just like those of red raspberry. But because black raspberry’s growth habit is different, this plant requires an extra pruning step.

The canes of black raspberry tend to grow longer than those of red raspberry. The tips of the canes arch down to the ground and form their own roots, essentially creating new plants. While this makes black raspberry easy to propagate, it also leads to overcrowding. The other major difference is that the primocanes of black raspberry develop side shoots or branches, which only develop on the floricanes of the red variety. These shoots form buds that will bear fruit the following year. To encourage more fruit-bud development and prevent the cane tips from rooting, you should tip the primocanes of black raspberry in summer before they get too tall. When the canes reach about 30 inches long, simply cut off the top 2 to 3 inches of stem growth. This will encourage more side shoots and fruit buds as well as keep the canes at a more workable height. In late winter, prune the canes as you would for red raspberry. Note: Although you can train black raspberry on a V trellis, a single wire trellis will better accommodate the plant’s branching habit

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How and When to Prune Raspberries

How you prune a raspberry plant depends upon when the plant bears fruit—once a year or twice a year.

Raspberries can be divided into two types by when they bear fruit: (1) one-crop, summer-bearing raspberries also called standard raspberries and (2) two-crop, summer and fall bearing raspberries, also called ever-bearing raspberries.

Red raspberries can bear one-crop or two-crops per season depending upon the variety. Yellow raspberry varieties bear two crops per season. Black and purple raspberry varieties bear one crop per season.

Raspberry canes are biennials—meaning they live for two years (raspberry canes grow from suckers on root-like underground stems or by cane tips that bend to the ground and root). One-crop summer-bearing raspberries produce fruit on canes that grew the previous summer and over-wintered. Two-crop, ever-bearing raspberries produce fruit on canes that grew the previous summer and also on new canes that grew during the current season.

How to Prune One-Crop, Summer-Bearing Raspberries

Raspberry plants are pruned by cutting back canes after they bear fruit.

Cut back one-crop, summer-bearing raspberry canes as soon as the harvest is over. Cut these just harvested canes down to the ground.

Do not prune back new canes that have emerged during the summer. After the old, fruit-bearing canes have been cut back, train the new canes to a post or to one or two horizontal wires. These canes will produce a crop next year.

If you are growing raspberries in a row, thin out the new canes to leave 6 inches between remaining canes that way your fruit-bearing canes will not be too crowded next season.

How to Prune Two-Crop, Ever-bearing Raspberries

Two-crop, ever-bearing raspberries produce fruit on the top third or ends of new canes in the autumn of their first season, and laterally on the lower two thirds of the same canes in the spring of their second season.

Prune off the top of the cane of a two-crop raspberry that has borne fruit cut the cane back to the lowest point on the cane that bore fruit (usually about 45 inches from the ground). Leave the bottom of the cane to fruit the following spring or early summer. After the lower portion of the cane has fruited in the second year, cut those canes back to the ground. At the same time train the new canes that will bear in the fall up a stake or trellis.

The lower two-thirds of canes of ever-bearing raspberries that overwinter to bear fruit the next spring or early summer are commonly staked or trellised. If you do not want to stake or trellis ever-bearing raspberries, cut back all of the canes after the fall harvest that means you will get only one harvest from your two-crop, ever-bearing raspberries.


Floricane/Summer Bearing Red Raspberry Production

Floricane/Summer Bearing Red Raspberry Production – The Ins and Outs

Brambles are a high value crop much in demand. Here we focus on on summer bearing red raspberries: an excellent complement to strawberries. Varieties typically ripen after strawberries, but before significant SWD pressure.

Site Preparation
• Preparations for red raspberry plantings should begin at least one year in advance. We advise taking soil samples to get a read on your pH, % organic matter and overall fertility to make any necessary changes the year before planting.

• We recommend a pH in the 6.5 – 6.8 range with a minimum 2-3% organic matter. A nutritionally healthy planting in a well-drained soil with exposure to air movement is less susceptible to damage from pests and frosts.

• Raspberries require good internal soil drainage to grow and do best on a well-drained sandy loam. Wet soils restrict root growth and respiration, resulting in weak growth and reduced yields.

• Planting on raised beds is highly recommended to improve soil drainage in the rooting zone, particularly on heavier soils. Selecting a site with a gentle slope (3-4%) and good air drainage will also promote faster drying of foliage, flowers and fruit which will reduce the duration and frequency of disease infection periods Recommended plant spacing is 18 – 24 inches in the row and 10-12 feet between rows.

• Drip irrigation is an essential component to successful raspberry production. Plants generally require 1 to 2 inches of water per week during the growing season and 2 to 3 inches per week during harvest. We suggest having your local irrigation sales company review your field layout for the best recommendations for your situation.

Choosing a variety

Picking the appropriate varieties for your operation is one of the most important decisions a grower can make. In northern areas, winter-hardiness is a key factor in choosing a variety. On the flipside, in zones 7 & 8, care should be taken in variety selection to ensure the fruit can handle intense summer heat. The following is summary of key summer bearing varieties – additional information on these and other varieties can be found on our website or in our catalog.

PRELUDE - Well accepted early variety. Growers like the early season primocane crop combined with good berry quality. In some locations, Prelude produces a primocane/fall crop.

NOVA - In the trifecta of summer bearing key varieties, a very consistent second variety in ripening time. Nova is dependable for winter hardiness, overall plant vigor and being highly productive.

KILLARNEY - In similar ripening window as Nova, some growers prefer this variety for its performance, better fruit quality, and flavor in their conditions.

AAC EDEN - Tested as K06-2, AAC EDEN was released by Andrew Jamieson at Kentville, Nova Scotia. Mid-season, summerbearing floricane. A cross between Glen Ample and K93-11, the strong canes are spineless and demonstrate moderate winter hardiness. The conical fruit are large, firm, light to medium in color with excellent flavor.

ENCORE - Best alternative for a late floricane bearing raspberry. Encore is not the most productive, but fruit quality is excellent. Encore is also the best variety to connect to the primocane/ fall bearing season.

Planting & Fertilization

Avoid planting raspberries in soils where previous crops have included brambles, strawberries, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant or peppers. Destroy all wild raspberries and other brambles within 500 to 1,000 feet of your planting site. We recommend planting early in the spring when soil temperatures are in the 45 – 50-degree range. With a bare root red raspberry planting, tips to remember: • Suggest soaking the plants for up to 2 hours before planting, taking care to keep the roots moist during the planting process.

• Do not plant too deep. We recommend digging a trench approximately 3-4” deep, laying the roots horizontally along the trench making sure roots are 1 – 1 ½” below the soil surface. Keeping roots at this depth and not too deep allows for easier sucker development from the roots.

• Consider using a product such as Agri-gel TM to help support plants through short dry spells.

• Consider the use of plastic as a weed barrier on the planting year. Contact us for details. Do not fertilize at planting. Earlier in this article, we recommend a soil sample the previous year to determine nutritional needs. If needed, once plants are established,
apply 20-35 pounds actual nitrogen per acre based on soil type. Higher levels of actual nitrogen may be recommended in subsequent years based on soil tests.

Tunnel Production

Not necessarily new to some growers, high tunnel raspberry production has been a topic at many of the winter meetings, with discussion of variety selection and overall production. We have had excellent success in using high tunnels in our own bramble production, including summer bearing red raspberries, and welcome any questions you might have.

Trellising & Pruning

We recommend all brambles, including red raspberries, be supported by trellis. A trellis keeps canes upright and fruit off the ground, makes picking much easier, and maintains good aeration throughout the planting which helps with disease control. We have been successful using a T-bar trellis which supports 2 wires 12” apart at 3’ to 4’ above the ground. Some taller-growing varieties, such as Nova and Prelude, might benefit from a T-trellis with two T-bars – one at 3’ and one at 4’. Growers of Summer-Bearing varieties find it’s helpful to attach first year canes to the wires on one side of the trellis, alternating this with each year’s new canes. Summer-Bearing (Floricane-Bearing) red raspberry varieties carry one crop of berries during the summer on over-wintered canes. For best yields, immediately after harvest, cut the canes that carried fruit as close to the ground as possible and remove from the field. Thin remaining new growth to 6-8 strong, healthy canes per running foot of row.

Pest Management

Good weed control during the first year is essential. Raspberry plants are sensitive to most herbicides during the first few months after planting. Research from Cornell has shown that applying a clean straw mulch (4 inches deep) to newly plant raspberries provides good weed control. On heavy soils mulch should be used only in the first year since straw mulch over a prolonged period can encourage the development of root rots. We do not recommend bark mulch or any other mulch material besides straw. Like any crop, a variety of pests need to be managed to maximize yields, fruit quality, and extend the life of your planting. Based on grower experience, besides Spotted Wing Drosophila which impact later ripening summer raspberries, growers should be concerned with:

• Phytophthora Root Rot
• Botrytis Fruit Rot (Grey Mold)
• Aphids • Yellow (Late or Fall) Rust
• Mites

Please review our Spring 2018 and other past newsletters on our website or contact your local cooperative extension office for specifics on possible controls.


Prune, Propagate Raspberries For Tidy Garden, Better Crop

It’s time to sharpen up the pruners and head to the raspberry patch for a bit of midsummer gardening.

Raspberries grow long stems (canes) that are biennial, meaning they produce foliage the first year, flowers and then fruit the second year. The second-year canes then die after the fruit is harvested.

The specific pruning technique for raspberries depends on which type you’re raising. Summer-bearing red and yellow raspberries should be pruned to remove all old fruiting canes completely down to the ground.

Everbearing raspberries produce a summer crop on the canes that fruited the previous fall. Remove these canes after the summer crop is harvested. Some growers prefer to sacrifice the summer crop for ease of spring care and to create a larger fall crop. In this case, no summer pruning is required all canes are mowed off in spring.

Black and purple raspberries benefit from two types of pruning technique. Like other raspberries, remove the fruiting canes after harvest is complete. Then tip-prune the top 3 to 4 inches of the new 1-year old canes to encourage more branching, which should result in more berries.

While you’re pruning, you’ll probably notice that your raspberry plants are propagating like bunny rabbits! Red raspberries tend to produce small plants growing nearby that come from the roots of the mother plant. These new plants are called suckers and can be divided from the mother plant with a sharp spade and replanted in the desired location (could be your neighbor’s yard!)

Black and purple raspberries often have canes that are so long the tips have bent over to the soil and may be forming new roots if the soil is moist. Covering the tips with 2 to 4 inches of soil will help encourage rooting. Next spring, the rooted tips can be severed from the mother plant with a sharp spade and replanted.

Keep in mind that older raspberry plantings may be infected with virus. Propagating from virus-infected plants will pass the virus on to the new planting. Check your plants for signs of disease (yellowing, spots, wilting) before propagating.


Watch the video: Garden VLOG. Pruning Raspberries. Farm Walkabout