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Here’s how to prune Raspberry plants – fix that overgrown neglected berry patch!
How to Prune Raspberry Plants
Earlier in June, I had given the raspberry patch a thorough weeding and clean up. Knowing how to prune raspberry plants is an important part of maintaining your berry bed.
If you don’t tidy up your patch in Spring, you will be amazed at how difficult it will be for you to get in there and pick berries later in the season.
It’s a really good plan to clean the raspberry bed again once Fall arrives. By this time, you can easily tell which shoots have had fruit on them this year.
Look at this first picture below:
How to Prune Raspberries
The Raspberries are inside the fence on the far right side. There are two years worth of Raspberry plants in there.
First there are the first year’s plants – these are the shoots that are a paler green. They had fruit on them earlier this year.
And there are this second year’s suckers that have grown. These are the darker green plants in the photo and are a result of planting the previous year.
Don’t pull all of these out as these are the shoots that will fruit next year.
Raspberries grow on last year’s plants. This is why it’s important to know how to prune raspberry plants.
If you cut down all the new canes, you will not have any fruit next year.
Once Berry season is over with for the year, get in the patch and cut all those paler green stems (the ones that gave you fruit this year).
Cut them down as close to the ground as you can. And use sharp garden pruning shears!
(And it’s important to keep your garden pruners clean and sharpened. Here’s how to do that!)
It goes without saying that you need to wear a long sleeved shirt and leather gloves for doing this.
I always have a long sleeved lightweight shirt hanging on a fence post or in the Greenhouse, so I can quickly grab it when needed.
Here’s the raspberry patch after those paler shoots from this year’s fruits have been cut down.
It’s starting to look better but the job isn’t done quite yet. There is still some thinning of the canes to be done.
Thinning and Cleaning the Raspberry Bed
Get in there and pull or dig out every single raspberry shoot that is not within the rows you had planned.
Raspberries are notorious for sending up new shoots and leaves willy nilly all over the berry patch.
If you don’t do thin the canes, you will again face the problem of battling your way through them in order to pick raspberries next year.
Imagine fighting your way through this mess to get at your berries! Picking Raspberries should be a relaxing homestead chore, not having to fight your way through a jungle and tangle of plants.
If you did a good job of cleaning up the Bed earlier this year, then it won’t take you long to pull out any shoots that grew in the last few months. Be ruthless when it comes to pulling shoots – you will always have lots of Raspberries from the current season’s growth.
Here’s the finished result – there’s a definite pathway, which will make it easier to amend the soil with some well composted manure or other organic fertilizer.
Come Spring when the new growth starts, you’ll more easily be able to get to the plants to pull out any extra suckers. Keep this up and Raspberry picking will be a delight, not torture.
When is the Best Time to Pick Raspberries?
The best flavor and texture is achieved when raspberries are harvested when it’s dry and cool. Pick a day when it’s clear and sunny or overcast, but wait until after midday and aim for a time when the temperature is falling.
Depending on the variety you plant, the time of year and amount of time elapsed before harvesting can vary. For primocane-bearing varieties, harvest can be expected within the year you plant them if you aim for late winter or early spring.
Other two-year varieties you can expect to harvest from the floricanes (the second year shoots) in the late summer or early fall of the following year, making raspberries ideal as a summer crop or a fall crop.
Just be aware that even summer-fruiting raspberries that do produce fruit in the first year may offer a more limited harvest, but the yield from the floricanes in the second year will be more plentiful. The average yield per plant should be about 1 to 2 quarts of berries.
This advice changes from type to type, as there are difference between varieties of red raspberries, purple raspberries, yellow raspberries, and black raspberries.
Some types are ready to harvest in June (summer-bearing raspberries), while others are better to wait until September (fall-bearing raspberries). Be sure you know the parameters of your chosen fruit!
What to do with the extra suckers? The best thing to do with them is add more rows if you have the room in your garden.
How to Use Home Grown Raspberries
Is there such a thing as too many Raspberries? I don’t think so – use them in Pies and Crisps. You’ll have lots to eat fresh or use in smoothies.
You could start making Raspberry Jam. Then, when you have enough Jam put away for the year, start making juice.
You can can the juice or freeze it. Still have more Raspberries coming? Think about making a small batch of Raspberry Wine.
A couple of years ago we did a Saskatoon Berry/Raspberry wine blended together.
We still think it is the best wine we have produced here in the Valley. We made an eBook out of the recipe and process.
When to Transplant Raspberries
If you’ve decided you do need more Raspberry plants, great. The best time to take care of this is in the Spring when you are cleaning the raspberry patch.
When you pull or dig out all those new shoots coming up in places you don’t want them, just move them to where you do want them.
How to Dig Up and Transplant Raspberry Shoots
Prepare the new bed with native soil and a good amount of well composted manure or other organic fertilizer. Dig through it thoroughly so the soil is light and airy. Transplant the pulled shoots directly into this bed.
Make sure you leave 3 feet or so between the rows – the more the better. If you don’t have a lot of extra room to give up for the new patch, you can plant them closer together.
Just know you will have to get in there and weed more often once the plants are established and sending up new shoots of their own.
Transplanting Raspberry Shoots
After preparing the new bed, it’s time to dig up the raspberry shoots for transplanting. I dig up any shoots I want to save for replanting elsewhere.
You can pull the plant out and it usually comes out with lots of root attached. So, dig or pull, whichever you feel like.
Raspberries are hardy plants, they will survive almost anything. Transplant them, firm up the soil around the new planting and then add some water.
Watering and Mulching Raspberries
Watering these new plants regularly is important. They will need extra water to settle in and start growing.
Add some old hay, straw or sawdust as a mulch to help keep the weeds down.
Next year, you will be glad you did this because you will be enjoying the fruits of your labor. Without so much work.
Raspberries are a wonderful inexpensive addition to your backyard – once you feel you have enough, then start giving away those extra shoots you pull.
Really, you should never have to pay for Raspberry plants, they are often shared among neighbours and friends who want to add them to their own gardens.
Raspberries are one of the easiest fruits to grow, once they are established. They offer quite a few health benefits such as improved immune systems, better vision, disease prevention and more.
And once you learn how to prune raspberry plants, it’s a simple matter of keeping your rows clear of new suckers!
The Bottom Line: Now that you know how to prune Raspberry plants, you can easily keep your berry bed productive and tidy.
Raspberries do take a bit of maintenance, but it won’t amount to more than an hour (and usually much less) when you do have to weed or move plants.
The rest of the time, just enjoy picking and eating them!
Read More About Planting and Growing Fruit
- Have you heard of Haskaps? Everything you need to know about how to grow Haskap berry bushes.
- Here’s a really easy no cook Strawberry Jam recipe – just store the jam in the freezer!
- Try your hand at making wine! Here’s our Saskatoon Raspberry wine ebook.
Want to find out which are The 5 Easiest Vegetables to Grow?
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Published Aug 2020, updated June 2022.