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Marie Iannotti

Do Raspberries Care When They're Pruned?

By November 18, 2012

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A reader wanted to know if pruning their raspberry plants now, rather than waiting until late winter, would have any effect on the amount of raspberries the plants produce. I've always heard that leaving the canes in tact helps the plants make it through winter, although I'm not entirely sure why. We'd love to hear from other raspberry growers, about when you do your pruning. Do any of you cut your raspberries back at the end of the season and have you noticed any differences or problems?

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November 5, 2009 at 2:16 pm
(1) AdventurousC says:

I always prune my raspberries in the early to mid fall and have bumper crops of berries. I do cover the base of the plants that are left with leaves for winter protection though. I just wait to prune until the stalks that produced this year are really woody and basically dead before I go a-cutting.

November 5, 2009 at 2:27 pm
(2) Marie Iannotti says:

I forgot to ask that you include what area you’re gardening in.

Since AdventurousC is mulching for winter protection and your canes are woody and dry by mid-fall, I’m guessing you’re in a cold climate and haven’t seen any ill effects of fall pruning. Good to know.

November 5, 2009 at 2:48 pm
(3) LSB says:

I live in Zone 4, and had always cut back the raspberries in the mid to late fall. I cut almost to the ground leaving just a few inches of stems remaining. Every spring there are dozens of new shoots, and they all produce an abundance of berries throughout the summer.

The best thing with Raspberries at least with my experience, is not to baby them. Just water them once a day. Put them in a hot and sunny location with little to no shade. Trim them all the way to the ground in the fall, otherwise leave them alone.

I started with 5 bare root almost dead plants, I ended up with over 100 in just 4 years.

November 6, 2009 at 3:56 pm
(4) Allison says:

I cut back my august/september bearing raspberries in the fall and they are fine. They are super-hardy, a weed actually, and grow back no matter what you do to them! Oh, I live in zone 7.

November 19, 2009 at 12:15 am
(5) Moldo Zok says:

I prune many Blackberries and Raspberries (somewhat rare) in the late Autumn around Thanksgiving if all my clients leaves are cleaned. I cut them down, not even gently, to about 4 to 6″. Most of the canes by then, here on the high plains, are hollow. I prune them down because they look bad. I really believe that if you just leave them, all would be well. In my experience very few canes are viable in the spring anyway, so, for my clients it is more of an appeareance issue. The plants do produce well season after season, hey, they sucker all over the place anyway….mz

November 19, 2009 at 10:52 am
(6) Marie Iannotti says:

“I cut them down, not even gently…” I love it!

Well, the so called experts all say to wait until early spring, but I always listen to the folks who are actually doing the pruning. You’re the experts I trust and you all seem to agree that pruning brambles in the fall won’t stop them from thriving. Yea! The more I can get done in the fall, the more I enjoy the spring.

November 9, 2010 at 3:17 pm
(7) John Engerson says:

I just started growing raspberries now for the last two years. I started with 12 plants and now have about 30.I have not pruned the yet and have no idea on how to do this. Can anyone help me? I live in mid Michigan, and have the plants in two rows 8 ft apart and about 40 ft. long.I have put steel pools on both ends of the row,and I am getting ready to 2 lines of wire on the 2 rows.

Thank You

November 9, 2010 at 4:16 pm
(8) gardening says:

John, there are 2 main reasons for pruning raspberries: to keep them bearing and to keep them in bounds. First, prune all canes that bore fruit last year, because they won’t fruit again. These will have grayish, peeling bark.

And it sounds like you’ve let all the new bottom growth continue to grow. To keep the rows manageable, you usually remove any canes that outside of a 12 – 18 inch row footprint.

You might also want to check out either the article pruning raspberries or the video.

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