Sunday, December 25, 2016

How To Prune Raspberries

Pruning Raspberries

David Handley, a vegetable and fruit specialist from the University of Maine, instructs us in this informative video on how to prune raspberries.

The reason you prune the raspberries is because if you don't thin them out they will shade the center and you will have fruit rot, disease and other issues.

The proper time to prune raspberries is any time after they go dormant (Nov - March)

The WV extension calendar suggests pruning the canes that have fruited on July 12th (2016) However, Mr Handley states that the reason he waits until they are dormant is because the older canes that are dying are sending sugars, nutrients and carbohydrates back to the root system which will help next years canes get through the winter.

Pruning Raspberries: Suggested Tools

Thick gloves, Loppers and safety glasses.

When setting out to prune the raspberries you are looking to accomplish 3 things:

  1. Narrow Up The Row: 1-1/2 to 2 feet is a good width. You will notice that each year the rows tend to get wider.
  2. Get Rid Of Fruiting Canes: (AKA Floricanes) These the the canes that fruited this past season. these canes are dead and are only getting in the way and taking up space.
  3. Thin The Remaining Canes: Allow 3-4 cans per linear foot. This will look very thin when you're finished pruning.

There are 3 types of canes you will be dealing with:

  1. Spent: These are the floricanes, they will have gray peeling bark and little branches which were the old fruiting laterals. If you were to break them the inside is brown in color. No green tissue.
  2. Weak Spindly Canes: These are very thin, to short to reach the trellis. These will not produce good fruit.
  3. Nice Thick Fruiting Canes: If you were to pull back the bark on these canes, you will see that it has green tissue on the inside. Instead of lateral branches, you will see buds. In the spring, these buds will break and give you fruit shoots for next years crop. Make sure these canes have the height to reach the trellis wire and that you chose the canes with the thickest stems.
  • Cut the canes at the base.
  • After you cut the canes, remove them from the row to prevent disease.


  • Wires should be at about 4 ft high and spread to about 3 1/2 foot in width positioned on both sides of the row.
  • To attach the canes you can use things you may have on hand like twist ties leftover from bread, rubber bands, strips cut from nylon pantyhose, tomato clips, j-hooks. You may also want to consider using baling twine or cotton string, cut into lengths of 8"-10". Because these are biodegradable, when you are finished pruning you don't have to worry about picking them up when they fall to the ground.
  • As you tie the canes to the trellis, it will give you a v-shaped row. This will ensure that your plants get plenty of light and air movement. This also puts all your fruiting canes on the outside and the following years canes will shoot up in the center.
  • If you have a huge berry patch, you may want to consider using Tapeners as they are fast & efficient. The only draw back is that they leave behind plastic pieces you may have to pick up after pruning.
Below is a video showing you how the Max Tapener Hand Tying Machine works and can save you a lot of time.

Get The Max Taperner

Below is the pruning raspberries youtube video that I outlined above.

Feature Image courtesy of adamr at

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