How To Prune Raspberries
How to prune raspberries: Let’s get right to it and get your raspberries ready to rock with loads of juicy, red, and ripe berries.
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First, a word about the star of this blog – the berries. Before we get out the pruning shears and start cutting and trimming it’s essential to understand the growth cycle of the plant.
Starting from the bottom up. The roots and crowns are perennial (live for many years). They love to spread into other areas of my garden. It is a challenge to keep them from taking over the neighboring real estate of the potato patch.
To keep your plants from getting unruly during the growing season, remove any new canes (the stocks) that emerge outside the ideal row width of about 2 feet. However, don’t touch the new green shoots growing within the ideal row width. You can cut these rogue canes out or pull them out. You can also dig them out and give them to a friend who has been admiring your raspberry patch.
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. Resist the urge to cut out any dead looking canes. These canes send nutrition to the roots and crowns which help them survive dormancy. It’s not until the end of winter, or early spring that you cut out the old dead spent canes.
In their second year, the canes are called floricanes. The previous year’s buds grow into fruiting branches and bear a more abundant summer crop. As their berries ripen, the leaves on the floricanes will start to turn red or yellow, and these canes die as winter approaches.
How to prune raspberries: The first step of the late-winter/early spring pruning process is to remove all of last year’s dead floricanes. They have a whitish bark that is pealing. By removing these dead canes, you prevent disease spores that may have overwintered on them from spreading to new canes. Cut all of these dead canes right to the ground. Now is also an excellent time to remove any canes that are damaged or spindly looking.
How to prune raspberries that are everbearing: If you have a summer or non everbearing variety, your pruning is done.
If you have an everbearing variety, you will need to prune off the part of the cane that bore fruit last fall. The canes bear fruit starting at the top of the cane in the fall of the first year. The fruiting buds on the lower part of the cane remain dormant until the second year. Remove last year’s fruiting wood in the early spring.
The final step to keeping your berries happy and healthy is giving them some good organic food. I keep them well mulched by adding about 2 inches of wood chips to them once a year. Don’t work the wood chips into the soil. The wood chips will naturally rot down, and by adding a couple of inches of chips to the top every year, you will provide the berries with an endless source of organic fertilizer. Also, you won’t have to weed the berries.
I can’t wait to fill my kitchen with the sweet scent of a big kettle of raspberry jam on the stove.
Once my berries are ripe we will make a batch of fabulous raspberry jam as well as other raspberry inspired treats.
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