So every time I open up my pruning book to the raspberry page, I get deep unhappy furrows in my brow. Raspberries are a simple plant. Why do they have to make it so complicated?
There’s the summer-fruiting kind (with a short fruiting season), which fruit best on one year old wood. Ideally with these, you should prune out the canes that have fruited right after they finish (late summer/early fall) and leave the current year’s canes (the brand new fleshy green ones) to fruit the following year.
Then there are autumn-fruiting raspberries (with a longer fruiting season) , which fruit on the current season’s growth. You aren’t supposed to prune out the fruited canes right away like with the summer-fruiting ones. Instead you cut every cane down in late winter when the plants are fully dormant, and allow all new canes to come up in spring.
The problem is, most people have no clue which type they have.
So I was pleased to read recently that there’s a simple rule that works for both varieties: In winter, just remove any canes that gave you fruit, and you are good to go. The stems that once held fruit will still be clinging to the canes, making it easy to tell.
If the vast majority of canes fruited last year, it’s likely you have an autumn-bearing variety. Don’t be alarmed if you basically cut the lot of it to the ground.
If only some of them fruited last year and the rest of the canes seem green and fresh, it’s likely you have a summer-bearer. Either way? The simpler rule of pruning works fine.
Hope that helps you feel confident to get out there and prune your raspberries!
(By the way, the same rule is good for Boysenberries, Blackberries, and Loganberries, which all fruit on one-year old canes – just prune out the canes that fruited for you, and tie the fresh new ones to your trellis! Simple, right?)