Raspberries grow vigorously, producing baskets of flavorful fruits year after year. However, you’re not making the most out of your home-grown raspberries if you haven’t been pruning the bush yet. Make pruning an annual practice so you can have a bumper harvest that beats your neighbor’s garden each time!
So is trimming really necessary? What happens if you don’t prune raspberries? And if it’s really so important, when’s the best time to do it, and how? You’ll have all your questions answered in just a little bit so read on!
Why Do Raspberries Need Pruning?
Reluctant to spend those ten minutes of pruning a year? The little time you spend trimming the branches off your raspberry bush once a year pays off with better-tasting and more plentiful harvests. It improves the plants’ health so they can bloom with full vigor and deliver the harvest you’ve been hoping for.
During the first year of development, you’ll only see foliage on your raspberry bush. Flowering and fruiting won’t occur until the next year. It only makes sense to get rid of the old, dying canes to maximize your raspberry harvest in the coming season. It won’t just increase the size of the yield. You can also look forward to bigger and juicier berries after a good pruning!
What Happens If You Don’t Prune Raspberries?
So what happens if you don’t prune raspberries? Raspberries are their own enemies if you leave them unkempt. Overcrowded canes compete for nutrients, water, and sunlight and won’t be able to grow to their maximum potential.
The shaded branches and buds on the lower parts of the plants won’t receive optimal sunlight and wilt. With more blossom drops, you won’t be receiving as many fruits as you could have with proper pruning. The fruits that do manage to survive among the unsuitable conditions will be hard to pick in the dense thicket.
Also, with canes growing close to one another, air circulation between them will be seriously hampered. Moist, shady environment harbors many diseases, such as anthracnose and gray mold.
Save yourself the trouble and maximize the harvest with yearly pruning. It will all be worth it when you see the phenomenal results.
Know Your Raspberry: When To Prune Each Kind?
Different types of raspberries are grown in home gardens. They differ in their requirements. The correct pruning time for raspberries varies with the variety you are growing. Besides the usual red raspberries, you’ll also find them in golden, purple, and black colors.
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No matter what the color of the raspberries growing in your backyard, they’ll fall into two major categories:
- One-crop, summer-bearing raspberries
These varieties bear fruits on the previous season’s growth (or floricanes). The canes can be pruned right after you’ve harvested the berries in summers, and then again after the last frost in spring before the new growth begins to appear.
- Two-crop everbearing raspberries
Everbearing raspberries produce two harvests, both in summer and in fall. Prune them back after each harvest.
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How To Prune Your Raspberry Bush?
Different raspberry varieties are pruned differently, just like the variations in their pruning schedule.
Red raspberries can be one-crop or two-crop, depending on the variety. Golden (or yellow) raspberries give two crops per year, while the black and purple varieties are one-crop.
Pruning Summer-Bearing Raspberries
Since you know what happens if you don’t prune raspberries, better avoid the problem in the first place by pruning them right. For the one-crop summer bearing raspberries, including all black and purple varieties and some red raspberry varieties, cut back the canes once you’ve harvested all the fruit.
Once the harvest is over, cut the old canes (the ones you have harvested) to the ground. Only leave the new growth that has appeared during summertime and support them using horizontal wires or vertical posts. These new growths will develop to be harvested the next year.
You can prune them again after the last frost in spring, removing the weakest canes to maintain a distance of 6 inches between the healthy ones.
Pruning Everbearing Raspberries
Everbearing raspberries will produce a heavy crop on the tips of the new canes in fall for the first harvest. They’ll fruit again, but this time on the lower part of the same canes during summer for a smaller harvest.
Once you’ve harvested the fall crop, cut the top one-third of the canes that have already borne fruit. It’s easy to distinguish them from the lower parts of the canes since they’ll appear dead and dry. Cut the tips, and leave the lower, greener portion of the canes.
The lower portions of the canes will continue producing for the summer crop. You can cut them back to 45 inches from the ground once you’ve picked the summer berries. Once the lower portion has given their second crop the following summers, cut them back to ground level and stake the new canes for the upcoming fall harvest.
You can also train your everbearing raspberry bush for a single fall harvest. Gardeners who aim for a single, bigger, and better crop cut all the canes to the ground after the fall harvest. With this method, you’ll only be getting one harvest out of your two-crop everbearing raspberries.
Pruning may sound tiring, especially if you haven’t done it before, but it will hardly take you minutes. You already know what happens if you don’t prune raspberries. Know the kind of raspberries you are growing and the kind of care they require from you.
Keep your bush healthy by proper pruning so the harvest won’t suffer. With a little effort and time, you can reap multiple delicious harvests out of your raspberry plants. Now that you know how to grow raspberries check out my other articles including how to make raspberry jam!