Pruning is an important part of the growing process that helps your brambles prosper and maximize productivity. Bramble roots live for many years, however, the shoots that grow from the roots live only up to two years. Removing old and weak shoots will encourage the growth of larger berries.
Red and Yellow Raspberries
- Joan J*
- Double Gold*
For fall production only, prune or mow all the canes to the ground in late winter/early spring, this is especially beneficial in colder areas. Be sure to cut the canes as closely as possible to the soil surface, leaving little or no stub above the ground. New, strong canes that emerge in the spring will bear an abundant fall crop.
To develop two crops, the planting must be pruned as summer-bearing varieties. When allowed to stand through winter, a second crop is produced early the following summer, lower on those over-wintered canes. After harvesting the summer crop, cut the over-wintered canes to the ground, leaving the new primocanes to produce the fall crop.
These varieties carry one crop of berries during the summer on over-wintered canes. For the best yields, immediately after harvest, cut the canes that carried fruit as close to the ground as possible. Thin remaining new growth to six to eight strong, healthy canes per running foot of row. In late fall, cut canes down to four-and-a-half to five feet to manage the picking height.
Tipping or tip pruning is highly recommended for primocane-bearing black raspberries. As the new primocanes reach three feet, pinch or cut the tips to force branches to develop. Tipping will delay, but prolong the harvest, increase yield, and reduce arching of the canes and tip rooting. Pruning later in the season decreases the amount of time the plant will have to develop branches. Leaving the primocanes unpruned will allow earlier ripening than the tip-pruning option, but the canes will become tall and arching and will develop fewer berries.
Black and Purple Raspberries
- Bristol Black
- Jewel Black
- Mac Black
- Royalty Purple
Black and Purple raspberries break buds from their crown or base and send out few, if any, suckers. Prune plants to four to six canes per hill. These plants respond well to a process called tipping, whereby the first-year canes, primocanes, are pinched back (remove about two inches) as they reach a height of five to six feet through July and August. This practice encourages fruiting lateral branches to break from the main cane and keeps plant height in check. Laterals should be pruned to six to eight inches in the late fall. Pinching back laterals can help increase berry size and increase winter hardiness. For best yields, immediately after harvest cut the canes that carried fruit as close to the ground as possible.
- Prime-Ark 45*
- Prime-Ark Freedom*
Primocane blackberries respond very favorably to tipping. As the primocanes reach 12–15 inches in height, break or cut ¾–1 inch off the tip to force the cane into branching. Second tipping should be performed as the lateral branches reach 30 inches, again breaking or cutting ¾–1 inch off the tips. The tips are tender and may be pinched between your thumbnail and a finger or use pruning shears. This process stimulates earlier fruit development, increases yield, and keeps plant height in check for easier management and harvest.
- Sweet Ark Ponca
- Triple Crown
Tip first-year canes when they reach five to six feet in height in midsummer or six inches over the top wire. Tipping stops terminal growth and establishes fruiting laterals. Thin the remaining canes (primocanes) to six to eight canes per running yard of row or per hill. Laterals should be cut back to six to eight inches in late fall. Fruiting canes should be cut to the ground as soon as possible after harvest has been completed. Primocanes overwinter and develop fruit the following season.
* Denotes double-crop
Pictured are Jewel black raspberry plants pruned and tipped.
Pictured are pruned raspberries.
Old canes should be cut as close to the ground as possible to force new buds to break below the soil surface. Cane stubs above ground can be entry sites for insects and disease pathogens.
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