Berries and Brambles: Raspberry Management and Pruning

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Now that you've decided on the type of raspberry you are going to grow, you'll need to address the plant's needs through management. Raspberry plants benefit from mulching around the plants. This should be no thicker than 2 inches to avoid rodents. The mulch can help with weed control and keeping water in the soil. Raspberry plants should have frequent, shallow irrigation of 1-1/2 inches every 7-10 days. Having a rain gauge nearby can determine if your plants are getting the water they need or if you will need to irrigate further.

Raspberry plants need to be pruned. There isn't any way of getting around it. By pruning, your plants will be more robust, address disease/insect issues, and potentially help you with yield. Pruning depends on the type of raspberry whether red, yellow, black, or purple. Yellow and red are pruned quite similar while black and purple are pruned differently. You'll either prune after harvest or in the dormant period of winter. There still is some time to prune these plants although you need to do this soon.

Summer pruning can occur for yellow/red immediately after harvest by removing the floricanes that fruited. This allows for future improved production and primocanes to spread out.

Red/yellow can be mowed. There are two options. The first is an alternate year mowing where all are mowed in the fall. It reduces your costs for pruning but can reduce fruit quality and yield. The second option is alternate year mowing but suppressing the primocanes. Suppression of the primocanes is when you cut the primocanes initial growth but then allow for it to grow after that.

Black and purple raspberries can be summer pruned after harvest where they are mowed to ground level. In the spring, you'll pinch back to promote lateral buds. The dormant pruning option is to keep 4-5 sturdy canes per plant but remove others. You'll cut back side branches and secure with a trellis system.

All of your pruning options have advantages and disadvantages. Time and yield can be the overall reasons to prune one way over the other. The guides available through Extension can help you gain a better grasp on what these pruning methods look like.