Fall Pruning of Raspberries

I love raspberries. And lucky for me we can grow great raspberries in east Idaho. But one of the problems we sometimes encounter is from heavy snow. A row or two of raspberries acts like a snow fence and captures all the snow the wind brings in. Then in the spring when things begin to thaw the drifted snow settles and can break down the canes of the berries laying them flat.

One way to help prevent this is to prune your raspberries in the fall. For July bearers like Canby that can be done any time now. Some wait until the leaves have fallen, but there is no need to. Sometimes I don’t get it done until spring, but then I run the risk of having them get laid down with the snow.

My Canby raspberry canes after final pruning.

You’ll want to remove all the canes that bore fruit this year. Leave most of the new canes that came up this year for next year.’s crop. But you will want to remove any that are coming up “out of bounds”. Then I prune what remains down to about 4 feet in height. Some people prune them lower, but that height seems to work well for me.

If you have everbearing raspberries like Caroline or Heritage your pruning regimen is altered drastically. Everbearers bear twice a year. The new canes that come up each year bear that fall. Then they will bear again the following July. But for convenience most people wait until the harvest is done in October and then they cut them completely to the ground. By doing this you sacrifice the summer crop, but it takes all the headache out of pruning. You just cut them all off at the ground every year.

The T-Trellis is a popular way to keep raspberries upright in areas of heavy winter snows.

You can also support your raspberries with tall stakes or, ideally, with a two wire trellis. The wires of the trellis are usually placed about one foot below the height at which the canes have been pruned. The wires are placed on each side of the post with large staples or nails. Sometimes crosspieces are nailed to the posts so that the two wires are 1 to 3 feet apart. A second set of wires is sometimes placed a few feet below the top wires. The canes can be tied to the top set of wires if needed. Certain varieties may need no support at all. You will know from experience if yours need this support. I find with my Canby and Caroline in Idaho Falls I don’t need to support them with wires if I get them pruned in the fall.

14 Replies to “Fall Pruning of Raspberries”

  1. John –

    LOVE your newsletter, even though we’re coping with silty loam in our yard here in Washington, and gardening has a whole set of problems quite different from Shelley!

    My question: We have a great raspberry patch, but it’s in dire need of being contained. When I prune back this year’s bearing canes, how can I tell which ones they are?

    Thanks, and best wishes to you and your family –

    Trish

    1. That’s a great question, Trish. That is one downside to pruning in the fall, it’s not quite as obvious. But if you look closely you will notice that the old canes will be more gray and appear drier with more flaky bark. This will become more noticeable by spring. You can also just look and see which ones have the little “cone” remains from where you picked the berries.

    1. We used to use bird netting, and while it worked pretty well it was a hassle. We quit using it and found that the birds didn’t really get that many, so we let them have their “fair share” now. At our garden center we sell reflective tape that you hang as stringers that also works pretty well. I’ve heard of people using pie tins on a string, silver Christmas garland, and anything else that might keep the birds nervous enough to go elsewhere for their meals.

  2. I’m new to growing raspberries so I have a few questions about pruning. The canes that I pruned last year died off and all of my plants came up from the root this year. Do I prune all of these new canes back now? I don’t even know what kind of plants I have. They do not have thorns. They produce fairly large berries, however I didn’t get any berries this year from the winter kill. How do I avoid the berries dying in the winter?

    1. In east Idaho we had an unusual amount of winter kill last year. I’m not entirely sure why. Winterkill is generally not a problem so you shouldn’t need to do anything to prevent it. If your berries are thornless they are likely Canby, a good variety for east Idaho. For now, just prune the new canes that came up this year down to about 4 feet or so. They should produce well for you next year.

  3. Can I still spray weeds or is it too late since it frosted for the last several days

    Can I pant bubls now or do I wait a few more weeks? how does that work here in Idaho like tulips, daffodils and what about Lilly of the Valley Where in my yard can I plant it. I don’t have much shade. I love the flower and the smell
    Thanks. Also love the newsletter

    1. The weather they are predicting later this week with highs in the 60’s and lows in the 40’s is perfect for spraying Weed Free Zone for broadleaf weeds.
      Tulips and daffodils can be planted any time now. No need to wait. Lily of the Valley are usually planted in the spring. They can be moved and divided now, but they really do need a pretty shady spot. 🙁

  4. I am hoping you will continue to have the grafted cucumber plants. We so enjoyed having one this summer planted in a pot on our deck where we could watch the tiny cucumbers grow larger by the day and were so plentiful. We plan to buy more next summer as they had such a good flavor. We have told so many people about our success with the plant and how much we enjoyed them so we definitely hope you carry them next spring!!!! Thanks for trying something new – at least they were to us! Also, we were given a tiny tomato plant our neighbor gave to us that he started from seed. It was called “Polar Beauty”. We planted it in a pot on our deck and it was early, very prolific, with very good flavor, with a nice touch of sweetness and meaty and moderate in size. Any chance you might carry the seeds or better yet, the plant? We have so enjoyed shopping at your store for many years.

    Thank you, Dorothy Jeffries

    1. I am so happy to hear of your success with the grafted cucumber. I had similar success with a grafted cantaloupe in my own garden. We will definitely carry grafted cucumbers, melons, and tomatoes again next year. And we will look into the Polar Beauty tomato as well.

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