To obtain maximum yields, raspberries must be pruned properly.
Pruning produces higher yields by increasing berry size. It also helps control
diseases. Pruning procedures are based on the growth and fruiting
characteristics of the plants.
Raspberries are unique because their roots and crowns are perennial, while
their stems or canes are biennial. A raspberry plant may survive and produce
fruit for many years. However, individual canes live only two years and then
During the first growing season, the shoots of purple, black, and summer-bearing
red raspberries are strictly vegetative (non-fruiting). The following year,
these same canes flower, produce fruit, and then die.
Fall-bearing red raspberries naturally produce two crops. The first crop is
produced in late summer or early fall at the tips of the current season’s
growth. The following year, a summer crop is produced on the lower portions of
these same canes. After the second crop, the canes die.
Red raspberries produce new canes from buds located at the base of the previous
season’s growth and on their roots. Because red raspberries sucker freely, they
need to be confined to a 1- to 2-foot-wide hedgerow.
Black and purple raspberries produce new canes only from buds located at the
base of the existing canes. As a result, they tend to remain in their original
How to prune summer-bearing red raspberries
March or early April, remove all weak, diseased, and damaged canes at ground
level. Leave the most vigorous canes, those approximately Ľ inch in diameter
when measured 30 inches from the ground. When finished, remaining canes should
be spaced about 6 inches apart. Also, prune out the tips of the canes that have
died due to winter injury. Cut back to live tissue. Maintain plants in a 1- to
2-foot-wide hedgerow using a rototiller or spade.
After the last harvest of summer, prune off the old fruiting canes at the soil
surface. Remove the pruned material from the garden and destroy it.
How to prune fall-bearing red raspberries for two crops
In March or early April, remove all weak, diseased, and damaged canes
leaving only the most vigorous canes. Also prune out the tips of the canes. The
summer crop will be produced on the lateral (side) shoots of the remaining
portions of the canes. Maintain the plants in a 1- to 2-foot-wide hedgerow.
After the summer crop has been harvested, remove the old fruiting canes and
How to prune fall-bearing red raspberries for one crop
(Total crop yield is typically larger using the one-crop system instead of
the two-crop system.) In March or early April, prune all canes back to ground
level. This eliminates the summer crop, but the fall crop matures one to two
weeks earlier. Maintain the plants in a 1- to 2-foot-wide hedgerow. No summer
pruning is necessary.
How to prune yellow raspberries
A small number of yellow raspberry varieties are available. They are
identical to red raspberries except for the fruit color. Prune summer-bearing
and fall-bearing yellow raspberries as you would their red raspberry
How to prune black and purple raspberries
March or early April, remove all of the small, weak canes, leaving only four or
five of the largest, most vigorous canes per clump or plant. Cut back the
lateral branches to 12 inches in length for black raspberries and 18 inches for
Starting in late May or when the new growth reaches a height of 36 to 48 inches,
pinch out or cut off the shoot tips. Remove about 3 to 4 inches of the shoot
encourages lateral shoot development and increases the fruiting surface area,
resulting in higher yields. Since all the new shoots will not reach the desired
height at the same time, it will be necessary to go over the planting about once
each week from late May to late July. Shoot tip removal can be discontinued at
the end of July. Those canes that develop after July will be small, weak, and
unproductive and should be pruned out the following spring.
A note from Bemis Farms Nursery – Don’t forget to fertilize your
raspberries. An 8-8-8 fertilizer is a great slow-release solution. Apply at
Halloween and in the spring for best results.
Our thanks to Iowa State University Extension for putting together such a clear
and concise fact sheet.
For more information
Horticultural information on selection, planting, cultural practices, and
environmental quality is available from your local Iowa State University
Extension office and from these Web sites.
ISU Extension Publications— www.extension.iastate.edu/pubs
ISU Horticulture— www.yardandgarden.extension.iastate.edu
Reiman Gardens— www.reimangardens.iastate.edu
If you want to learn more about horticulture through training and volunteer
work, ask your ISU Extension office for information about the ISU Extension
Master Gardener program.
File: Hort and LA 2-3 Written by Richard Jauron, extension
horticulturist. Edited by Diane Nelson, extension communication specialist.
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30,
1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Stanley R.
Johnson, director, Cooperative Extension Service, Iowa State University of
Science and Technology, Ames, Iowa.
. . . and justice for all The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits
discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color,
national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual
orientation, and marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to
all programs.) Many materials can be made available in alternative formats for
ADA clients. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Office of Civil
Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 14th and Independence Avenue, SW,
Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call 202-720-5964. RG 501 Revised January 2005