University of Illinois Extension

Pruning Tips for Raspberries

Winter’s dormant season provides the best opportunity to prune raspberries, says a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator.

“Pruning is based on the growth and fruiting characteristics of different types of raspberries,” says Maurice Ogutu. “Raspberry roots and crowns are perennial while the canes are biennial.”

Ogutu suggests the following guidelines.

There are two types of red raspberries--summer-bearing and fall-bearing raspberries.

“For the summer-bearing red raspberries, remove the fruiting canes during the summer at ground level after harvest to prevent build-up of disease and to provide more space for primocanes to grow,” he says. “During late-winter or early spring before bud break, remove all weak, diseased, and damaged canes at ground level, and leave the most vigorous canes that are about one-fourth inch in diameter and 30 inches tall.

“The canes need to be six-to-seven inches apart. Prune tips of selected canes that died due to winter injury. The plants need to be in a one-to-two feet wide hedgerow.”

For the fall-bearing red and yellow raspberries, during the summer after harvest remove the fruiting cane at ground level. During late winter or early spring before the buds swell, remove all weak, diseased and damaged canes at ground level and leave only vigorous canes that are one-fourth inch in diameter and 30 inches tall. Remove the upper portion of the cane that had fruit in the fall--only if a summer crop is needed. The selected canes need to be six-to-seven inches apart in a one-to-two feet wide hedgerow.

Black and purple raspberries also need pruning.

“In the early summer, remove the top three inches of the canes with 18 to 20 inches long to encourage lateral branching,” says Ogutu. “After harvest, remove old fruiting canes at the soil line to control build-up of diseases and provide more space for the one-year-old canes to grow.

“In the spring, remove dead, weak, and spindly canes. Shorten selected canes to eight-to-12 inches long. The canes need to be six-to-seven inches apart in a one-to-two feet wide hedgerow.”