March-May: Prune your Raspberries Now, for a Strong Crop This Summer

Late winter to Early Spring is usually the time of choice to prune your cane forming berries. Many varieties of Raspberries and Blackberries will produce growth in the form of canes that develop over two years. Primocanes are the first year’s worth of growth. Primocanes are green and fleshy and do not usually* produce fruit. Primocanes develop brown bark and overwinter. During the second growing year, these canes are now called floricanes. They are woody and brown and will develop the buds and flowers and eventually the berries. After the second year of growth, the cane will no longer be productive.

We suggest maintaining a trellis system for your brambles because then you can have a system for identifying the primocane from the floricane. You don’t want to make the mistake of pruning away all your floricanes, then you will never get berries! There are several good solutions for trellising raspberries of blackberries. Ultimately the system needs to 1) identify primocanes from floricanes and 2) make maintaining your plants easier! A two-line system works well to achieve these simple goals.
*Some newer varieties fruit on primocanes and will fruit each fall. Cut all canes back in late winter


June-bearing red raspberries will grow naturally in a hedgerow system, as figure 7.1 illustrates

If you are starting to regain control of an existing bramble patch, this may require a little work the first season

  1. Start by identifying and pruning out any obviously dead canes. This will remove dead wood which can harbor disease.
  2. Thin your row of canes to about 4-5canes per linear foot, prune out any that fall outside of a row width of 12-18” Fig 7.1 This will improve air and light penetration, reduce disease and promote ripening
  3. Thin your row of canes to about 4-5canes per linear foot, prune out any that fall outside of a row width of 12-18” Fig 7.1 This will improve air and light penetration, reduce disease and promote ripening
  4. Next, tie the remaining canes to the trellis line, forming a “V” shaped row of canes on either side.
  5. Monitor these canes for buds, lateral stems and fruit leading up to the summer crop.
  6. Allow new primocanes to grow vertically up through the center of the “V” during the growing season. They will be tied to a trellis the following season.
  7. After floricanes finish fruiting, prune them back
    to the ground. Remove all pruning debris from the area to prevent disease

Excerpted from Penn State Extension Publication: Pruning Brambles in Home Fruit Plantings. For more information:
https://extension.psu.edu/pruningbrambles-in-home-fruit-plantings