Friday, July 18, 2008

Pruning Raspberries

Raspberries are a sweet garden delight that always seem to be gone too soon. Here is some information on pruning raspberries to maximize your harvest.

Raspberry roots are perennial, but their canes (or stems) all have two-year lifecycles. Canes of some varieties produce all their fruit in the second year (these are called summer-bearing). Other varieties bear some fruit on the top third of the cane during the fall of the first year, then on the bottom two thirds in the summer of their second year (called everbearing or fall-bearing). Let new canes grow each year, eventually establishing a cycle where some canes are in their first year, and others are in their second year.

Varieties of raspberries come in four basic colors: red, yellow, purple or black. All purple and black raspberries are summer-bearing. Black raspberries are very susceptible to disease, and are not commonly grown.

Red is the most familiar color, and yellow raspberries are actually cultivated mutations of the red variety. Red or yellow raspberries may be summer-bearing or everbearing. Tulameen, Willamette, and Meeker are typical summer bearing reds. Some everbearing reds are Heritage, Autumn Bliss, and Summit. Everbearing yellows include Fall Gold and Golden Summit.

When everbearing canes lose their leaves in the fall of the first year, cut back just the top third where the canes bore fruit. In the fall of their second year, prune everbearing canes all the way to the ground. Remove any weak first-year canes, and thin the remaining first-year canes to about 6-8 inches apart. Many people feel the fall crop is less tasty than the summer crop.

After summer-bearing canes drop their leaves in the fall of their second year, prune them all the way to the ground and thin as described above. Purple and back raspberries should also be topped to about 2-3 feet during their first year to encourage branching.

When you followed every year, these pruning methods will help ensure you get the most enjoyment out of your raspberries.

Copyright © 2005 Brian Ballard. All rights reserved.

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