Pruning raspberry bushes is a key step towards achieving a healthy and productive plant. Pruning not only reduces the plant height but also controls the harvest. Conversely, without this crucial step, harvests would progressively decrease over time. Moreover, unpruned raspberry bushes could eventually take over your garden.
When and How to Prune Raspberry Bushes
Pruning is best practiced before winter settles in. It involves cutting the fruiting shoots back to the base and burning them. Although this activity can be carried out until March, it's better to get it done sooner rather than later. Raspberry bushes that fruited late in the season should ideally be pruned in February. Then, in spring, remember to remove all frostbitten and diseased shoots. Note however to be careful not to cut branches with blossoming flowers.
Specific Pruning Strategies for Different Raspberry Bushes
Pruning isn't a one-size-fits-all operation as different types of raspberry bushes require different approaches. The two main types of raspberry bushes are mid-summer fruiting and late-summer fruiting, each of which requires unique pruning times. Raspberry bushes can further be classified as remontant (everbearing) or non-remontant (summer bearing). Remontant bushes typically grow over 2 meters tall and are pruned in the autumn, immediately after fruiting. Non-remontant bushes are shorter and therefore their pruning is done in winter where you should leave about 10-12 canes per square meter. After fruiting, it would be wise to cut canes that have begun to dry up.
The Aftermath of Harvest
After harvest, it's advisable to prune raspberry bushes. Fruiting shoots should be cut back to the base and burned, an action that shouldn't be delayed as it prevents the growth of new shoots. You have two options for pruning: cut to the ground without leaving stumps or adopt the double-pruning approach. The latter involves keeping 6-8 of the strongest canes and cutting the rest to the ground.
Pruning Strategies for the First and Second Years
During the first year, cut shoots back to 25-30 cm. If the plants are diseased, your best bet would be to cut shoots to the ground. In the second year, aim to leave three or four young shoots to bear fruit in the following season. Thinning out and shortening branches is an effective way to enhance fruiting. It's also recommended to cut all weak, diseased, and broken shoots. Sometimes, shoots become too thick at the base, hindering root ventilation, so don't hesitate to remove such shoots. If you wish to grow new plants, dig up shoots and transplant them. Afterward, prune these new plants to 15-20 cm from the ground to facilitate new raspberry bush formation.