Pruning My Raspberries

Dateline: 21 October 2016
(click on pictures to see larger views)

Before Pruning

I have two 36-foot rows of red raspberries on the edge of my garden. They have been there for a lot of years, and every year, usually in October, I prune the rows. The picture above shows the vegetative chaos that I encountered at pruning time this year. It is typical.

And here is what those same two rows in the picture look like after I pruned them a few days ago...

After Pruning
Here is a close-up view of the rows...

I have removed the old canes that bore fruit earlier this year, and I've cut out a great amount of the new canes that grew up this year. The remaining canes will bear fruit next year. 

I selected and kept the largest canes and canes that were growing closer to the center of the row. They are tied to the center support bar that runs down the row, and the tops of extra-tall canes were snipped off at a little under 5-ft high.

Here's a picture that shows how I have tied each cane to the center support...

This cane-trellising system has worked for me for a long time. But I do NOT recommend it as the ideal for trellising raspberries in a home garden.

Instead, I recommend "bush-planting" of raspberries, using a center T-post stake to tie off the bramble canes. The technique of stake-trellising was introduced to me by E.P. Roe, the famous berryman of the 1800's. 

Having grown and trellised brambles along a row-trellis for so many years, I was immediately struck with the greater logic and simplicity of E.P. Roe's stake-trellising technique when I first read about it. In essence, you end up with individual raspberry "bushes" instead of a continuous row.

Every year I think to myself that I want to plant some new and different varieties of raspberries, but it just doesn't get done. Maybe next spring I'll finally get to it. And I will be using E.P. Roe's stake-trellising idea.

If you have a copy of my Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners, I explain E.P. Roe's stake-trellising idea on pages 23 and 24.


  1. When you do get around to planting more raspberry varieties, make sure you plant some of the Anne yellow fall raspberries - you will be so glad you did. They are so very, very good you will be kicking yourself for not doing it decades sooner! They produce huge berries - bigger than the end joint of my thumb (and I wear men's XXL gloves!). The taste is luscious...raspberry but richer and mellow. They bear all fall, right until a freeze...raspberries in October are an awesome wonder. They can also be pruned to give you a summer crop of the previous year's fruiting canes - you just prune off the bearing part of this year's fruiting canes and you will get a crop next summer on the remaining lower part of the canes. I do this with half my canes every year, because you truly cannot get enough of this wonderful berry. This weekend is family/friends cider pressing party...have already had three children ask if they get to pick those yellow berries again this year! A handful of yellow raspberries then a sip of cider...surrounded by family and friends, teaching the little ones about God's just doesn't get much better.
    Jewel black raspberries are another "must-have". I wouldn't be without them! Huge, richly flavored berries. And while a bowl of red raspberries is wonderful, a bowl with red, yellow and black is ever so much better!!!

    1. What a great comment. You've sold me on the idea of planting some Anne raspberries next spring. I see that they are available from several sources, including Nourse Farms, which I've bought from in the past. Thank you!

    2. If you have more patience than money, you can just buy one Anne plant...and in 5-6 years that one plant will make...oh, say at least 500+ more (hehe). Far more prolific than the red fall Caroline raspberry...the Anne has made literally hundreds of new plants while Caroline has only made about 10. Do need to find a really good summer red raspberry. The one I got is quite lackluster, can't even remember its name without looking at the charts.

  2. Elizabeth L. Johnson said,
    Wow, PlantLady!! Your "comment" was uplifting; it made me feel so you're blessing the Lord, and showing your thankfulness (it's almost Thanksgiving)! Aw. But our thankfulness to Him is every day, isn't it?

    Herrick, I grow boysenberries, not raspberries. My top wire is at about 3 feet. I guess it makes it a little bit more laborious to pick. Our canes are so long, I'm glad we have a bottom wire to tie them to. I'm really glad you showed us your progress on your trim project, so PlantLady could share about Anne yellow, and Jewel black. It'd be so wonderful to have "fall" berries...why, our wild blackberries don't even do that! And maybe here in this warm area, the yellow will produce quite well in autumn! I will "share" this with my daughter living in Oregon who grows raspberries, for the stake-trellising idea!!

    1. So many berries, and so little space around my garden to grow them.

  3. Greetings!
    I am wild about raspberries and was planning a space much like yours until this post. Now I'll need to review my plans. Which is a good thing.
    I picked three gallon zipper bags of wild blackberries this year which I enjoyed, for the most part. Because of the proliferation of wild canes in our area, made it seem wasteful not to harvest them. However, I paid dearly for the privilege. I've never been so tore up in my life. Those brambles were vicious. I plan to plant the thornless kind next year and leave the wild ones to the deer, birds and bears.
    I loved the before and after pictures. My, doesn't it make you feel grand once it's all cleaned up?
    I just want to comment on a previos post. I use pinterest for a visual reference but only if the picture tells the story completely or the article it links to is worthwhile. I used to save web addresses in my "favorites" but then had no idea why. The picture allows instant reference, so looking up something is so much easier and speedier.
    Your writings however are a whole 'nother story. They mean so much to me that expressing it makes me uncomfortable.
    The good news is, there is much to read on DA. I loved the little suggestions at the bottom of each post, so when you are busy, I still can get my "Herrick" fix for the day. Yeah, probably shouldn't have said it quite like that...but, it's the truth.
    I have no idea if I signed up for email or not. I just come here every day hoping to have contact. Lots of times I don't comment because I have to process and mull over what I've read. And likely someone else has already said/written it.
    It will be a sad, sad day, should it come, for whatever reason, when I can't access your writing. I need to get your book, just in case.
    So, that is my two cents worth. And thank you for the opportunity to do so!
    Cheers, Pam

  4. Goodness, why haven't you gone to the primocane raspberry varieties? Then you just mow them off at the end of the season. I use either a field mower or my trimmer with a cutoff blade installed. They grow new fruiting canes each year. We have had the best luck with Caroline and Autumn Bliss varieties. Ours are in planting boxes as they do spread so vigorously. I did go to a wire trellis around the perimeter. I have another row in a high tunnel that will bear until mid Nov. I could email you a photo if desired/helpful to you.
    Steve M Romney WV

    1. Hi Steve,

      I didn't realize the difference in raspberries when I planted those two rows years ago. The Anne yellow berries are a primocane. I'll check out Caroline and Autumn Bliss. So, if I understand correctly, when you cut the canes to the ground in the fall, you don't get a spring harvest. But they would be a whole lot easier to prune that way. Thanks for the comment. P.S. My raspberries want to spread too. shoots are coming up in the adjcent garden beds all summer long.

  5. Have gone to hornless raspberries and blackberries and understand they are to be pruned differently. Have not figured out what that means, still working on it. It is sure nice to be able to pick berries in a short sleeve shirt, and not look like you were in a cat fight. Have a great week, back there on the east side of the country.

    1. Raspberry and blackberry growing characteristics can be a bit confusing. I've thought of getting the Doyle thornless blackberry plants. I'm sure you'll figure it all out in time. I like to understand these things before I try them, and that often leads to procrastination. It's better, I'm sure, to get the plants in the ground and then figure out exactly how to deal with them after they are growing. :-)

    2. Have tried numerous times to grow thornless varieties for the past 30+ years...with no luck at all here in zone 5 in the far upper Midwest (due west of Herrick in a real wet state). The plants grow but fruit scantly if at all. And they don't increase, let alone run rampant like the thorned varieties. Did some research, since I seem to be able to grow most anything - and these wouldn't!, and discovered that most of these thornless varieties originated in the Pacific Northwest - and just aren't suited for the climate extremes of the upper Midwest.
      After decades of gardening, have learned that when something is touted as "easier, simpler or time-saving" in the garden - it ain't gonna work here! (hehe)