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Pruning raspberries is easy

Prune raspberries to increase yields and fruit quality.

Raspberries must be pruned every year to produce good yields of high quality fruit.

Almost all raspberries grown in North Dakota are summer-bearing red raspberries grown in a narrow hedgerow. These are easy to prune. Here’s how:

An individual raspberry cane lives for only two years. The first year it develops into a green cane called a primocane. In its second year the cane will bloom, bear fruit in summer, and then die. A second year cane is called a floricane.

Raspberry pruning diagram

Raspberry picking season is here (see drawing at left).

After your last harvest, prune out the canes that bore fruit. Such canes have served their purpose and will die this fall. These floricanes are reddish brown and woody. They are easy to distinguish from the green primocanes. Use a lopping shears and remove the floricanes at ground level (see middle drawing). Removing these dying canes will prevent diseases and give the primocanes space to grow.

In late March to April, thin the remaining canes to allow 4–5 sturdy canes per foot of row (see drawing at right). This will maximize yield and fruit quality.

You may notice winter injury on cane tips. Remove this damage. This is also a good time to trim canes to about 5 feet in height.

The width of the bed should be no more than 18 inches across. If wider, the inner canes will not get the sunlight they need for quality fruit production. Canes that emerge outside the bed should be trimmed out.

For more information on pruning and training hardy raspberries, download the publication Growing Raspberries in Wisconsin.


Written by Tom Kalb, Extension Horticulturist, North Dakota State University. Published in the NDSU Yard & Garden Report, July 28, 2014.

Source: Smith, B.R., D.L. Mahr, P.S.McManus, and T.R. Roper. 2007. Growing raspberries in Wisconsin. University of Wisconsin: Madison.

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