How And When To Prune Raspberries

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:31 pm

Pruning raspberries is essential for maintaining the health of the plants, promoting vigorous growth, and ensuring a good harvest of berries. The timing and method of pruning depend on the type of raspberries you are growing, which are typically categorized into two groups: summer-bearing raspberries and everbearing (or fall-bearing) raspberries.

Summer-Bearing Raspberries:

Prune summer-bearing raspberries once a year during late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Remove Dead or Weak Canes: Begin by identifying the dead, damaged, or weak canes. These canes will not produce good fruit and can also harbor diseases. Prune them down to the ground.
  2. Thin the Canes: To ensure adequate air circulation and sunlight penetration, thin the remaining canes. Leave about 4-6 strong, healthy canes per foot of row. Cut these canes back to about 5 feet (1.5 meters) in height. Make the cuts just above a bud at a slight angle.
  3. Prune Side Shoots: Summer-bearing raspberries produce fruit on the previous year’s growth. After the main pruning, prune any side shoots or lateral branches to about 12-18 inches (30-45 cm) in length, as these are the ones that will produce fruit in the coming season.

Everbearing (Fall-Bearing) Raspberries:

How And When To Prune Raspberries

Everbearing raspberries can produce two crops each year: one in early summer and another in the fall. The pruning approach is a bit different:

  1. Prune for a Fall Crop: In late winter or early spring, prune all the canes that fruited in the previous year down to the ground. These canes won’t produce fruit again. Leave the new canes that grew during the previous year, as they will produce fruit in the fall.
  2. Prune for a Summer Crop: After the fall harvest, prune the spent canes that bore fruit during the fall back to the ground. Leave the new canes that grew during the current season. These canes will produce a summer crop the following year. These new canes should be pruned like summer-bearing raspberries (thin and cut back to 5 feet).
  3. Thinning: Regularly thin the canes within the row to maintain good airflow and access to sunlight. This ensures better fruit production and disease prevention.
  4. Prune Side Shoots: Like summer-bearing raspberries, everbearing raspberries also produce fruit on lateral branches. Prune these branches to 12-18 inches in length to encourage fruit production.
  5. Cleanup: Remove any dead or diseased canes as soon as you notice them during the growing season.
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Always use sharp, clean pruning shears or loppers to make your cuts. Pruning raspberries can seem intimidating at first, but it’s essential for maintaining a healthy and productive berry patch. Proper pruning will help you enjoy bountiful harvests and reduce the risk of diseases and pests.

Newly purchased raspberry plants usually always have a label stating what type or variety the raspberry is. However, it often happens that the label is lost or you take over a new garden where raspberries may already be present. In this case, to find out the raspberry variety, it is best to pay attention to which canes the plant bears fruit.

Summer raspberries bear on the biennial canes.
Summer raspberries always bear on the two-year-old canes, the canes that grew the previous year. Biennial canes are easily identified by their woody bark. As the name implies, harvesting occurs in the summer through the end of July.

Autumn raspberries bear on one-year-old canes.
Autumn raspberries, on the other hand, form the fruit already on the one-year-old canes, which have sprouted in the same year. The raspberries are ripe only from August and can be harvested until autumn.

Cutting summer raspberries

For summer raspberries, only the biennial canes are cut about ground level. If pruning is done immediately after harvest, it is easier to distinguish between the one-year-old and two-year-old canes. The dark brown canes from which you harvested the raspberries in the summer are the two-year-old ones. These shoots are already woody and will not bear fruit the next year, so they must be cut off starting in July immediately after harvesting.

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The one-year-old (this year’s) shoots, which are usually still light green, are left standing, as they will provide an abundant harvest next year. No more than 8 – 12 of the one-year-old young shoots should be retained per meter, so that enough air can still circulate between the shoots. Adequate ventilation prevents the spread of fungal diseases.

Prune autumn raspberries properly

Autumn raspberries are popular with many gardeners because pruning them is the easiest. With these raspberry bushes, the fruit already grows on the one-year-old (this year) young shoots. Then, after the harvest, all the canes of autumn raspberry are simply cut off near the ground in the fall. The ideal time for this is between October and November. With this method of pruning, the raspberries bear fruit abundantly in the fall.

However, autumn raspberries also produce fruit twice a year, in the fall and the next early summer, if the canes are simply left standing in October. Pruning is then done immediately after harvesting in the summer. However, with this method of cultivation, the yield in the fall is not as abundant.

Pruning twotimer raspberries

In nurseries are increasingly offered so-called twotimer raspberries, which bear raspberries twice a year. However, these varieties are classic autumn raspberries that naturally produce fruit several times a year. The difference is that these autumn raspberries are simply cultivated like summer raspberries. Therefore, in early summer after harvesting twotimer raspberry, as with the summer raspberry, only shorten the biennial canes and remove excess shoots.

Pruning weak and diseased shoots in the spring.

When the raspberries sprout in the spring, it should be checked whether there are too weak or diseased shoots in the bushes. The sickly canes must then be removed.

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Raspberry pruning at a glance
Summer raspberry

  • shorten only the two-year-old brown shoots close to the ground
  • from July directly after harvest
  • leave approx. 8 – 12 of the one-year-old light green shoots per meter
  • in spring remove weak and diseased shoots

Autumn raspberry

  • simply shorten all shoots close to the ground
  • in October/November
  • remove weak and diseased shoots in spring

For a second harvest in early summer:
Leave all shoots in place in fall and prune only after harvest in early summer

Twotimer raspberry

  • remove only the two-year-old brown canes
  • in early summer after harvest
  • remove diseased or excess shoots

Tools for cutting raspberries

Do not bruise the canes of raspberry when pruning, otherwise the shoots will be more susceptible to infection and disease. Therefore, sharp pruning shears are used for pruning so that the canes are cut with a smooth cut. To avoid disease, the scissors should be cleaned and disinfected before use. Raspberry bushes are proven with thorns, which easily cause injuries to hands. So when pruning always wear protective gloves.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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