Pruning the raspberries was one of the items on my “putting the garden to bed” to-do list.
Pruning removes dead canes, opens the rest of the canes up to light and air and gives new canes room to grow.
The best time to prune is in the fall. The canes have finished fruiting. Leaves have died and fallen off. New growth won’t start until the spring.
The first step is to identify which canes are dead. You want to look for the canes that are woody. For our berries, that means I can see actual bark and it looks like the outer shell of the cane is peeling a bit. The cane in the centre of the picture below needs to go. The two on either side can stay to bear berries next year.
Using sturdy clippers, cut the dead cane a couple of inches above the ground. Pull the cut cane out of the row and throw it on your compost pile. If your canes are very thick or tangled, you may need to clip the dead cane in half so that you can extract it from the row.
It’s okay to have a little stump left behind. In a year or two, this stump will rot away.
While you’re in your raspberry patch, now is also the time to weed (the last time this season). I also tuck the canes back under the wires of our trellis (here’s how we built our raspberry trellis). This contains the plants, helps them grow upright rather than flopping over and makes it easier for picking and care next year. You can see in the picture below one guy is on the wrong side of the wire (while his neighbour has bent over nearly backwards to grow within the row).
At this time of year–especially while temperatures are still warm–the canes are pretty flexible, so it’s easy to bend and coax them under the wires. The result is a tidy row of plants with plenty of space to walk between the rows.
Has anyone else been pruning raspberries? Any tips to share? How are you doing on your garden clean up this fall?