Can I prune my red raspberries back to the ground in late fall?

FAQ
Question: 

Can I prune my red raspberries back to the ground in late fall?

Answer: 

The growth and fruiting characteristics of raspberries are unique.  The plant’s roots and crown are perennial, while the stems or canes are biennial.  A raspberry plant may survive and produce fruit for many years.  However, individual canes live only two years and then die. 

There are two types of red raspberries.  Summer-bearing red raspberries are strictly vegetative during the first growing season.  The following year, these same canes flower, produce fruit, and then die. 

The growth and fruiting characteristics of fall-bearing red raspberries are slightly different.  Fall-bearing varieties naturally produce two crops.  The first crop is produced in late summer or early fall at the tips of the current season’s growth.  The following year, a summer crop is produced on the lower portions of these same canes.  After the second crop, the canes die. 

Many gardeners with fall-bearing red raspberries prune them back to the ground in late fall or early spring.  Doing so eliminates the summer crop, but allows the late summer/early fall crop to mature 1 to 2 weeks earlier.  In addition, total crop yields are larger utilizing the one-crop system versus the two-crop system. 

Summer-bearing red raspberries should not be pruned back to the ground in late fall or early spring.  Pruning summer-bearing red raspberries back to ground level will eliminate the following season’s crop. 

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