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