What is the proper way to prune fall-bearing red raspberries in late winter/early spring?
Popular fall-bearing red raspberry varieties include ‘Heritage,’ ‘Redwing,’ ‘Caroline,’ and ‘Autumn Bliss.’ Fall-bearing red raspberries naturally produce two crops. One crop is produced in summer on the previous year’s growth. A second crop is produced in late summer or early fall at the tips of the current year’s growth. Fall-bearing red raspberries can be pruned two different ways in March or early April.
One pruning option is to prune out all weak, diseased, and damaged canes at ground level. Leave the largest, most vigorous canes. Cut back the tips of the canes that remain. Remove approximately the upper one-third of the canes. This option provides two crops during the year.
The second option is to prune all canes back to the ground in late winter/early spring. This pruning option produces a single crop in late summer or early fall. (The summer crop is eliminated.) While only one crop is produced, total crop yield is actually larger than the two crop system.
Red raspberries sucker profusely from their roots. To prevent the planting from becoming a wide, unmanageable thicket, red raspberries should be confined to a one- to two-foot-wide hedgerow. Shoots growing beyond the one- to two-foot-wide hedgerow should be destroyed using a rototiller or spade.