Raspberry rules?

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Q: I’ve been getting mixed messages about pruning raspberries and now I’m confused about how much to cut and when. What do I do with my raspberry plants right now?

Raspberries grow from perennial roots that produce stems called canes. The canes generally grow to full size the first year, looking lovely and green but, to the perplexity of the home gardener, usually do not produce fruit that season. In fact, fruit production, for most varieties, doesn’t start until the second year.

There are two types of raspberries. Summer-bearing types give you one crop around July of the second year. Everbearing types produce two crops, one in summer and one in fall. They will produce fruit on the top of the cane, which then dies back. If you leave these canes they will fruit the following summer on the bottom portion that didn’t have fruit previously. If you’ve purchased new plants from the nursery then they would most likely be two-year-old canes.

On summer-bearing varieties, once a cane has produced fruit it can be cut down to the ground during your fall cleanup when the leaves have dropped. For everbearing varieties, the canes that had fruit lower down the plant can be cut down in fall. Leave canes that had only green growth or fruit just at the top, as they will be your fruiting canes next year.

If you forget the lingo of everbearing and summer bearing, just remember to cut out the canes that gave you masses of plump, red, tasty fruit. Seems a cruel end to a bountiful cane, but don’t worry – there will be more next year.