Pruning raspberry bushes

March is the perfect time of the year to prune raspberries as the plants are putting effort into new shoots.

Raspberries from last year's harvest

Raspberries from last year’s harvest

Raspberries are plants that have biannual branches that grow directly from the root stock that grow one year and then produce berries in the second year. This means that after the second year, the branches die and need to be cut back to keep the plants orderly and make space for the next years crop.

Determining what branches that needs to be removed every year is straightforward once you have a proper look at the bushes.

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Here is the way to tell the dead wood from the branches that will produce raspberries:

  • One way to identify the live branches, is by looking for green buds on the branches.
  • The other way is to look at the color of the branches. The dead branches are lighter in color than the live ones.
  • Lastly, if you cut a branch, the difference in the color of the cross section of the wood allows you to see if it’s a live or dead branch.

On the left is a live branch where the cross section is green and on the right is a dead branch as the cross section is beige brown. Also the dead branch will snap if bent while the live branch will bend.

The left branch is live wood and the right branch is dead wood. You can see this be the difference in color, the live one being green and the dead one being very light and pale

The left branch is live wood and the right branch is dead wood. You can see this be the difference in color, the live one being green and the dead one being very light and pale

How to: 

  • All you need to prune the bushes is a par of shears and gloves if the stems are a bit prickly.
  • Cut off the dead branches at ground level.

This may be a little bit tedious work, but doing so will give you air circulation around the berries, making it easier to pick them, especially for little hands, and avoid that they rot because of too much moisture.

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