When to prune raspberries – the prime time to tend to your summer fruit

Monty Don details the correct way to prune fruit plants

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Pruning fruit plants at the right time is an important part of the harvesting process in order to grow a strong, juicy crop in your garden. Tending to raspberries is dependent on the variety you’re growing and should be determined by its fruiting and flowering periods. Whether you’re growing summer or autumn fruiting varieties, these are the general rules of thumb for well-pruned raspberries.

These cheap crops are easy to grow and when tended to correctly, can produce an abundance of rich, red and sweet berries from their unassuming woody-stemmed canes.

Planting a mixture of autumn and summer fruiting raspberries can sustain a regular crop from June right through to October, so your summer-kitchen will never be short on these naturally sweet-treats.

If left unpruned, however, these fruitful canes can become congested – limiting their ability to produce large berries as they outgrow their allocated space, causing the stems to become weaker each year before dying completely.

When to prune summer-fruiting raspberries

Summer fruiting raspberry canes flower and fruit on old growth from the previous year so it’s important to prune summer varieties back to ground level after their summer harvest.

These sun-loving raspberries, also known as floricanes, will fruit between June and early August so if you haven’t already, it’s time to prune back your empty canes.

The Royal Horticultural Society recommends cutting back fruited canes to ground level after harvesting in summer, without leaving a stub, before selecting the strongest for canes and tying them four to six inches apart along the wire support.

Remove any remaining young stems at ground level and tend to these again in February- when you should trim the long canes to a bud about four inches above the top wire.

When to prune autumn raspberries

Pruning your autumn raspberries should be done thoroughly in February and lightly in the summer to stop overcrowded canes.

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Autumn varieties of this summer berry produce ripe fruits from August through to October on stems grown in the same year, so pruning is key to maintaining this endurance crop.

Much like summer-fruiting varieties, autumn raspberry canes should be cut back to ground level in February, removing any woody-stems that are growing away from the main row.

Autumn raspberries require much less support, needing just one single wire or stretch of robust string between posts to keep the long arching canes from spilling into other areas of your garden.

Feed your autumn crop with a general fertiliser and add mulch to the soil of the canes to retain moisture in the roots and suppress weeds.

Autumn raspberries make for great potted-crops for a more fruitful patio as they are easy to prune.

Tying summer raspberry canes

Summer varieties need more support than their autumnal counterparts so always tie the canes when pruning – ensure that canes are placed and tied along one side of the wire so you can keep fruiting canes and younger canes separate as the season progresses.

Securing your raspberry canes to wire supports is easily done by following these three simple steps for a well supported crop:

  • Carefully move the can up against the support wire and bring the gardening twine alongside.
  • Move the twine over the support wire and round the back of the cane
  • Hold in place before wrapping the twine over itself and under the wire to secure the cane.

Tip:

Always wear gloves and use sharp secateurs when pruning to avoid injury.

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