How and When to Prune Raspberries

Raspberry cane trained1

Raspberry pruningHow you prune a raspberry plant depends upon when the plant bears fruit—once a year or twice a year.

Raspberries can be divided into two types by when they bear fruit: (1) one-crop, summer-bearing raspberries also called standard raspberries and (2) two-crop, summer and fall bearing raspberries, also called ever-bearing raspberries.

Red raspberries can bear one-crop or two-crops per season depending upon the variety. Yellow raspberry varieties bear two crops per season. Black and purple raspberry varieties bear one crop per season.

Raspberry canes are biennials—meaning they live for two years (raspberry canes grow from suckers on root-like underground stems or by cane tips that bend to the ground and root). One-crop summer-bearing raspberries produce fruit on canes that grew the previous summer and over-wintered. Two-crop, ever-bearing raspberries produce fruit on canes that grew the previous summer and also on new canes that grew during the current season.

How to Prune One-Crop, Summer-Bearing Raspberries

Raspberry plants are pruned by cutting back canes after they bear fruit.

Cut back one-crop, summer-bearing raspberry canes as soon as the harvest is over. Cut these just harvested canes down to the ground.

Do not prune back new canes that have emerged during the summer. After the old, fruit-bearing canes have been cut back, train the new canes to a post or to one or two horizontal wires. These canes will produce a crop next year.

If you are growing raspberries in a row, thin out the new canes to leave 6 inches between remaining canes; that way your fruit-bearing canes will not be too crowded next season.

How to Prune Two-Crop, Ever-bearing Raspberries

Two-crop, ever-bearing raspberries produce fruit on the top third or ends of new canes in the autumn of their first season, and laterally on the lower two thirds of the same canes in the spring of their second season.

Prune off the top of the cane of a two-crop raspberry that has borne fruit; cut the cane back to the lowest point on the cane that bore fruit (usually about 45 inches from the ground). Leave the bottom of the cane to fruit the following spring or early summer. After the lower portion of the cane has fruited in the second year, cut those canes back to the ground. At the same time train the new canes that will bear in the fall up a stake or trellis.

The lower two-thirds of canes of ever-bearing raspberries that overwinter to bear fruit the next spring or early summer are commonly staked or trellised. If you do not want to stake or trellis ever-bearing raspberries, cut back all of the canes after the fall harvest; that means you will get only one harvest from your two-crop, ever-bearing raspberries.

Also of interest: How to Grow Raspberries

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.


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  1. I planted 2 raspberry bushes last summer, they did not bear fruit but this is March, do I prune them now? If so prune them to the ground?

    • Check the variety you are growing to see if it is summer- or fall-bearing. Summer and fall-bearing raspberries are pruned differently. Both are pruned only once a year, but you need to know when. Fall-bearing raspberries fruit on this year’s canes. When they finish bearing fruit, you cut them down to the ground. Next year the plants grow new canes and start all over. Summer-bearing raspberries fruit on the canes that grew the year before. You can remove canes that produced fruit last year, but you must not cut down new canes that have not yet fruited; they will bear fruit in the coming season.

  2. Wow I have literally searched for 2 growing seasons now, after moving into a house with established raspberry plants.. just to try and figure out how to properly care for the ever bearing variety I have now. This is the first time I’ve been able to actually understand what’s being said. Now I’m confident enough to go cutting 🙂 thank u!!!!

  3. Thanks for all the great info! What’s the best way to tell what kind of raspberries I have? We just moved into a house this winter that has a patch where last year’s canes are visible but I don’t know if they’re one-crop or two-crop. Would you prune them at all, or wait and see when they fruit?

    • You will need to wait to know for certain if the raspberries are one or two crop types. However, you can do the following now: remove dead, broken, obviously diseased, and weak canes so that the remaining canes are spaced about 6 inches apart. Also, remove canes that are growing at such an angle that they will bend to the ground when in fruit. If the canes are very long, they can be cut back to about 36 inches.

    • Raspberry canes pruned back to ground level in late winter or very early spring will not produce a mid-summer crop, but they should produce a late summer/ early fall crop.

        • Raspberries are perennial plants that act like biennials. The wood made this year will fruit next year–or very late this year; then the wood will die down. The first year’s canes on a raspberry are called primocanes and those canes in their second year are called floricanes. Floricanes are vegetative the first year; they become fruiting canes that set fruit the following summer–or sometimes very late the same season, and then they die back after fruiting and harvest. Cut out the wood that has fruited every year and keep the new wood that grew this year–that is the wood that will fruit next.

    • Often failure to produce fruit is a sign of failed pollination — which may be caused by environmental factors such as too much wind or rain at flowering time, or too much nitrogen in the soil. It’s difficult to protect plants from the environment, but you can add phosphorus and potassium to the soil which are important for fruit production. Look for an organic fertilizer that is low in nitrogen such as 5-10-10 or thereabouts.

  4. Steve, thank you so much for explaining the two types of raspberries and how to prune them properly in an understandable manner. This is the first article I found that I truly understand and now am confident enough to go out and prune my raspberries.

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