Pruning raspberries

If I'm on the ball while I'm doing my fall clean-up chores, I like to cut the raspberry canes that bore this year back down to the ground. It makes my raspberry beds look tidier and I feel like it's one less thing to deal with early next spring.

However, at a recent Master Gardener training session, I learned that it's not such a great idea after all.

It turns out that the raspberry canes that had berries on them -- even though they're starting to look pretty dead now -- are still delivering vital energy to the roots at this point and throughout the fall.

The new recommendation is to wait and cut them back to the ground in late winter or early spring. Be sure to leave the new canes (that didn't bear this year) alone although it would be OK to trim any extra-tall canes back a few inches if you think they will really get whipped around in the winter winds.

So I just wanted to pass this along to you since I'm sure I'm not the only one who likes to trim down the old canes this time of year.

Now, fall-bearing raspberries are a whole different ballgame. We've been growing 'Fall Gold' in part of our raspberry bed and they will bear in the summer and again in the fall. That means you have to be really careful which canes you cut back because you just might be cutting back something that will bear again (been there, done that). It's better to wait until early spring to see which canes have little green leaves sprouting out of them before making the cut!