When should I prune Heritage and Carolina Red raspberries?

Answer: Both of these varieties are primocane-fruiting varieties so they will bear fruit on both first year (primocane) and second year canes (floricanes). The only canes you will want to remove at this point are the canes that are entering their third season. These canes will not bear fruit for you this year so they’re useless. It may be difficult to identify these canes because at this point your primocanes and floricanes will look pretty similar. But you are looking for the canes that were floricanes last year. You’ll want to prune them as close to the ground as possible to prevent the cane from sprouting a side shoot.

One strategy with primocane-fruiting raspberries and blackberries is to remove or mow down all of the canes in late winter and start from scratch every spring. This will mean that you miss out on the floricane fruit in June, but you get a larger harvest from your primocane fruit in the fall. The annual pruning/mowing really simplifies things, but you miss out on your early summer fruit. If you want both primocane and floricane crops you can use the pruning method that I described in the paragraph above.

Another part of pruning this time of year is to manage the hedgerow, so if you have any unwieldy canes that are too long to manage you can prune those back to a manageable length. During the season you will want to tip or pinch the primocanes once they get 3-4 ft tall to encourage lateral branching, so that is something you can plan for.

The ATTRA publication >Brambles: Organic Production publication will serve as an informative read to learn more about raspberry production. Among its topics, the publication discusses cultural considerations including site selection, establishment, pruning and trellising, and it introduces organic practices for fertility, weed, disease, and insect management. It also provides new information on greenhouse production and season extension and addresses economics and marketing.