The questions pertaining to raspberry pruning are some of the most popular enquiries from hobby gardeners. When do I have to prune my raspberries? Which shoots have to go, which must stay? And what do I have to do with the autumn raspberries?
Interestingly, the question about when to correctly prune raspberries is crucial before, namely during the production of sales plants. If single shoots are okay for a small plant with a pot size of up to 1 L or a diameter of 12 cm, then larger pots with a volume of 2, 3 or 5 L require multiple shoots with plants that are as bushy as possible in order to look attractive at the point of sale.
When and how can raspberry plants be cut back during plant production? This is the question that we will explore in depth in this article. We are, of course, aware that many producers do it their own way and they have worked out different methods for their company and their target group; this is more about showing the most important “dos and don'ts”...
Pruning raspberries before potting – the young plant makes the difference
So that you can fully concentrate on potting the young plants, we already take care of the first cut for you. On the one hand, this is to provide you with a high-quality young plant and on the other hand, this is done since we do not want to expose you to the risk of plant loss.
The overwintered/two-year-old young plant quality
Picture: dormant overwintered/two-year-old raspberry young plants
The overwintered/two-year-old raspberry young plants have been pruned several times until the delivery date. The first sets are pruned for the first time just a few weeks after being pricked into the standard trays. Thereby we prevent a too dense plant stock. Since the raspberry pruning takes place already after the longest day, the growth in length is slowed down; however the roots continue to grow. Thus we achieve compact young plants with a good root system until autumn. After the natural leaf fall, the shoots are then cut back to about 2 cm in length. Firstly, this radical pruning is possible because later growth is mainly obtained from the basal buds. And second, the radical pruning is exceptionally allowed here because the plants are still dormant. One thing should be noted: such radical pruning may never occur in the growing season!
The spring-propagated/one-year-old young plant quality
Picture: fresh cutted springpropagated raspberry young plants
The spring-propagated/one-year-old raspberry young plants are also pruned for the first time a few weeks after pricking. This cut is made as early as possible, when almost all of the tips can be trimmed. At this time, the shoots are still very soft and the plants are able to cope with the pruning the best. After only a few days, the pruned young plants sprout again out of the eyes on the leaf axils. This gives us young plants that can more easily grow multiple shoots in later production and we ourselves carry the risk of any plant losses.
Pruning raspberries after potting
So that you can also offer your customers high-quality pot/container raspberries, pruning them after potting can hardly be avoided. Raspberry pruning and thus the production of a bushy plant are more important the bigger the pot is.
After all, the decisive factor is the time of sale, which results in production methods and pot dates, and also the most important tips and tricks for raspberries...
1. Renewed production for late spring sales
With good sales and insufficient quantities, a rapid re-production of raspberry pots for timely sales is still possible and feasible. For this, it is necessary to resort to two-year-old young plants as the one-year-old young plants are not yet available at the beginning/middle of March. In addition, the plants must be placed in a protected location at such an early pot date in order to ensure the earliest possible sprouting. When the potted raspberry plant has reached a height of about 10 - 15 cm, you can start pruning.
The decisive criterion here is not the actual plant height, but rather the uniformity. This is because all of the tips should be able to be pruned at once. However, it is very important to ensure that just the shoot tips are cut. The softer the shoot is that has been cut, the better it sprouts out again and at the same time the formation of new base shoots are stimulated. In addition, it is important to ensure that green leaves on the plants always remain on the plant, so that it continues to have a sufficiently large assimilation area for growth. Note: if this condition is not respected and the plant is pruned too low (so that no or hardly any leaves remain, plant losses must be expected).
Depending on the degree of rooting, the plants can already be sold when the new shoots have reached a height of about 15 cm. Depending on the weather and climatic region and of course also dependent on the expansion of the protected cultivation area (glass, plastic, double film, etc.), this can already be the case after 8 to 10 weeks from the potting date.
2. The production for summer sales
Picture: well-grown raspberry plant in a 5-liter pot
Producing pot or container plants for a desired sales period from the second half of the summer (July/August) can be carried out using both two-year and one-year-old young plants. Here, the potting should be done directly on an outdoor area because due to the enormous vigour of our young plants, the shoots in a protected production are very lush and at the same time very soft, which is significantly detrimental to the subsequent plant quality. In addition, a protected production is also not necessary since the one-year-old young plants are delivered only from the 19th or 20th calendar week, that is much later than the “Frost Saints” and thus no late frosts are to be expected.
Here, too, the first pruning measure can be made when the crop has reached a uniform height, but has not yet become too high. As already described above, pruning raspberries on an open space is essential in order to ensure that the shoots are cut at the youngest possible stage and that, in turn, they are not cut too deeply so that a sufficient assimilation area remains on the raspberry plant. After re-emergence and adequate rooting, the raspberry plants are ready for sale. This may be the case after four weeks after trimming or eight weeks after potting, depending on the weather and the company. If the sale is delayed or if the production is progressing even faster than planned, the height can also be kept at 5 - 10 cm below the target height by pruning regularly...But the plants will then not be ready for sale for 14 to 21 days until the new sprouting has occurred.
3. Production for overwintering – sales: autumn/spring
Picture: well-branched raspberry plant in a 5-liter pot
Potting the raspberry young plants for pot/container plants for sales in autumn and in the spring of the following year can also be done well in the summer. However, the earliest possible pot date is very dependent on the location of the respective business. Thus, the last potting in the Alpine foothills, on the southern side of the Alps or in southern Germany is about three weeks later than in northern Germany, the Netherlands or Denmark. In the north, the ideal and latest possible time is in the second half of June to mid-July; in the Swiss Rhine Valley around the 10th of August.
In principle, one should always be aware that under the condition of good woodiness, a young, rather late potted plant in the following spring is always healthier than a plant already potted in February or March, which has to do with the age of the root system and the tolerance to the winter wetness.
But how and when should I prune this biggest raspberry set for the spring season?
Again, special attention is paid to the timing when pruning the sprouting raspberry plants. It should be done as early as possible and thus with the softest shoots possible and again not too deep, so that enough leaves will still be remaining.
If the plants threaten to grow too big due to ideal weather conditions and an extremely good supply of nutrients, then another pruning measure may be necessary. The above points should also be noted: cut as young as possible and not too deep. Often, it is easy to cut about 5-10 cm below the desired sales height in order to keep the height.
Should it happen that the ideal time to prune raspberries is missed, then we strongly advise not to cut back the plants. This would only lead to unnecessarily high losses. In this special case, it would be better not to cut anymore and wait for the winter pruning of the mature canes.
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