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Pruning Raspberries and Blackberries

Cane berries are wonderful to grow in your edible landscape. They make a great hedge and give you sweet tasty berries as well. But to grow cane berries that produce abundant yields, they should be pruned every year. The method of pruning will depend on the type of berry you have and the region that you grow in.

Raspberries–Summer-Bearing Reds

Summer pruning–not much pruning is needed except for removing the floricanes after they have produced berries. You can also prune out any suckers that are coming up outside your desired growing space. Dormant pruning–this is done when the plants are fully dormant, anywhere from November to March (in northern regions). Remove any dead or damaged canes. Remove canes so your bed width is no more than 18” and thin canes within the bed to about one cane every 6” (keeping the most robust canes).

Raspberries–Fall-Bearing Reds

Summer pruning–the difference between summer-bearing and fall-bearing raspberries is that fall-bearing produces fruit on the first year canes or primocanes. So no summer pruning is needed. Dormant pruning–prune all of the canes to the ground. This will give you big yields in fall. There is another way to prune that will give you a small summer crop and also a small fall crop. This method is easy, just leave the fruited canes until the following summer. They will fruit below the previous years fruit and yield early to midsummer. It is up to you on how to prune them.

Black Raspberries

Summer pruning–remove spent floricanes and also tip prune the primocanes to about 3-4 feet. Dormant pruning–remove damaged and dead canes. Cut back lateral branches to about 6”. Thin out canes to 5-10 per plant, keeping only the biggest canes for next year.

Erect Blackberries

Summer pruning–tip prune the primocanes to 4 feet. Remove the floricanes after fruiting. Dormant pruning–cut back laterals to about 12-18 inches. Thin out canes to about 10 inches apart.

Semi-Erect Blackberries

Summer pruning–tip prune the primocanes to about 5 feet and tie up canes to the support structure (trellis or fence). Remove the spent floricanes after fruiting. Dormant pruning–thin out canes to 5-8 per plant. Remove laterals that are growing lower than 3 feet and shorten the remaining laterals to 12-18 inches.

Trailing Blackberries

Summer pruning/care–do not prune the primocanes. If you live in a very cold region you can leave the canes on the ground. This will help reduce winter injury. The disadvantage is when these are lifted and tied in the spring the canes will be more brittle and may break. If you live in a milder winter region, lift the new canes and tie them to a trellis or fence. Thin to 6-10 canes, removing any weak or damaged canes. Dormant pruning/care–if you live in a harsh winter region, you should cover your trailing canes with mulch to prevent winter injury. When spring arrives the canes can be lifted and secured to your support structure.


  • Kay same advice as given to Karen, mulch the canes to protect them over the winter.

  • Karen, you can cover your canes with a thick layer of mulch to prevent winter injury. “Dormant pruning/care–if you live in a harsh winter region, you should cover your trailing canes with mulch to prevent winter injury. When spring arrives the canes can be lifted and secured to your support structure.”

  • We live in zone 5b in Eastern Idaho. Once a year our temps will go down to -5 for a night or two.
    Should I be covering my trailing canes with straw, or will snow coverage do?

  • We are in zone 5b, but we do have a few temps down to -5.
    Should I be covering my trailing canes with straw? Or will snow cover suffice?

  • Barbara, Olallieberries and boysenberries are considered a trailing blackberry.

  • Where do olallieberries and boysenberries fall in your above categories?

  • Bruce, the floricanes are the canes that have fruit. Primocanes are the new canes that will shoot up really tall but have no fruit. They will produce fruit the following year.

  • Dan, Primocanes are the new shoots that are produced every year, floricanes are the two year old canes that produce the fruit. After they produce fruit they die back and the primocanes will produce the following year’s fruit.

  • I have “Prime-Jim” and “Prime-Jan” blackberries, which are said to be primocane-bearing. I have no idea how to tell a primocane from a floricane. I just trim back any over-tall canes or dead canes.

    Bruce A Hamilton
  • It would be nice if you explain what primocanes, flourocanes, and tip pruning are. Thank you for taking the time to gather and distribute this information. Appreciated.

    Dan Gerson
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