If you have ever seen raspberry brambles out in the wild, then you can understand why the thorny canes can present a challenge at harvesting time. But pruning techniques can affect the harvesting times and help to manage your berry patch. Each technique results in a different harvesting time and a different yield of berries. These techniques can apply to blackberries as well as raspberries.
The first pruning method is to prune the primocanes, or the first-year growth. Allow the canes to grow through the winter, then cut them down to the ground in January or February. A new flush of growth will come up – these are new primocanes. They will bear a large yield of fruit on the ends of the canes in the late summer or fall. Be ready to keep up with the harvest, because the canes will bear fruit for several weeks. This method results in an easier-to-pick harvest with just a single pruning, but the fruit arrives much later than the second method.
The second pruning method results in an earlier harvest. This method allows the floricanes to bear fruit. If you allow the primocanes to grow through the first year, overwinter, and keep growing into the second spring, they are now known as floricanes. These will send out leaves and flowers, then fruit. The floricanes will produce berries earlier in the summer. The challenge is that the plant will also send up new primocanes, which must be pruned out between the thorny floricanes. Many raspberry growers keep their berries in narrow rows to make it easier to thin out the new canes.
You can prune your raspberries the easy but late-bearing way or the more challenging but early-bearing way, and enjoy the sweet reward of raspberries in your own back yard.