Time to thin our raspberries

I really don’t like thinning new canes of our red raspberries. Removing about half of them seems counter-intuitive. More canes, more berries—right?

No, more isn’t always better in our gardens. Why?

The reasons are similar for many fruits and vegetables. Good spacing increases air circulation and helps prevent diseases. Thinning also promotes stronger plants and higher yields—sort of like suckering tomatoes or thinning beets.

So last Thursday I got out my pruners and cut off the extra canes where they emerged from the soil, leaving the remaining canes six inches apart in all directions—well, more or less. As I tossed the cuttings into piles, I tried to convince myself once again that the remaining canes will produce bigger berries than the crowded canes would have.

When an Alberta clipper come roaring through next winter and a “secondary low” sneaks up the Atlantic coast and dumps a few feet of snow on our driveway, I’ll go to our freezer, take out a bag of frozen Heritage raspberries, put a handful of the beautiful red berries into each of our cereal bowls, then cover them with hot oatmeal, and add a modest halo of milk.

Yummy. I won’t even remember my reluctance to thin the canes in April.

6 Comments on “Time to thin our raspberries

  1. Good job on raspberries but my question is which king of raspberry do you have.

    You don't trim summer red like the fall red.

  2. I love that saying “As the garden grows, so shall the gardener”. I have the same stone in my garden. Wonderful post. Thanks for the tips!

  3. Yes, there are two types of raspberries, summer-bearing and everbearing (or primocane-bearing), and the pruning is different. Our is Heritage, an everbearing variety.

    The cycle of the everbearing type is that each winter I cut all canes to the ground. The plants put up all new canes the next spring, which I then thin. The remaining plants fruit from August, approximately, until frost. I like that simple, annual cycle.

    Pruning of summer-bearing varieties is only a bit more complex. Each summer I would cut out all the canes that have fruited that year, and the plant puts up new canes, which I thin and prune that winter. The next spring those canes that have overwintered bloom and fruit, and the two-year cycle continues. I do that with our blackberries.

  4. I'm a fellow heritage grower 🙂 and I am wondering how you thin. Just snip them at the ground? I don't have to dig them up?

  5. Yes, Anonymous, I just snip them at soil level with my pruners. The roots sometimes put up a cane or two later, but that's generally not a problem.

  6. Does it matter which canes you prune? I'm unable to tell which canes are new and which ones produced last year.

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