Now that the fall has set in, it is time to begin thinking about trimming the raspberries back.
Why do we trim them back? To ensure that there is an abundance of fruit for the next year, to cut out any dead and weak canes, to eliminate canes that are out of bounds, to tie up any canes that may need it.
Where to begin? Well, you need to know if your raspberries are everbearing or June bearing cane.
As with anything, begin at the beginning...of a row. I always start with an outside row. Keeping the rows to an 18 inch width will help make picking easy next year. Start with the tall canes, cut them to about the same height that you are or a little shorter. This will help the canes branch out next year giving you the maximum amount of fruit that the cane can hold.
Second, remove any canes out side of the 18 inch width on one side of the row. This may give you some replacement plants for any that may have died or for a new patch/row.
Third, thin the canes. There are two kinds of canes, the primocane and the floracane. The primocane is the NEW cane and the one that will bare the fruit for the upcoming year. You want only the thickest, healthiest cane for the upcoming season. The floracane is the cane that gave you the fruit this year and it has given all it can give and if it hasn't done so already, it will soon die. It is easy to sot these canes as they are usually brown and dry looking. They should be removed at the surface level of the ground. At the same time, remove any spindly, broken or diseased canes. Make sure that the healthy canes are about 12 inches apart. All else will simply reduce your harvest.
Fourth, tie the canes. If you are using a trellis system for your raspberries, you will need to tie the canes to the wires or trellis system. Use a jute string or twist tie to secure them to the system. This will support the heavy harvest of fruit to come. If you are not using a trellis, you are pretty much finished with trimming.
Fifth, clean-up. Remove all the removed canes and debris making sure you burn them. Burning kills any disease, mold or mildew than may be lingering. It also creates potash which is beneficial to the roots of your plants so go a head and spread the ashes evenly and let mother nature take it's course.
Everbearing plants are just the opposite of June-bearing with the exception of bearing twice a year. Your large harvest is in the fall of the year. When getting ready to trim these plants, you need to know that the NEW cane, primocane, comes up in the spring, bears in the fall and a smaller harvest the next spring then you cut the cane off.
The everbearer is a smaller plant that is much more aggressive in putting out runners/suckers so don't be afraid of cutting out too many suckers. The plant will be fine. Most people simply cut the cane back to about hip high so if you wanted to, simply use your hedge trimmer. As with the June-bearing plant, you want the canes about 12 inches apart. This gives room for the plant to put out growth and larger fruit than with plants that are too close.
All in all, growing your own fruit is easy, healthy and makes sense. It is always better to know what your plants have been fed and what was sprayed on them. You also will pick the fruit at it's peak rather than the green so the taste and color will be more intense and flavorful. So ENJOY!