How to Prune Raspberries + Review of 11 Raspberry Varieties

Stuffing my face with big, juicy, homegrown raspberries is one of my favorite summer pastimes! Learning how to prune raspberries can be the difference between a successful harvest and a disappointing one. Pruning is necessary no matter which type you have, and doing it properly will give you the biggest, sweetest berries, and the most berries possible. It really does make a difference!

Are your raspberries not producing?
Do you only get disappointing or small raspberry harvests?

In this video we cover how to prune fall bearing, ever-bearing, and summer bearing raspberries of all colors.  And what to do if you don’t know which type you have. I also have a quick note about how we train and trellis them. And you’ll find our list of 11 varieties and my review of them at the bottom of this post.



These grow new canes from the ground up every year. They grow the canes all summer long, and then they make fruit on those canes in the fall. One and done, super easy. They are sometimes called “primocane” raspberries, PRIMO meaning first or one. Makes sense!

Fall raspberries are my favorite— they’re the best producing and most delicious, much tastier than summer berries. The only downside to fall raspberries is that they don’t produce until the  late summer. But they do produce berries continuously from late summer until  frost.

These types of raspberries grow on shorter, stockier canes that don’t *need* to be trellised (we didn’t for many years!), but will benefit by a simple rope strung next to them to help keep them up just a little better, and reduce the amount of bending you need to do when picking them.

Referred to as “floricane” raspberries, these make berries on second-year canes. This means they have a two-year cycle, where the first year they grow canes but don’t produce fruit, and then second year is when they make fruit on those canes. And because they already put their energy into the canes last year, they’re able to produce fruit earlier in the season, in the summer instead of fall. Also makes sense!

While summer berries aren’t as tasty, I do appreciate that they produce fruit early in the summer, usually in early July for us. And it is such a joy to have fresh berries in high summer.

These types of berries produce one flush of flowers and one flush of berries that ripen over a months time.

Well, here’s where it gets confusing for people… If you have fall bearing raspberries and you do not cut them down to the ground in the early spring, they will produce both a summer and a fall crop, which is why fall bearing raspberries also have the name of ever bearing raspberries.

This sounds like it would be great, doesn’t it? It’s actually not. Each harvest will be smaller, and the fall harvest will be delayed. You will by far get the best overall crop by growing them as a true fall berry, by cutting the canes down every spring. Most raspberry authorities don’t recommend growing fall berries as ever-bearing.

If you want raspberries in the summer and the fall, I think the best approach is to grow the two different varieties, don’t grow fall bearing and treat them like summer berries. And because they are pruned differently, it’s best to keep the two types in two separate patches.

You can see why knowing which type of raspberry you have is essential to making sure it is pruned correctly, and in a way that will maximize fruit production!


Most raspberries should be pruned while dormant, so anytime in the winter, or in spring before they start growing new leaves. We always prune as soon as the snow melts and we can access the beds. It’s one of the first spring tasks we check off our list!


If you’re looking for simple and easy, fall bearing raspberries are it!

Pruning requires very little thought— which is my favorite kind of task! All you do is cut all of the canes all the way to the ground in early Spring. Thats it, no fuss. And it’s the same for all colors, from red to yellow and gold, to black.

It feels drastic, but I promise that your fall bearing raspberries will flourish and if you prune them this way.

I’ve seen some people prune their raspberries, but leave six inches to a foot of cane still standing. Don’t do that. Cut them all the way to the ground as low as you can, try to cut them level with the soil or sticking up an inch or so.


Now, summer berries aren’t hard to prune, but they do require a little bit more thought.

The goal is to cut out all of the old canes that fruited last year, just leaving the new canes. So for this, you will need to be able to tell the difference between an old cane and a new one.

Once you see them side-by-side, it should be fairly obvious: old canes are often thicker and have dry looking skin. These have grown and produced berries and they won’t produce again. They look old. New canes are usually brown, more supple, with shiny skin and look in good condition. They look fresh. These are the canes that grew new last year and are ready to make fruit for this year.

So, once you’ve identified the old, haggard canes, go through and selectively cut them out. And cut them as close to the ground as you can.

If you have summer bearing black raspberries, these take even more work. They are the special snowflakes of the raspberry world. In addition to cutting out the old canes, you’ll also need to think about trying them up and tip pruning them because they grow a bit wild and unruly. 

If you don’t tie them up, they’ll flop on the ground and cause problems. We use a simple 2×4, and some twine to keep them gathered, which you can see in the video linked above.

To prune these, we untie the bundle, cut out the old canes, and then retie them back up. 

In addition to that, black raspberries often benefit from being tip pruned— which we actually do in the summer. When the canes are 6 to 8 feet tall in late summer, we cut the tips. This encourages more branching and more fruit production the following year.

We also end up pruning out any winter damage on the tips in early spring. This looks like clipping off any drier, shriveled, dead wood at the tips of the branches, and cutting it back until we see healthy wood.


We have a lot of different fruits we prune every year, so we have a lot of different pruning options for raspberries. Here are our favorites!

I wouldn’t use a powerful gas-powered chainsaw for pruning raspberries, but this electric one acts more like a hedge trimmer and is great for mowing down big patches of old fall canes. This is an incredibly handy tool to have around the homestead– we are always grabbing this and using it for small projects. Electric Chainsaw —> here.

These also work wonderfully for cutting a lot of fall canes all at once, or selectively cutting out dead summer canes. These are the most versatile option for pruning if you have both types of raspberries. Professional Hedge Shears —> here.

We use these more for thick, woody, pokey blackberry canes, but they work for raspberries too. They are a little slower to operate, but they get the job done! We absolutely love this tool and use it around the homestead constantly! Ratcheting Loppers —> here.

We primarily use this for things like apple trees, but a hand pruner works for cutting raspberry canes as well. It will require more bending and reaching, but it will work! We do use a hand held pruner like this for tip pruning black raspberries. This is a Felco #8, which is the brand that real orchardist all use and love. Hand Pruner —-> here.


It would be fair to say we’re a little raspberry obsessed…
We love growing lots of different varieties of everything, raspberries included. We’ve been growing raspberries for 10 years now and have amassed quite a collection– here are the best (and worst) raspberry varieties I’ve found.

Caroline (fall-bearing)
My very favorite, these red berries are large, conical and very sturdy. The canes are very productive and they are the most flavorful and sweetest berry variety we have. They are always the one that I reach for, and I highly recommend them!

Jaclyn (fall-bearing)
This is my second favorite red berry. It has great flavor, but not quite as great as Caroline– close though! This is also a big, sturdy, and conical berry, and a wonderful berry to grow. This is the first fall berry to produce, beating out the other reds by a few days.

Joan J (fall-bearing)
This red berry has excellent sweet flavor, but is a little more fragile and soft. It’s also slightly smaller, more rounded, and not as conical as Caroline or Jaclyn. But, this is also a delicious and worthy berry to grow! Joan J produced the longest for us in 2023 during the year that winter/frost never came.

Anne (fall-bearing)
A beautiful sunny yellow berry that is honey sweet but lacking true raspberry flavor. I like having a few plants of these, but I wouldn’t want a gigantic patch. I want a raspberry raspberry… so while these are fun to grow and make a lovely addition to the raspberry basket, they are not the ones I reach for most often.

Fall Gold (fall-bearing)
This is a berry that I don’t particularly love. It’s a beautiful deep golden yellow (Anne is yellow, while I’d call this one golden) and has an almost-cooling blue raspberry candy flavor. It is also lacking true raspberry flavor, but its real downfall is that it is extremely soft and fragile. You pretty much need to eat these right off the plant, as they don’t keep well.

Double Gold (fall-bearing)
This is a special berry: the fluorescent-coral-pink color is exceptionally stunning, and it looks like it glows! It has a rich, sweet flavor (somewhere between a red and yellow raspberry) …so, not the most raspberry tasting raspberry. But it’s beauty makes up for that! Unfortunately, this variety needs a little bit longer growing season than my climate allows, so I have to grow this one as a summer berry instead of a fall berry.

Niwot (fall-bearing or summer-bearing)
A solid black raspberry, this has good jammy black raspberry flavor, and the berries grow big and beautiful. This variety is a little bit unique and that it grows really well as a fall berry, or a summer berry. I actually prefer to grow this one in summer because I appreciate the flavor more in the summertime when it’s not outshined by the beautiful fall red raspberries we have.

Royalty Purple (summer-bearing)
The best summer red raspberry I’ve tried. This has a deep purple red color with a white wash tint over it– it’s stunning! It has good flavor for a summer berry (though not as great as the fall berries), and these are really prolific as well. The berries can get humongous– some of the biggest I’ve seen.

Jewel (summer-bearing)
We have 2 summer black varieties: Jewel and Mac Black. Jewel has a lighter and brighter black raspberry flavor, and the berries are smaller than Mac Black.

Mac Black (summer-bearing)
This black raspberry variety has deeper jammier notes, and is much larger than Jewel. I prefer this one a little bit more than Jewel, though they are both great.

Boyne (summer-bearing)
This is the only raspberry I’ve ever grown that I thought was awful. This summer red is completely lacking in flavor compared to any of the other berries we grow. It’s tasteless. We still have a few of these plants hanging around, but we plan to get rid of them.


Hi, I’m Crystal. I love growing, cooking, and preserving, and we hope to inspire you to do the same!

You can get to know me better over on Instagram where I share a lot of our day to day lives, including what we’re cooking and eating, what the chickens are up to, and how the gardens and orchards are producing.

My YouTube channel is where I share more in-depth tutorials on topics like gardening and orchard care and preserving.

My book, Freeze Fresh, teaches you how to preserve over 50 different fruits and vegetables. I share my time-tested preparation techniques that ensure color, texture, and flavor are retained in the freezer. From familiar favorites like apples, corn, potatoes, and peas to surprises like lettuce, avocado, and citrus fruit. There are over 100 recipes that freeze well, such as Blueberry Maple Pancake Sauce, Pickled Sliced Beets, Mango Chutney, and Honey Butter Carrot Mash–as well as delicious ways to cook the frozen food after thawing, including Tart Cherry Oatmeal Bars, Broccoli Cheese Soup, and Blueberry-Matcha Latte Smoothie.

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