That is, as soon as the snow and ice are about out of the way! Aim to finish before new buds emerge in March.
Begin by cutting out all dead canes to the base of the plant. These are very visible during this dormant season and will have a different color and lighter feel than live canes.
Next: select misshapen and thin canes to remove. Leave only healthy, strong canes. Ideally, pick the strongest new canes growing at 4” intervals and remove the rest. Then shorten all remaining canes to 18” height, or 12” if preferred.
Remove all debris completely from the garden to a burn pile or woody debris area. This helps reduce the spread of diseases and pests in the patch.
Plan to edge your bed of raspberries in April with a sharp half-moon edger or square edging shovel to prevent runners from spreading into unwanted areas. This will make picking easier come summer! We like to scratch in an organic fertilizer called Berry Mix at this time to boost bloom and fruit. Top off with a mulch of straw, shredded leaves, or aged woodchips to conserve moisture and protect roots.
We’ll address the pruning of black raspberries in the next issue, as these have different rules.