Tuesday 21 January 2014

Pruning Raspberries and Apple-trees

One of the tasks I do at this time of the year (weather permitting) is the pruning of the Raspberries. Mine are "Autumn Bliss", a late-fruiting primocane variety - meaning that the fruit is borne on the current year's wood (as opposed to the previous year's in a floricane).

Until the weekend, my Raspberries looked like this - a jumble of brown dessicated canes, with just one or two leaves left.

Pruning them is simplicity itself (as long as you wear a stout pair of gloves!). You just use a pair of secateurs to snip the canes off at ground level, and dispose of them. It's not considered good practice to compost the canes, because their hollow stems may be harbouring any manner of bugs and diseases. I put mine in old compost bags and take them to the Council tip.

So this is what the Raspberry area looks like now, with the canes removed and most of the soggy fallen leaves raked out:

The Raspberry plants are not visible, are they? However, they will soon put up new shoots and the cycle will begin again. Last year was a very poor year for Raspberries (for me, at least). I had a very small crop of decidedly second-class berries. I'm blaming the weather, as usual! This year will be better. (There, if I say it often enough I'll begin to believe it.)

Of course the removal of the Raspberry canes made it even more obvious that the Apple trees needed pruning too. I have one which is several years old now, a "Scrumptious" which is trained as a Minarette (kept very slender), but last year I got two more trees. One is a "Bramley", which is planted quite close to the older tree, (in the foreground of the photo above) and the other is a "Gala". The latter is still a very small sapling. Jane won it in some competition or other, and I just plonked it in a pot because I didn't plan for it and I still haven't really decided where to put it. "Gala" is apparently one of the most popular types of apple ever, but I must say it is not one that I would have chosen to buy. Maybe I'll just keep it in a pot on the patio.

Anyway, pruning... With a Minarette the aim is to keep the tree very thin by repeatedly pruning the branches to just a few inches long. You cut them back to just above a fruiting bud, like this:

When I came to this one, I was a bit unsure what to do. I really wanted to remove the bulbous bit above the two buds, but I was reluctant to risk damaging the buds with my secateurs, so in the end I just trimmed off a long thin twig growing vertically from the bulbous bit and left it like this.

Well the Apple trees are all done now, but I have left the Pear for another day. It is a bit bigger, and has masses of shoots, so it will be more time-consuming to prune. Maybe next weekend?

P.S. I drafted this post on Saturday, but since Sunday was a nice day with some sunshine for a change, I actually got on and pruned the Pear-tree as well, so now I'm all up-to-date with the fruit (and feeling all self-satisfied to boot!)


  1. I've got to trim my apple trees too in the front. I actually keep them trimmed all year long since I'm training them in horizontal cordons right now. It is their first year. And one tree doesn't have a branch in the right spot. It looked like it would have plenty of branches to choose from but they were all spurs. So I'm going to have to cut it back way down and force it to grow a branch where I want one. It will be behind the others in growth them, but it will catch up.

  2. Well done, my weekend is planned for raspberry & apple tree pruning. I did manage to give the gooseberries & pear trees a snip the other day though.

  3. Got my apple tree pruned, but must do the raspberries. In fact I might do that now. Thanks.

  4. Handy tips re the pruning Mark! I tried pruning some of my Autumn fruiting raspberries down to about a third as well as doing the rest to ground level as this is supposed to give a longer fruiting time. I can't really tell if it worked as it was our first year of looking after them- but we did have a long fruiting season and plenty of berries.....

  5. I've just moved my Autumn Bliss raspberries from my garden over to the allotment this afternoon.I cut them right down after replanting so I'm glad to see that I have got the method right.
    However you can grow them "half and half" ie leaving some of the first year's canes to fruit again as summer ones next year while cutting others right back to leave room for further first year fruiting canes.
    I did this last year but will now treat them as a fully autumn type given that I also have a row of summer varieties planted well away from them so that they don't get mixed up.

  6. I've just pruned my autumn raspberries too, although need to organise things better as both summer and autumn fruiters are in the same bed which gets a bit confusing!

  7. I still have to tackle the autumn raspberries but they'll be puppy dogs compared to the tayberry that I pruned at the weekend.

  8. My Autumn Bliss raspberries weren't much good last year either. I've normally pruned them by now, but I still have them to do. I nearly took them out a couple of years ago, because the Glen Ample summer fruiting ones were so much better, but in that really wet summer they did amazingly well so they got a reprieve. I've a feeling it may be a short one.

  9. Well done you! I've got a very old apple tree, a two year old apple tree, a four year old quince and a two year old plum and no idea how to prune any of them. The quince is really getting in the way so I will have to consult my book and have a prune!

  10. I had the same 2nd class berries as you, Mark, from my Autumn Bliss. I cut most of the canes to the ground but leave one cane on each clump at 40cm and I usually get fruit for about 3 months - prolific but not as tasty as I'd like. Like CJ, my Autumn Bliss canes will gradually get reduced in number as I replace them for something better - I'm thinking Polka, Joan J or Brice.


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