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Raspberry pruning

Raspberry pruningIn many sections of the world black raspberry as well as the red raspberry is extensively cultivated for commercial purposes and also for family use. When grown upon a commercial scale the plants are set in rows 6 or 8 feet apart and 3 feet apart in the row. With this style of planting and judicious pruning no trellis is necessary.

The usual plan is to allow the young shoots which annually spring up from the root of the plant to grow to the height of 2 feet or a little more. When the shoots have attained this height the first step in the pruning of the raspberry begins by breaking off 3 or 4 inches of the topmost portion of the shoot, leaving it 20 to 22 inches in height. The rapidly growing succulent shoots snap off easily between the thumb and finger, and as a rule no shears or other pruning device will be found necessary to accomplish this heading in.

As a result of the check sustained by breaking off the terminal bud, the stalk thickens, the leaves grow larger, the axillary buds near the end of the stalk increase in size, and soon lateral shoots develop from them. As a rule, five or six of the topmost buds push out and, instead of having one sturdy stalk several feet in length which would carry one half dozen fruit clusters near its tip the succeeding season, pruning has restricted its height to 20 or 22 inches and has induced the formation of five or six lateral, shoots, each of which may grow to be as much as 18 inches or more in length before the close of the season and, instead of a single cane for fruit production, there are five or six, each of which will carry as many fruit clusters as would have been produced by the original shoot had it been left to itself. Here, then, is an example of pruning inducing fruitfulness.

The second stage in pruning the raspberry consists in cutting out all the wood which is older than the present season's growth. This pruning should be done immediately after the season's crop has been harvested. If done at this period it is easy to distinguish the fruiting wood from that which has grown during the season, and by taking out all the useless wood at this time the whole energy of the root is reserved for the new growth which is to supply the crop next season.

For cutting out this wood a special implement is employed. A cutting edge is provided on the hook which reduces it to a hawkbill knife, and as well upon the chisel-shaped portion upon the back. In one case the implement serves the purpose of a brush hook on a, small scale and in the other, when thg chisel blade is used, it serves as a spud.

A third step in the pruning of the raspberry is shortening the lateral branches which have developed from the headed-in shoot. This work is usually done in the spring before or at blooming time, and is for the purpose of regulating the crop as well as reducing the wood so as to enable the cane more easily to support the fruit and to make the work of harvesting more easy.

From what has been stated it will have been inferred that the raspberry bears its fruit most abundantly upon wood 1 year of age, and that older wood is of little or no use and should be cut out for the good of the plant. There are exceptions to the rule, for raspberries frequently bear a few fruits upon the new shoots which annually come up from the root of the plant when those shoots are allowed to grow unchecked; but as this forms a late or second crop, and as it does not occur as a fixed habit of the plant but rather as a result of peculiar weather conditions, it is never taken into account in commercial raspberry culture.

The shortening of the shoots to 2 feet or less in height, together with the thickening which follows, renders them able to support a crop of fruit without the aid of a trellis.