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Autumn Raspberry pruning

Hi again to all
At the start of the year, March 2018, I bought 5 Raspberry plants online, and opted for the Autumn fruiting variety Autumn Bliss. Ground prepared as required, and grew them in a two tier raised beds, (see photos). Grew well throughout the year so was expecting some decent raspberries from September to October
But other than maybe half a dozen decent sized fruit, with little flavour, the crop has been pretty hopeless. Small poorly formed berries, some that ripened, but were crumbling apart when picked. All in all, not the expected berry eating frenzy, that many nurseries would have you believe.
Now I do appreciate that the grower themselves is generally at fault here, but I'm not sure what I have missed, that might have improved the crop.
Just as a side note, I have to assume that the plants I received, were indeed Autumn Bliss. All I could say for sure is that they are, or at least should have been, cropping in the AUTUMN
Another thing to add, is that many nurseries make the claim, that you could grow autumn fruiting raspberries, with little or no support. Assuming I actually have the variety Autumn Bliss, I can say for a fact, that you cannot grow these without supporting the canes

What I really want to know is can I cut these back now in mid November .?  I know all the online pruning gurus, and gardening forums, advise leaving this until late Feb,early March.
I have come across a few gardening experts on line, who say they prune in mid Nov, without any ill effects. Since the cropping was so bad this first year, I feel have two choices. Either I can prune back now, and give them a second year, or I can rip them out and start in the spring with new canes or grow something else entirely.

You can see some berries still left on the canes, taste as bad now as they did weeks ago. NOT edible, and have just left them in case the wildlife are interested
Thats it, sorry about the long winded explanation, but sometimes once you start...
Your thoughts and ideas appreciated as usual


  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 6,430
    Yes you can cut them back now - right to the ground - if you want to. Don't rip them out - it's not been a great year for raspberries - they like cool damp weather and haven't had it. Newly planted ones are likely to have found it more stressful than established plants. So give them at least one more year before you abandon them. If you're going to cut them back now you should give them a decent mulch to protect the crowns but don't overfeed them - composted bark (for example) would be better than manure. 
    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • I'd definitely give them another chance. I also have some newish autumn rasps, not Autumn Bliss but Polka, planted in late 2017. They flowered and fruited very late -some of the fruits never ripened- and the crop has been poor. I think the weather has confused them and I'm hoping for better things next year. My summer rasps didn't produce a lot either.
  • As has been said ... it’s been a rotten year for raspberries and new plants will have really struggled .. they’re thirsty plants. 
    I agree with giving them a good mulch now.
    I’d prefer to cut them back in Feb ... it gives the old canes a chance to die back properly. 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • Yep, bad year for rasps in general.  The first year after planting is always a relatively poor  crop anyway as they won't have grown sufficient roots to support a large crop.  I do as Dove mentions and cut back to the ground in Feb., on the theory that the sap stored in the canes might still be being used to grow the root system, even if most of the leaves have fallen.  Perhaps you could cut them back by half now to tidy them up and then back to the ground in Feb?
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Mine are still fruiting  picked about half a kilo this morning.  They are happier now its actually  rained but the  fruits are much smaller and less juicy than previous  years.  I mulch with compost or manure in autumn  and don't  cut mine back.until spring but that's cause I have a ground elder problem  and need to be able to  see where the canes are!. Chopped ground elder and cardboard  are my summer mulch after I've sprinkled some fish,blood and bone around each clump of canes !
  • I have a few varieties including autumn bliss which didn't produce any fruit at all this year. My polka canes produced quite a bit of fruit and are still fruiting. In retrospect I wish that I'd gone for all polka canes. I do also have some autumn gold which have fruited ok this year.
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 7,705
    I only grow autumn fruiting raspberries (Polka at the moment) because I think they're easier to manage than summer ones.
    The term 'autumn fruiting' is a bit of a misnomer. They would be better called 'later fruiting'. Mine usually start fruiting in early August, peak production late August / early September and then a few berries until the first frosts.
    I cut mine down whenever I get the urge from October to February - doesn't seem to make much difference. I think it was Christopher Lloyd who said the best time to prune most shrubs and plants is "when you get the urge and have some secateurs in your pocket".
    That's not true for everything but echoes my rather relaxed approach to gardening🤭

    IMO autumn fruiters do need containing to stop the stems flopping everywhere. I now have a rather nice custom built metal support which is sufficiently ornamental to stay in place all year. But for many years managed by plonking in some strategically placed canes when the stems got to about 3' tall and winding some fairly strong twine round the whole patch to form a cat's cradle type of support.
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • Thanks to all for taking time to post thoughts and opinions, and sorry I am a tad late getting back online. I appreciate all your input, and accept that 2018 maybe not the best year for raspberries. So its a reprieve for the Autumn Bliss, and hope next year is much better
    As regarding the pruning, I think perhaps BobtheGardeners suggestion of a partial prune now, end of November, and standard full prune in Spring, might be the way to go for me. At least it will tidy up the plant bed.
    I will also do as most of you suggest, and put down a mulch of composted bark. 
       So again thanks to all for your posts, and hope to return every now and then with a progress update
  • Martin105Martin105 Posts: 15
    Well here I am back again, even more confused regarding my raspberry plants. I took a 2 tier approach to pruning the plants, cut them down in late November to about 2 foot, just to tidy up the mess,and since they are supposed to be Autumn Fruiting, cut them back to ground level, mid March
    Best to keep in mind here that these are supposed to be Autumn Bliss, at least that was what I ordered at the start of growing season 2018. 
    Now its 3rd week in July, and these plants are beginning to fruit, not many yet, but berries forming all over. Now its probably not black and white the exact cropping season, but surely autumn raspberries should be much later, perhaps a whole month at least.
         That's assuming that I am actually growing the variety Autumn Bliss. Just about every website that sells this variety, describe them as more compact and requiring less if any support. 
    These are growing to 6 foot for me, have tied some to stakes, and hoping they manage

    As I said, I am growing weary of raspberries even after just 2 growing seasons. I understand that growing fruit of any kind, can be unpredictable, but its hard not to think that you are dealing with another variety.
    All I can honestly say is that they are raspberries, but if last years crop is any guide, they will be bird food again

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391
    My Polka, which are also an autumn-fruiting variety, are currently flowering and some stems have fruit forming, so I think what you are seeing is normal (well, normal for this year, anyway.)
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
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