How to Prune Bababerries and other Everbearing Raspberry Plants

 

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Bababerry plants along the driveway loaded with unripe raspberries. This photo is from a few summers ago, but I added it to show what the little raspberry patch looks like.

The past couple of years I have been received lots of questions via email regarding how to prune Bababerry plants, a variety of everbearing raspberry that grows well in Southern California and other low chill – warm climates.  Managing Baba raspberries is much the same as any other everbearing or fall bearing raspberry variety.  Most folks are able to pick fruit the first year they buy and plant an everbearing raspberry, including Baba. That is not the case on summer bearing raspberry varieties, which only produce on second year or two year old canes.  Since I am in the middle of my winter pruning chores, including pruning out the old wood on the berries, I figured it was a good time to take a short break and post something about it.

A new or first year cane on a raspberry plant is called a primocane.  A second year cane is referred to as a floricane or floracane.  Summer bearing raspberries only produce one harvest each summer and only on their floracanes.  Those two year old canes are then pruned out in late fall or winter, after bearing fruit. Everbearing varieties produce on the top half of primocanes the first fall, and then on the lower half the following Spring.

With all everbearing raspberries, the gardener can choose to have either one or two crops each year, depending on the pruning or management technique the gardener prefers to use.  Here at Hanbury House I often to prune to get two crops a year.  To do this, I prune out all the two year old canes to the ground each winter and just prune the top half of the primo canes from the previous season.  Although it is ideal to prune when they are dormant, if you are unsure what to prune at first, the chore can wait until the first new leaf buds begin break dormancy in early spring.

Usually I can tell which canes are two years old on my Babas just based on how the “skin” of the cane looks. The canes that are grey and/or really flaky looking are usually the old ones that need to be cut to the ground and completely removed. New canes usually emerge nearby. Any canes that are primocanes and produced fruit on the top 1/2 of the cane in the fall, usually look healthy and a medium shade of brown, with the top part being dried looking and sometimes has a few tiny barren side stems where the berries hung last fall.  They will also have new buds along the stem. I prune those canes down only about half way, to the point just below where the last berries grew or above where it looks like there is a live bud still.  Those pruned canes will bare fruit along the rest of the portion of the cane, usually in by mid to late Spring or early Summer.  Then, next winter, I prune the rest of that cane out as mentioned above.

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Bababerry Everbearing Raspberry Primocane needing to be pruned. I will prune right above the bud in the middle of the picture for fruit in the Spring or Summer.

The other method to manage everbearing raspberries is pruning all canes to the ground when the canes are pretty much dormant, typically sometime between the new year to early February, basically in the middle of winter. With this pruning method the gardener only gets one crop later in the summer or early fall, instead of two. This is the easiest method, and many folks prefer it, including my friend across the street that also grows lots of Baba berries. It is much less work, and a bit tidier looking. Either method, new canes usually emerge each spring around the base of the plant.

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Floracane at the end of the growning season on Bababerry. Notice how the cane is greyish and a little flaky. Some canes get even flakier. This is about to be pruned to the ground to make room for new primocanes on the raspberry plant.

Once a raspberry patch has been established for many years, the canes will have spread out and multiplied a lot.  Any canes that are outside the designated garden bed can be dug up and and used to start a new raspberry patch or shared with friends. The best time to divide and dig out canes, if you want the canes to survive the transplant, is in the dormant season.  If you are just trying to tidy things up, dig out the stray canes at any time of year. If you are still wondering if your raspberry plants are summer bearing or everbearing, here is short list of commonly grown varieties of each. I put an * next to varieties I have grown or my close friend across the street has grown at some point over the last two decades.

Everbearing raspberry varieties:

  • Anne *
  • Amity
  • Autumn Bliss
  • Autumn Britten *
  • Bababerry *
  • Caroline *
  • Dunkum
  • Heritage
  • Fall Gold
  • Indian Summer *
  • Kiwi Gold *
  • Josephine *
  • Polana
  • Rosanna *
  • Summit

Summer Bearing

  • Boyne
  • Canby
  • Latham
  • Meeker
  • Willamette

Bababerries are my favorite, and in my opinion, the best raspberry, out of the all the red raspberries varieties I have grown in our low chill Mediterranean climate.  I hope this helps those of you searching for tips on how to prune your raspberry plants.   If you still have raspberry questions, leave a comment and I’ll be happy to get back to you.

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Comments

How to Prune Bababerries and other Everbearing Raspberry Plants — 6 Comments

  1. Lianne: Thanks for such detailed information and pictures. You are a wonder. My grandmother (Baba) would be so proud that of all the berries you have grown you like hers the best. My patch that you sold me is thriving in my backyard and spreading out. It had berries until last month. I gave two plants to my friend in San Diego and hers are growing well too in a completely different climate. Now I know better how to prune. Thanks! I recently got a call from an American growing in Peru who wants to take some plants down there. Perhaps I should have him come see your patch next time he is in town?

    • Hi Erin,

      I am glad to hear your Babas are doing so well. A nice fellow edible gardening enthusiast, Kathy, out in the Devore area of San Bernandino, also says the ones that went to her house are doing well, too. It is amazing how they do well, in both cool foggy coastal areas and hotter less humid inland areas. I hope the thornless raspberries I am growing are just as resilient to extremes. I have yet to share them and test out what they can handle and what they really prefer. I only have about 12 canes on those so far in the two years I have been growing them, but considering I started with just a couple, that is not too bad. It will probably be a few more years before they need to be divided.

      A tour of my baba patch, at the moment at least, would be disappointing.

      This year it was our desert tortoise that decimated the patch. In past years, the tortoise has dug under either my thorny blackberry patch in the back veggie garden or under the compost bin to make her burrow. I blocked off the compost bin with pavers so it would not collapse in on top of her a few years ago.

      I don’t know why she didn’t head back to the blackberries this year as a substitute again. Instead she dug her burrow down the side of baba berry patch, taking out about 25% of it. My guess is she likes the stepping stones dividing the two sides of the Bababerries for sunning herself on. I am thankful the raspberries are vigorous and will bounce back, but there is a giant pile of dirt and a huge hole on top of part of the patch. Maybe I should snap a picture of that too!?

      I didn’t kick her out of the bababerry patch because it was an easy place to locate her when I wanted to feed her goodies from the yard or grab her to put her out of way when the gate would be open for long periods. However, water wise, it was a bad spot for her. It was right under the eves of the house and all the rain from the roof drains right down into the burrow. She is currently in the garage in her cat carrier until she is done hibernating for the winter. As soon as I am done with the berry patch clean up, I will back fill the burrow and try to steer her toward the blackberries in the veggie garden when she emerges from hibernation in the spring.

    • Hi Elaine,

      Yeah! I am glad to hear one of your pullets is squatting! Neither of my two cochins from that brood is squatting yet. However, yesterday I found an egg in the nest box that didn’t look like my black Silkie’s normal 1.3 oz bullet shaped egg, but neither did it look like Penguin’s 1.5 oz almost golf ball shaped egg. I was hoping it was one of the Cochin Pullets, not just an odd ball from one of the older girls. It was right around 1 oz. Eventhough my Black Birchen pullet isn’t squatting and I have yet to find her in the box, her comb is bright red and she is a little talkative. I am guessing it was her’s, especially now that you say her twin at your house is squatting. Thanks for the update.

      -Lianne

  2. Thank you so much for providing this information. I’ve been sifting through articles for “Low Chill” varieties. We have a very long season, but not much summer heat. This year I’m going to try Heritage, Anne, and Autumn Britten. I’m in 8b on the northern California coast. Again thanks,
    Jennie

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