Inherited Raspberries in a mess
I moved into my 3+ acres last summer and enjoyed the raspberries on plants I could reach. Most of the plants have not been pruned in years. I've never had these plants before, but desperately want to learn how to care for them and reap the benefits this summer. They line the NW side of my lawn and behind them are woods. I see some canes that are red and fuzzy now along with others that honestly are a jumbled mess. I've included photos of the NW beds and one photo of canes under a tree in our yard. First, which canes do I cut to the ground? Which do I keep? When can I prune them? Thank you!
Queen Anne's County Maryland
No doubt you'll be surprised to learn you have wineberry, not raspberries. (At least those are all we see in the photos.) Wineberry has red prickles so numerous that they are almost fuzzy. Raspberries, on the other hand, have much more widely spaced and fewer spines. The canes of black raspberries have an almost lilac-colored look.
Wineberries are edible, even tasty, but unfortunately have escaped cultivation and become a problem invasive plant since they are not native and replace native plants that wildlife need.
We'd recommend that you simply pull these out and plant a cultivated variety of red raspberry and/or black raspberry. Blackberries are great, too. As these brambles all fruit at different times, you can have fresh berries for months. (Black raspberries, then blackberries, then red raspberries.)
Here is our brambles webpage with selection and cultural info: https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/raspberries-and-blackberries-brambles
We'd be glad to help with further questions.
Thank you for this detailed and helpful response. Yes, I am surprised to learn they are not raspberries.
Yes- digging out as much of the root system as possible before new growth starts would be a good idea. Continuous cutting of plants at the soil line will eventually starve the plants. You can also cut the plants off a few inches above the soil line and paint a non-selective herbicide on the cut end. The chemical will travel down to the roots killing the root system.