Growing Durham held a practical workshop on how to prune soft fruit on 8 February 2017. A last minute venue change meant the workshop was held on an allotment in Crook which allowed us to work on black currants, raspberries, red currants and gooseberries.
Raspberries are the easiest, providing you can remember whether you have summer fruiting or autumn fruiting raspberries. Autumn fruiting raspberries produce their fruit in this year’s growth, so everything that is still standing from last year can be cut off. Summer fruiting raspberries produce their fruit on canes that grew the year before and the canes that had fruit last year can be recognised by the old fruit stalks. In addition the old fruiting cane are now dead and should all be cut off, leaving just the new growth. If you’re not sure, you can test the cane by scratching a bit of bark off with your thumb: if it looks fresh and green underneath, it’s alive and should stay. If it’s brown, it’s dead and you can safely cut it off.
The others, black currants, red currants and gooseberries, all fruit best on relatively young growth, so the purpose of pruning is to make sure you have plenty young branches. You also want to try and make sure you have a slightly open centre to the bush (to help with air circulation) and avoid having branches that droop to the ground.