Growing raspberries in eastern Ontario


I planted raspberry canes in spring 2021 and had a reasonable crop of berries in September/October. A handful each day for about three weeks. Then last year the berries never ripened! We had blossoms and tiny fruit but they never ripened, just died on the canes. I know now it was a weird year weather wise, very hot some months, very wet others. Now I just don’t know what to do this year. I watched many videos on pruning and read all the info on this site but none seem to address my problem. Do I cut back these canes to the ground? Cut them back by 1/3? I don’t want to have another disappointing year with no berries at all. Thank you!


Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners with your raspberry question. We want to help you have a fruitful season this year!

The weather last year could have played a role in the lack of harvest, but unless you didn’t mention it, it doesn’t sound like you pruned last year? It is advised to prune raspberries each year to achieve a successful harvest.

This resource, below, does an excellent job of describing the stages of raspberry branches (floricanes and primocanes) which both bear fruit at different times. They also include a seasonal checklist for each type of raspberry (red,yellow,black,purple).

Below, is another excellent resource on raspberries, but pages 9-12 describes how to prune based on the type of raspberry you are growing. 

Although you had a successful season in 2021, it doesn’t hurt to also look at the overall growing environment to see if there is anything negatively affecting your plants.

  • How much sun do the plants get in a day?
  • What type of soil do you have?
  • Is there good drainage or is it too wet?
  • Do you have irrigation and are the plants watered throughout the hot weather?
  • Are there any chemicals or fertilizers being used or stored close by?
  • Are there undesirable plantings (trees or shrubs) nearby that could be affecting your plants?
  • Are the plants healthy?
  • Did you feed your plants last year?  Raspberries are hungry plants that benefit from a good spring feeding with a balanced fertilizer 10-10-10 (N-P-K) or one with a higher content of Potassium (K) 10-5-15.
  • Are the leaves green?  Excessive foliage growth could be a sign of overfeeding with a high Nitrogen (N) fertilizer at he expense of berry production,
  • Are there any signs of insect infestation or infection (viral, bacterial of fungal)?
  • Are there other raspberry plantings nearby so there can be cross-pollination for your plants?  Under pollinated or partially pollinated flowers may not produce viable fruit that ripens.
  • Do you have a range of other flowering plants around so as to attract pollinating insects into your garden and fruit bed?

All these factors can alter the growth and development of plants.  In general, Raspberries thrive in full sun, rich well drained soil with a little care and maintenance.

Hope this information helps you determine a path forward.  Wishing you all the best and lots of berries in 2023.