On our homestead we like to tie up raspberry canes after the snow is gone, but before the buds come out. We have had some debate around here about the value of tying up raspberries. It is a small time investment, but we have decided the benefits are worthwhile. Tying up raspberry canes keeps fruit off the ground, which means less rot or mildew waste. The berries also ripen more regularly. Perhaps the biggest benefit is improvement to the ease of harvesting. Picking raspberries is a labour intensive job. Having your canes spaced and held off the ground is helpful. It also means less scratches from picking through the prickly canes.
Get the pruning done first
By early spring raspberry pruning should already be completed. (see Pruning Red Raspberries to start if you need pruning info.) If you are pruning later in the season than tying up the canes can happen immediately afterwards. Just try to tie up your raspberry canes before they sprout leaves. Of course your raspberry canes should also be growing on a sturdy trellis.
Are you convinced? The method we use for tying up raspberries saves time, work, and waste, both at the beginning of the season and at the end.
Our simple method for tying up raspberries
We use baler twine that we re-purpose from our winter feed for tying up raspberries. You can use any sturdy string that will hold up to the weather. If you do use baler twine it helps to be conscientious about cutting where the twine is knotted when opening the bales. This means the knots will be at the end of the length when you use it for tying up raspberries (this tip courtesy of my Dad).
Begin by attaching your length of twine at one end of your raspberry trellis. We have tried following both the top and middle wire. My preference is for the middle wire, which may be counter intuitive (it was for me). I find it’s a little more stable and it allows for shorter, less sturdy canes to be incorporated easily. You may want to follow the top wire if your canes are particularly long, or tend to be top-heavy with fruit.
Once the twine is attached to the trellis you will begin to work your way along the wire, starting with the nearest cane. While you can tie a knot at each cane, it is as effective and much easier to simply secure the cane by wrapping the twine around (see step-by-step photos below). Tying up raspberries without knotting also makes it much easier to remove the twine at the end of the season.
Step-by-step photo guide
Step 1: Hold the cane against the support wire. Bring the twine alongside.
Step 2: Bring the twine over the wire and towards the back of the raspberry cane.
Step 3: Complete the wrap by crossing the twine over itself and under the wire.
Step 4: All done! Move onto the next cane.
Be intentional as you select which canes to tie—make those decisions based on your particular trellis. You will find that some canes can go on either side. It is best to space them as evenly as possible. Try to tie canes no closer than four inches apart, and aim to have them about six inches apart on average.
If using baler twine, simply tie on another length when you come to an end. This is one way that having the knots on the end is helpful. Keep enough twine ready at hand so that you won’t run out while working your way down the trellis.
That’s all there is to it! With your raspberry bushes tied up your patch will be ready to reward you with plump red fruit very soon.