It's easy. Relax. You've never been in better hands. Her name is Cass Turnbull and she's on intimate terms with anything that's ever needed pruning.
Cass is the founder and current president of PlantAmnesty, an organization I have been a member of for at least 13 yrs. I can just about recite its mission statement from memory but in the interest of accuracy, it reads:
To end the senseless torture and mutilation of trees and shrubs caused by mal-pruning.
What first attracted me to PlantAmnesty was its name. You gotta figure that an organization promoting plant (vs. human) rights knows better than to take itself too seriously. Not that topping trees and other pruning atrocities aren't cause for alarm, but since its founding in 1987, Plant Amnesty has consistently found ways to smarten us up about trees and shrubs and make us laugh in the process.
A case in point, from the most recent PlantAmnesty newsletter which features the art of pruning raspberries:
...the people from PETP (People for the Ethical Treatment of Plants) want me to let you know that fruits (and maybe nuts) are the only plant parts that actually want you to eat them.
C'mon, that's funny!
This is all to say that Cass's current column takes the mystery out of pruning raspberries. Here's the quick and dirty:
1)If you've got good old-fashioned plants, simply remove the old, dead canes. Those are the ones that are grey and woody, NOT bright, fresh green. First-year raspberries canes neither flower nor fruit.
2)If you've got "ever-bearing" or "fall-bearing" raspberries, simmer it down to one word: OY. As Cass writes,
My advice to you is to just do what's "obvious" by looking at the patch. Cut out the "finished" tops, and the completely finished, dead-looking canes to the ground. Or forget the cutting in-half part and just cut the completely dead ones out. Leave the live-looking ones. That oughta work.
Your two cents?