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Why Won’t My Raspberry Canes Produce Berries?

Raspberries have a somewhat complicated pattern of fruit production. In general, it takes two years for a specific cane to produce fruit. It grows vegetatively the first year, fruits the second year, then dies. Meanwhile, new vegetative canes come up from the base of the plant during the second year. These will become the fruiting canes the year after the first batch of canes dies off. If the one-year-old canes are cut off or die back during winter, your raspberries will not produce fruit because you have no two-year-old canes left in the patch.

A twist on this system is that of everbearing raspberries. They grow vegetatively through the summer of their first year, and in late summer/early fall, the tips of the first year canes produce fruit. Those tips die off over the first winter, but the rest of the cane fruits the following summer, then dies completely. If you’re having trouble getting your red raspberries to overwinter, you might consider growing one of the everbearing types. That way you’d be likely to at least get a fall crop every year.

Your comment about the tips bending over and rooting also indicates that you may need to provide trellising or caging to keep the canes upright. I also wonder whether these plants might be black raspberries or blackberries rather than red raspberries. Red raspberries are less likely to bend over, root into the soil, and form a new plant. Black raspberries and blackberries, however, do so quite readily.

Raspberry canes last long time; plant good ones

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Question: I have had the same red raspberry canes for 21 years. How do you know when it is time to retire them and start some new ones? When is the best time to do this? What varieties of overbearing types would you recommend?

Answer: Are your canes still producing well? If so, keep them going. But if you think their berry productivity is going downhill or they seem to suffer from diseases or pests, then I’d get a new patch growing. Keep your old patch in production until the new one establishes itself; it takes about a year. Then phase out your old patch.

Choose a new planting area for red raspberries that is a sunny place with good drainage and slightly acidic fertile soil. If you have clay soil or bad drainage, consider building raised berms or beds for your new berry canes.

If you plant now through early spring, you can plant bare-root canes, which are cheaper than the potted canes available later on. Plus, early-planted bare-root canes establish themselves well and may produce some berries the first growing season.

Avoid planting raspberry canes where members of the nightshade family have been grown in the past, as they are susceptible to some of the same fungal diseases, such as verticillium wilt, whose spores survive in the soil for years. Also avoid the rose family, as raspberries are in the rose family and share dieases with other members of this family such as strawberries, roses and other caneberries.

Raspberry plant roots are perennial, living for many years. But the canes are biennial, living two years, then dying back. First-year-old canes are called “primo- canes”). Second-year canes produce flowers and fruits and are classified as “floricanes.” After the floricanes produce, they die back.

Since a raspberry patch is so long lived, it is smart to buy only certified, disease-free plants from a reputable nursery. Avoid heartache and resist the temptation to start your new raspberry patch with roots and young canes dug up from your old patch or a friend’s. You may be bringing diseases or pests such as root root, verticillium wilt or cane-borer with you.

Raspberries are of two types.

“Summer-bearing” means they flower all at once in early summer and produce fruit in one intense period. Summer-bearing varieties include ‘Willamette,’ ‘Meeker’ and ‘Cascade Delight.’ Commercial growers prefer these as they are picked all at once. If you freeze or make jam, it is nice to have a lot of berries at one time.

The second type of raspberry is “ever-bearing,” which produce fruit on the top portion of cane during the first year. Once this top portion produces, the lower portion of the cane produces later in the season. Also called “fall-bearing” or “primocane bearing,” these include varieties such as ‘Heritage’ and ‘Caroline.’ Fruit is produced on the tip of the first-year cane. Then the cane tip dies back and should be pruned off. The next year, the lower portion of these canes, now floricanes, produce. Depending on how you prune ever-bearers, you can have an extended period when the berries are produced, which is nice if you want some all summer long for your breakfast cereal.

A great resource to learn about which available cultivars perform well is “Raspberry Cultivars for the Pacific Northwest,” PNW 655. Search for it at catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu. This university research-based publication lists many varieties available, along with disease resistance and how well it performs in the region, along with photos.

To learn more about how to grow raspberries in your home garden including how to fertilize, water, trellis, prune, plant and care for your patch, download OSU Extension’s “Growing Raspberries in Your Home Garden.”

Carol Savonen is a naturalist and writer. She is an associate professor emeritus at OSU and tends a large garden in the Coast Range Hills west of Philomath with her husband and dogs. She can be reached at [email protected] orc/o: EESC, 422 Kerr Admin. Bldg., OSU, Corvallis, OR 97331.

Supporting Vining Houseplants: Managing Vining Plants Inside The Home

When they are young, climbing plants don’t really show off their beauty. At first, they tend to grow rather bushy. It’s cute, but in a hanging basket it’s really nothing to speak about. They develop long shoots as they get older. Once this happens, depending on the kind of plant, you can either let them hang down or set them on a table and place a stick or small trellis in the pot. Then they can climb up instead of hanging down. Don’t be surprised that some plants can be both climbing and hanging. Regardless, they all need some type of plant support to keep them looking and behaving at their best. Read on to learn more about managing vining plants inside the home.

Supporting Vining Houseplants

Wood, wire, rattan and bamboo all make great supports for climbing houseplants. You can get a trellis, spindle and even round arches. If you’re skilled enough, you can always make your own with a little wire coated with plastic or non-rusting wire. Whatever you use, be sure the supports for climbing plants are inserted into the pot at the time of planting. Thick stakes poked into the planting mix later will pose a threat to your established roots.

The soft shoots of climbing plants can be trained around the supports. Depending on the structure of the support apparatus you use, you can shape the plant into an orb, a pyramid, or even a heart. If you want the shoots to have better hold, you can fasten them loosely with string to the support.

How To Support Climbing Houseplants Indoors

Different vining plants require different types of support, so choosing a vining plant support will depend on the type of vine you are growing. Below are a few examples that can be used as a guide.

For round arch type supports, the following plants work well:

  • Passion flower (Passiflora)
  • Wax flower (Stephanotis floribunda)
  • Wax plant (Hoya)
  • Jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum)
  • Climbing lily (Gloriosa rothschildiana)
  • Dipladenia

For trellises or spindles, you can plant:

  • English ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Canary Island ivy (Hedera canariensis)
  • Chestnut vine (Tetrastigma voinierianum)
  • Grape ivy (Cissus rhombifolia)
  • Plush vine (Mikania ternata)

If you plant with moss poles or stakes, you can tie the tendrils of these plants up with wire lightly. These plants work best:

  • Philodendron (Philodendron)
  • Schefflera (Schefflera)
  • Arrowhead (Syngonium)

These are just a sampling of vining plants and some of the ways to support them in the home. As you study what is available commercially in your area, and you find what works best for your circumstance, you may find even more choices for supporting vining houseplants.

Training and Trellising Raspberries

Raspberry plants are relatively easy to grow. They are also hardy and productive in most parts of Iowa. If given good care, a 100-foot-long row of red raspberries can produce 100 to 150 pints of fruit. Proper training and trellising of raspberry plants help insure a good fruit crop.

Red raspberry plants should be maintained in a 1- to 2-foot-wide hedgerow. Remove any suckers that grow outside the hedgerow with a rototiller or spade. Do not allow red raspberries to develop into a wide, solid patch. Cultural practices become extremely difficult and crop yields are reduced when red raspberries grow into a large, dense thicket. Black and purple raspberries grow in clumps. The new shoots (primocanes) of black and purple raspberries need to be pinched when they reach a height of 36 to 48 inches. If allowed to grow unpinched, the canes grow long and fall onto the ground. These canes often root and produce new plants where the tips touch the ground. Tip-layered plants crowd the existing planting and make cultural practices more difficult. Any tip-layered plants should be removed.

Red, black, and purple raspberries can be supported with a trellis. A trellis keeps the canes off the ground. This is especially important when the plants are laden with fruit. The fruit on trellised plants are cleaner and easier to pick. A trellis also reduces crop losses due to storms and facilitates other cultural practices.

There are several different trellis systems. A two-wire permanent trellis is commonly used for raspberries in the home garden. Its construction requires wooden posts, No.12 or 14 galvanized wire, and 2- by 4-inch lumber. The wooden posts should be 3 to 5 inches in diameter and 6 to 8 feet long. Posts should be set 2 to 3 feet into the ground and spaced 15 to 20 feet apart. Near the top of each post, nail or bolt a 24- to 30-inch-long crosspiece. Then run or attach the galvanized wire through the ends of each crosspiece and down the entire length of the row. The two wires should be spaced about 2 feet apart and positioned 3 to 4 feet above the ground.

A temporary trellis may be constructed of posts and twine. Space the posts about 15 feet apart and support the canes with twine. This temporary structure is most suitable for fall-bearing red raspberries grown exclusively for the fall crop.

If utilizing a permanent trellis system, carefully pull and tie the canes of black, purple, summer-bearing red raspberries, and fall-bearing red raspberries (when grown for 2 crops) to the support wires after pruning in the spring. Use twine or cloth strips to tie the canes to the wires. Tying the canes to the trellis wires allows for better light penetration into the center of the row and promotes stronger shoot development. Also, harvesting fruit is easier because the tied canes are more accessible.

Okay, so you have raspberries, blackberries or other brambles… How do you control them? With a Bramble Trellis!

Given proper support and spacing, brambles will get enough airflow to avoid mildew, and allow better pest management (like picking off Japanese Beetles). You can solve these problems by building a bramble trellis. Here’s my history with raspberries, what I have built wrong in the past, and what I am building now.
When I first purchased raspberry plants several years ago (two No-ID plants from a yard sale) I had no idea of how they would grow, nor did I have Internet service back then to do any research. So I just plunked them in the dirt about 3 feet apart and 3 feet away from a hand-tied bamboo fence I was building. The following spring each plant had 2-5 new ‘canes’ coming from the roots.
By mid-summer those canes became 6 foot tall thorny beasties, flopping everywhere. I figured they needed some restraint, so I extended the bamboo fencing to the sides of the raspberries and also higher, making a “U” shaped area. The canes kept growing so I added a few bamboo poles across the top. I tied the raspberry canes to the top poles, and it wasn’t too bad… until the fruit got heavy on the canes and pulled the poles down. Over the next 3 years, more and more new canes grew until I had a thicket 4’ x 12’. It was so thick in there I could seldom find the old dried-out canes to cut them down, and picking berries every morning and evening ahead of the birds became a daily battle with the thorns.
Then I discovered the Internet and Dave’s Garden…. There was little or no information on fruits and nuts at that time on DG as the site was less than a year old. However, folks here sent me to some search engines where I found several trellis ideas to control brambles. Now, if you have only a few raspberries, you can get away with a pole or fence post for each clump, and just tie the canes to it. However, if you have very many raspberries and blackberries (or marionberries, juneberries, loganberries, lingonberries, thimbleberries, wineberries, boysenberries, etc.) then a trellis is very helpful, and makes sense to actually control runners and facilitate picking the berries.
The first trellis I built was out of pressure-treated 4×4 posts in the ground, and a 2×4 treated crossbar with a single wire up the center. I’m sorry I don’t still have those pictures from several years ago so I could show you what didn’t work very well for me. One factor I didn’t like about my first trellis was using a toxic material around something I would eventually eat. It is bad enough that I purchase food that could be contaminated without deliberately adding it to the food I grow.
I’m building another (and better) parallel trellis here at my new place. This trellis will afford sturdy support during the various stages of bramble growth, from new shoots through fruiting. A benefit to trellising my earlier raspberries was increased yields, which I expect here as well. I believe it was because the trellised brambles got much better air circulation and sun exposure; I had no signs of mildew, and few pests. The goal of this new trellis construction is to provide lower support for newer canes as well as support higher up for the current years’ fruiting canes. Also, to provide a place to direct emerging growth of new canes, or even a place to transplant wayward canes that escape into the yard.
Brambles are either primocane (they produce fruit on the new canes) or floricane (they produce fruit on last year’s canes) and I have some of each that came from various plant swaps and mail-order. My trellis is designed to accommodate both types since I’m not sure which is which at this time. (With primocanes, you can mow down the canes each fall.)
The trellis I’m building here is for raspberries, which are not as heavy on the canes as some bramble fruits. Therefore I will space my end poles anywhere from 15 feet to 25 feet apart. However, other types of brambles may fruit more heavily, so you will want to space your posts accordingly and/or alter the number and height of the cross members. My cross members will be attached at 16” off the ground, and 36” off the ground, screwed onto the upright posts so I can move them up or down, or add additional cross pieces as I gain experience with these brambles I have.
I have learned that I am not strong enough to tighten the actual support wires between the posts without tensioning clamps of some kind for the wires, so I chose to span 20-25 feet between poles and use turnbuckles to tighten the wires. The more expensive tensioning clamps would be nice but I can get by with just using turnbuckles, one per wire.
The end poles look like old-fashioned clothesline poles only shorter, with a second set of cross pieces even closer to the ground. For raspberries, my first cross piece and wire will be about 14” off the ground and the second will be about 36” off the ground. If I had blackberries, which generally have longer canes, I would place both support wires higher, maybe 4”-6” higher for the lower wire, and perhaps a foot higher for the top wire.
Each of these new posts will have 2 cross members, fastened at the height I want my support wires. Since I want the bottom portion of the canes closer together than the tops of the canes, my cross members will be 2 different lengths. The lower cross member will be about 2 feet long and the top member about 3 feet long. I will screw them to the posts I placed in the ground, allowing for later adjustment(s) in height.
Esthetically, I would prefer to use galvanized bolts rather than screws but since I am unsure of what brambles I may add to this ‘garden’ later on, I chose screws for versatility. Galvanized carriage bolts are less expensive than galvanized bolts with nuts and a lock washer, but with a winter of freeze-thaw cycles, they do get loose and eventually the inside lug (under the cap end) will no longer bite into the wood to hold them tight.

To begin, I marked the distance and dug the holes for the posts. Our freeze depth here is about 12” so my holes are 16” deep. I used 2 pieces of Western Red Cedar 2×4 screwed together for the posts. (4×4’s would have been nicer but no lumberyard locally carried them.) The tops are angled so rain doesn’t sit on the posts, eventually rotting them. I plumbed the posts, backfilled and tamped the soil in place.

Level the Cross-Pieces Plumb the Posts Close-up of Level Vial

Normally I would make a ‘soil cement’ mixture to set my posts but I may want to move these posts eventually. The soil-cement mix I have used in the past is half dirt and half Portland cement mixed together, dry. Add it to the post-holes, plumb the posts, and let rain or a trickle of water harden the mix. Since I didn’t use a soil cement, I have installed guy wires on each post (and might have done that anyway). They are anchored to the ground by a 24″ steel bar driven at an angle away from the posts, about four feet from the posts and secured with a wire and turnbuckle.

Next, I added the cross members at the heights I wanted, leveling each one as I went along. Then I drilled a ¼” hole for my galvanized eye bolts, and fastened the eye bolts through the cedar using a flat washer (so they don’t cut into the soft cedar) and a lock washer before tightening the nuts. This is necessary as the lumber will expand and contract during the winter freeze-thaw cycles and loosen the nuts without lock washers.
I used green vinyl-covered wire clothesline for my support wires, with a wire clamp at each loop of wire. One end of each wire has a turnbuckle with an open hook at the far end. (A turnbuckle is a small metal device with a hook or eye screwed into each end; one has a right-hand thread and the other has a left-hand thread. When the center piece is turned, both ends screw into the center, tightening whatever wire is attached to them.) This kind of turnbuckle allows me to either tighten the wire, or to take it down if I want to mow or do spring/fall clean-up inside the wires.

Eye Bolt Flat Washer and Lock Washer Turnbuckle

Instead of the wire clamps I used, there is a permanent fastener available (usually called a splicing sleeve) where you insert both pieces of wire into a 2-barreled short tube, and crimp shut. However, in my experience with this particular clothesline wire I’m using, the wire stretches even though the packaging says otherwise. Sometimes it can stretch by an amount greater than my turnbuckles can tighten. With the wire clamps I’m using I can loosened the nuts so the wire can be tightened by hand as the clothesline stretches, re-tighten the nuts, and then tighten the wire fully with the turnbuckle.
My neighbor who just built a fantastic grapevine trellis gave me some of the high-tension wire he used. With that wire, there is no stretching. However the wire was so strong that I could not even bend it nor cut it so I opted for the clothesline wire in the end. (In a rural area like mine, selection is generally scant at most hardware stores.)
You may notice in the photos that the top cross member is not centered on the posts. I deliberately offset them by several inches. There will be a second berry trellis row parallel to this first row, and those top cross members will be offset the same amount but in the other direction. This will allow a little more room for me to walk between the rows without taking up more ground-level space for the additional row.
Of course, it is not really necessary to use all the materials I did. You could easily use any fence posts, and any wire. You could just wind the wire around the cross members, too… no hardware required. Since my trellis is in my front yard, I wanted something that looked pretty even in winter when all growth is dormant and leafless.

Raspberry Canes To Be Transplanted into Trellis Red Raspberries! Berries on an old Single Wire Support

All that remains for me to do now is to transplant my raspberry bushes when the moon is in the right sign. As the canes grow, they will hang over the top wires but right now, they are too small. I am leaving the 3 black currant bushes already planted at one end of this trellis for the time being, as I hope next year to build a net cover over the whole shebang to keep the birds out. The currants are new this year too, but even so they produced about 2 cups of currants… which were there one day and gone with the birds the next.
If you enjoy having cane fruits in your yard, build a simple trellis to help keep your berries healthy and tidy.
Photo Credits: All photos are by the author except the red raspberries © Joe Cicak, #4602828 iStockPhoto.com, used by permission.

Spiced Raspberry Jelly
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine – June 1967
4 cups raspberries
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon mace
1/8 teaspoon cloves
Granulated sugar
In a saucepan mix together all ingredients EXCEPT sugar.
Cook the berries over low heat, stirring and crushing them with a spoon, until they are soft. Pour the mixture through a jelly bag, without squeezing the bag, and measure it. For each cup of juice stir in one cup of sugar and cook the syrup over low heat until a little jells when dropped on a cold plate. Pour the jelly into hot sterilized glasses and seal. Process for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath.
May be served as an accompaniment to roast meats and poultry. ENJOY!

25 Fruits And Vegetables To Grow In Acidic Soil

If you have acidic soil, defined as soil with a pH under 7.0, you might wonder which vegetables and fruit you can grow. Blueberries come to mind, of course, but unless you have very acidic soil, you can grow most vegetables and fruits. Read on to learn the soil pH requirements of common fruits and vegetables.

Acid-Loving Vegetables

Most vegetables grow best in a neutral or near-neutral soil pH, although they’ll tolerate slightly acidic soil. A few vegetables, though, actually prefer acidic soil. If you’ve got soil with a low pH, you’ll definitely want to plant these crops, which include:

Radishes. These fast-growing root crops thrive in soil with a pH between 4.5 and 5.5. Plant them in early spring or fall and give them full sun, consistent water, and well-draining soil. Harvest them when they’re young, because larger radishes become woody and hot.

Sweet Potatoes. These flavorful tubers are loaded with vitamin A. They grow best in soil with a pH between 4.5 and 5.5. Sweet potatoes need a long growing season and are difficult to grow in the north. If you live in a mild climate, though, you should have success.

Parsley. Parsley is a fast-growing annual herb that tolerates soil pH between 5.5 and 6.5. You can buy nursery transplants, but it grows quickly from seed. Plant it after the last frost in full sun and cover it with a light dusting of soil. Keep the soil consistently moist. In frost-free areas, you can grow parsley almost year-round.

Peppers. Peppers, including bell peppers and chili peppers, prefer a soil pH between 5.5 and 6.5. Related to tomatoes, they have similar growing requirements, including full sun, consistent moisture, and rich, well-draining soil. Plant them after the last frost.

Potatoes. Potatoes adapt to more alkaline soils – after all, they’re one of the main crops grown in southern Idaho, which is known for its alkaline soil – but they prefer a soil pH between 4.8 and 5.5. Plant them in early spring from certified disease-free seed potatoes.

Rhubarb. Rhubarb is generally used as a fruit in jams and pies, but it is technically a vegetable. This perennial vegetable grows best in soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. Plant it in full sun at the edge of the garden where it can grow for many years.

New Natural Fertilizer Doubles Garden Production!

Acid-Tolerating Vegetables

The list of acid-loving vegetables might be short, but many vegetables tolerate an acidic soil. They won’t thrive in very acidic soil, but most gardeners can successfully grow them.

Beans. Beans are a warm-season crop so wait to plant them until after the last frost. They grow best in full sun in soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0. Bush beans need no trellising and produce a heavy crop in a few weeks, making them ideal for canning. Pole beans need a trellis. They produce pods over a longer period of time. Over the course of the entire season, they produce three times more yields than bush beans, according to Cornell University. If you have room, plant both. Plant bush beans for canning and pole beans for fresh eating.

Broccoli. Like most brassicas, broccoli grows best in cool, but sunny, weather. It prefers a soil pH between 5.5 and 7.0. Plant broccoli in mid-spring or late summer for a fall harvest. If you have trouble with flea beetles or other pests, cover the soil with floating row covers after planting.

Cabbage. Another member of the brassica family, cabbage also tolerates a soil pH between 5.5 and 7.0. Cabbage needs a longer growing season than broccoli, but it also prefers slightly cool temperatures.

Carrots. Fast-growing carrots need light, well-draining soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0. Amend heavy soils with compost or grow them in raised beds. You might also want to select short varieties if you have heavy or rocky soil.

Cucumbers. Cucumbers grow best in full sun and light, rich soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0. Plant them in hills of three plants with the hills spaced 2 feet apart or in rows spaced 18 inches apart. If space is limited, trellis cucumbers.

Onions. Onions tolerate soil pH as low as 5.5, making them a suitable crop for moderately acidic soil. Plant them in spring from sets for fastest growth. They need consistent water and full sun.

Squash. Another member of the cucurbit family, squash also prefer a soil pH between 5.5 and 7.0. Summer squash mature in about 50 to 60 days. Winter squash need a long, warm growing season of 80 to 100 days.

Sweet corn. Sweet corn also tolerates a soil pH between 5.5 and 7.0. More important than soil pH is soil fertility, since sweet corn is notoriously greedy. Add lots of manure before planting and provide additional fertilizer during the season. Sweet corn also needs full sun and moist soil.

Tomatoes. Technically a fruit, tomatoes are subtropical plants that demand warm, sunny conditions. They need fertile, well-draining soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0. Tomatoes are prone to disease problems, especially in mild, humid climates. Select disease-resistant varieties and space them so air circulates freely.

Turnips. Turnips aren’t grown as often as they should be. These humble vegetables are valued for their roots, as well as their greens, which can be used like chard or kale. Plant them in rich, light soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0. You can lightly harvest the greens throughout the growing season and pull up the roots when they reach the size of a golf ball.

Acid-Loving Fruits

The most well-known acid-loving fruit is blueberries, which grow best in soil with a pH between 4 and 5, but there are many other fruits that prefer acidic soil. Try the following:

Blueberries. Blueberry plants make beautiful landscape shrubs, in addition to their culinary value. Plant them in an area that gets full sun, in moist, well-draining soil. Fertilize them with an acidic fertilizer.

Cranberries. These tart relatives of blueberries need moist conditions to thrive. They prefer a soil pH between 4.2 and 5.

Currants. Currants produce small, tart fruits that are ideal for pies, preserves and wines. They need cool temperatures, full sun, and a soil pH between 5.5 and 6.5. They also need consistent moisture.

Elderberries. Elderberries were once so common that early settlers considered them ditch weeds. The plants thrive in soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. Select American varieties rather than European varieties for best fruit production, and plant them in full sun.

Gooseberries. When you think of gooseberries, you probably think of very tart, green fruit and thorny plants. Newer varieties are sweeter and come in colors ranging from white to pink. Some varieties are thornless. Gooseberries need cool temperatures and a soil pH between 5.5 and 6.5.

Fruits That Tolerate Acidic Soil

Many fruits tolerate a wide range of soil pH, including moderately acidic soils. Try the following:

Apples. Apples don’t grow well in hot, humid climates, but they’re an ideal crop for areas with cold winters and mild summers. They tolerate a soil pH between 5.5 to 6.5.

Grapes. Grapes need five years or more to start producing fruit, but a healthy vine can outlive you. Plant grapes in full sun, in light, well-draining soil with a pH between 5.5 to 6.5. Trellis them and prune them every year to keep them healthy.

Raspberries. Raspberries are highly perishable and expensive to buy at the grocery store, but they’re easy to grow at home. They need consistent moisture, reasonably cool temperatures, full sun, and a soil pH between 5.5 and 7.0.

Strawberries. Commercial, conventionally-grown strawberries are among the most pesticide polluted crops, according to the Environmental Working Group – a good reason to grow them at home. They also tolerate a wide range of soil pH – 5.5 to 6.5. Plan to replace your strawberry plants every three years.

Growing Raspberries!

Table of Contents

  1. Overview
  2. Steps to Success
  3. Planting Summary
  4. Video Guides
  5. Quick Tips
  6. View our Raspberry plants

Overview

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Summer Bearing

These varieties carry one crop of berries on the over-wintering canes during the summer months. Plants begin fruiting in early summer, and the season lasts approximately 4-5 weeks. More than one type of Summer Bearing (Early Season, Midseason, Late season, etc) will be needed to have fruit for the full 5 weeks. The plants may begin fruiting in June or July, depending on the zone and the seasonal weather.

Everbearing (Fall Bearing)

These varieties produce two crops: the largest is borne in the late summer/early fall on the tips of canes that grew through out the summer. A second crop is then carried lower on those same canes early the next summer. To have two crops, the planting must be pruned as a summer bearer.

Most everbearers will produce the best crop if NOT allowed to fruit in early summer. We recommend this approach.

Steps to Success

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Step 1 – Plan your Space

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Red and Yellow Raspberry Plant Spacing

Dig a narrow trench down the center of a 2 foot row, with the roots trailing along the trench.

Plants should be spaced 18-24″ apart.
Rows should be 8′-12′ apart.

After 6-8 weeks, new canes will grow up from the roots.

When planting becomes mature, cut or mow any canes that grow outside of the original two foot wide row.

Step 2 – Prepare your Planting Area

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Preparing your planting area for Red and Yellow Raspberries

Raspberries grow best in well-drained loam or sandy-loam soil, rich in organic matter. If organic matter is required, mix in some well-aged compost or manure a few weeks prior to planting or in the Autumn prior to planting.

Build raised beds if your soil is slow to drain after a
rain, or if you have heavier soil or clay soil. Check soil pH. Optimum pH: 6.5 – 6.8
Do not fertilize too close to your planting date.
Mix ½ lb – ¾ lb 10-10-10 per 100 sq. ft. at least
2 – 3 weeks prior to planting or the Fall prior to planting.
Trellising is advised for all bramble crops!
Access to water is important. Plants will need irrigation
at planting and throughout the growing season.

Step 3 – Plant your Raspberries

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Step 4 – Harvest your Raspberries

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Step 5 – Maintain your Raspberry Plants

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IRRIGATION

  • 1″ – 2″ rainfall or equivalent per week throughout the growing season.

FERTILIZATION

  • Side–dress the row(s) with ¾ lb – 1 lb of 10–10–10 per 100 sq ft in the Spring Commercial growers should use 500 lbs per acre or fertilize according to soil test.
  • Occasionally test your pH and make amendments to keep the soil pH between 6.0–6.5.
  • Do not fertilize in the fall.

WEED CONTROL

  • Regular cultivation is necessary during growing the season.
  • Roots are shallow–don’t cultivate more than an inch deep.
  • Contact your local extension for chemical recommendations.
  • We do not recommend mulching your raspberry plants after the establishment year.

TRELLIS

  • We strongly recommend keeping plants supported by a trellis.

PRUNING

Ever–bearing (Fall–bearing) varieties

  • To have one highly productive Fall crop, mow or cut all canes to the ground in the early Winter or early Spring while the plants are dormant. Always leave as little stub as possible.
  • To produce an earlier crop as well as a Fall crop, prune as a Summer-bearing variety.

Summer-bearing varieties

  • After harvest, cut canes that fruited at the base of the plant. Leave as little stub as possible.
  • Cut weak damaged or diseased canes at the base.
  • Cut more canes if needed to leave 6–8 canes per running foot of row.

Click to print PDF of the Raspberry Steps to Success

Planting Summary

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  • 18″–24″ for reds and yellows; 20″–24″ for blacks
  • Recommend 8’–12’ between rows depending on machinery
  • Soak in water using Agri-gel™ for 1–2 hrs before planting except for TC plugs
  • Water thoroughly after planting
  • 1″–2″ rainfall or equivalent per week

Fertilization

  • Before planting add ½–¾ lb of 10–10–10 per 100 sq ft
  • Commercial growers should use 500 lbs per acre
  • An additional 1lb of 10–10–10 per 100 sq ft can be applied in July or August and in early spring in following years
  • pH: 6.0–6.5

Weed Control

  • Regular cultivation is necessary during growing season
  • Roots are shallow – don’t cultivate more than an inch deep
  • Mulching during establishments can help control weeds
  • Contact a local extension for chemical recommendations

Trellis

  • We suggest plants are supported by a T-trellis

Video Guides

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Our videos are written and produced by Nate Nourse and are aimed at your success. You’ll find all our Video Learning Guides in our Video Library.

How to Plant
Raspberries

How to Plant Blackberry and Black Raspberry Plants

Digging and Packing Nursery Mature Plants

Making Nursery-Mature Plants

Quick Tips

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Healthy berry plants require these important elements:

  • Early planting! Plant as early as possible in the spring. Snow or occasional frost will not hurt most new plants (green tissue culture plants excepted), and spring rains will foster growth. Planting in the fall is not recommended in the Northeast and Midwest.
  • A sunny, weed-free location with at least a half-day of sunlight.
  • Clean beds that are frequently weeded.
  • Well-drained soil. For poor drainage conditions, consider raised beds.
  • Proper soil pH. Matching soil pH to plant requirements can be a huge factor in your success. Sample the soil before planting and contact your local cooperative extension office for assistance.
  • Crop rotation. Avoid planting strawberries or raspberries in soils where previous crops have included strawberries, raspberries, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant or peppers. These crops may harbor the soil pathogens Verticillium, Phytophthora and nematodes and may affect your new plants.
  • Irrigation. Maintain proper moisture levels throughout the season and, most importantly, during the establishment period. Drip irrigation is imperative when planting in raised beds.

Avoid Common Mistakes

  • Read free planting guide 1-3 months before planting.
  • Plants will fail to flourish if roots are too deep or too shallow.
  • Pack soil firmly around the roots.
  • Do not plant near wild plants or plants whose origins are unknown.
  • Water well one to three times a week, not every day.
  • Avoid fertilizer burn by fertilizing only after plants are established.
  • Do not soak plants in water more than 1 hour!

Rasberries and blackberries: Establishment and management

Note Number: AG 0540
Published: July 1996
Updated: December 2011
Reviewed: July 2013

Cultural requirements

Raspberries require well drained, deep soil. They do not tolerate heavy clay soils, or shallow soils, or prolonged water stress. They can tolerate heat in summer, but hot wind will devastate new growth and economic viability. The floricane fruiting (spring and summer) raspberries require adequate winter chill to fully and evenly break dormancy in spring. They are therefore unsuited to coastal areas of temperate Australia, or any subtropical regions. The primocane fruiting raspberries have a lower chill requirement and will crop in warm temperate regions. The cultivated blackberries will grow on a wide range of soils provided that drainage is adequate. Their winter chill requirements are lower than floricane fruiting raspberries. The late season thornless cultivars have a high water requirement for adequate growth and will not perform well on soils which dry out in late summer.

Site selection

The general limitations to Rubus (raspberry and blackberry) production are outlined above. Provided that these conditions can be met, the site should be chosen firstly for protection and secondly for slope.

The site must have adequate wind protection. Under extreme conditions, wind damage is obvious, as broken laterals and tattered leaves, however losses are more commonly experienced before damage is obvious. Wind stress more frequently causes plants to appear unthrifty – leaves, canes, fruit and fruiting laterals are smaller than on sheltered plants, and response to fertiliser or irrigation is poor. Raspberries tend to produce excessive numbers of short thin canes in windy conditions.

The primary factor dictating row orientation is slope. Rows should be established up and down hills, and not across hillsides. Where the choice exists, rows should be oriented north-south, for even interception of sunlight. East-west rows will ripen earlier on the sunny side by up to ten days, and risk greater sunburn damage to fruit on the north-facing side. South facing slopes are preferred to north-facing slopes, to (1) reduce exposure to north winds in summer, and (2) reduce soil and air temperatures.

Frost is not a problem to Rubus crops, and neither is snow, unless it falls after bud burst and breaks canes. Loganberries, and the American thornless blackberry cultivars will all benefit from afternoon shade, as they are sensitive to sun-scald, which causes individual drupelets to turn pink and appear burnt, or cooked. Sunscald can affect autumn raspberries, but they are less sensitive than the late – season blackberries. Some commercial growers construct shade protection in the form of individual row covers, or alternatively mount shade cloth over entire plantings.

Gentle slopes are to be preferred to flat country unless drainage is perfect. Steep slopes cost money.

Plantation layout

The opportunity to plan a plantation entirely free of constraints rarely arises; usually, topography and existing farm features such as windbreaks, tracks and boundaries define some limits to future plantings. Where it is possible, rows for hand harvesting should be no longer than 70 m. If the field dictates rows longer than 70 m, rows should be broken in the middle to facilitate traffic between rows. Without such breaks, pickers may be forced to walk long distances. Depending on region, blocks should not be longer or wider than 150 – 200 metres, to allow for windbreaks. Where possible, favour square blocks, particularly on slopes where irrigation layout is complicated by pressure differences. On slight slopes or flat fields, a ratio of length to width of 2:1 offers an optimal compromise between efficient tractor use and trellis construction (both optimised by few long rows) and irrigation establishment and pumping costs (optimised at square blocks). For most berry growing enterprises, the most frequent need to move from one area to another will arise at harvest time. A berry crop may be picked over 6 – 10 times, and require 3 – 4 visits on each harvest day. It is therefore imperative that the shortest working distances be from packing shed to fields. Ideally, the packing shed will be situated in the middle of the blocks or fields of berries.

Leave headlands of 10 m by boundary windbreaks, and 8 m elsewhere.

Rows are established at spacing of 2 – 3 m. There are two considerations which determine row spacing, namely the machinery which must travel between rows, and secondly the influence of alleyway width on plant growth.

Tractors and 3-point linkage machinery such as sprayers are available to suit alleyway widths from as narrow as 2 m. Harvesting machines currently require rows to be 3 m apart. Raspberries will benefit from close row spacing, as the rows of established plants shade the soil and reduce soil temperature, and production per plant as well as per hectare is increased by narrow alleyways.

Blackberries cannot be managed at such narrow spacings, and they tolerate higher soil temperatures. The trailing blackberries can be managed at 2.1 m spacing, but the semi-erect blackberries require at least 2.4 m spacing, as the canopy of the semi-erect blackberries spreads wider than the canopy of the trailing blackberries.

Windbreaks

There are several good publications available on design, establishment and species selection of farm windbreaks, and the information offered here is solely an outline to direct consideration of appropriate windbreaks.

There are several regions of Australia where soils, rainfall and climate are ideally suited to berries but where few are grown, due to persistent wind. In such places, fields cannot be larger than 100 x 50 m before plants show wind damage. Yield suffers before damage is visible. There are very few regions where large (over 5 ha) plantings can be successfully grown without windbreaks. In a DEPI field site where plants were established in 120 m rows perpendicular to a large established windbreak, cane height was reduced by 40% at the windy end of the rows.

Windbreaks are designed as either boundary windbreaks of multiple layers of plants of differing heights, or subdivisional windbreaks of a single row of one species.

Boundary windbreaks usually comprise a tall species, such as a tall Eucalypt of 20 – 30 m height, an intermediate species such as a smaller Eucalypt or Casuarina, and a third row of a tall shrub such as an Acacia, Melaleuca, or Callistemon. Sub-divisional windbreaks are usually compact trees chosen more for density than spread, such as Eucalyptus nicholli. The New Zealand practice of using hybrid willows (Salixmatsudana x alba) e.g. “Aokaotere”, “Moutere” etc which require root and limb pruning has not been adopted in Australia, and the willow hybrids have not found favour because of their tendency to drop their leaves in late summer unless they are well watered. The most successful exotic for subdivisional windbreaks is Populus yunnanensis, the Yunnan poplar, which retains its leaves for longer than the more common European poplars, and does not sucker.

There are no universal windbreak species. Consult local tree planters to determine the species most appropriate to your needs. Windbreak trees should be regarded as a crop. They will repay adequate soil preparation and weed control, and usually benefit from wind protection themselves. When newly planted, protect with polythene tree tubes, up to 900 mm high, which are held rigid with stakes around young trees. Use the same pre-plant soil preparation as you would for a berry crop. Once the windbreak is 4 – 5 years old it will become self-mulching and weed control will no longer be necessary.

Soil preparation

The aim of soil preparation is to produce a weed-free soil of optimum pH, fertility and soil structure. The inputs and effort required to achieve this objective depend on soil type and history of use. The following notes refer to establishment from pasture. Soil preparation should commence at least twelve months prior to planting, to allow adequate time to establish:

  • complete eradication of perennial weeds, such as sorrel and couch grass
  • optimal pH of 6.0 – 6.5
  • optimal structure, via organic matter and timely working to a fine tilth.

A soil test should be used to determine whether liming is required, and the land ploughed and cultivated in conjunction with weed suppression measures. Several companies offer soil tests of differing levels of detail and price. Given the cost of fertiliser that can be wasted through ignorance, soil tests are cheap and excellent value. Check with local suppliers for registered herbicides appropriate for the weeds present. Once the crop is established, weed control is much more time consuming and dangerous to crop health, and in the case of some persistent perennial weeds it is never entirely successful post-planting.

Green manure crops should be established in the autumn or winter one year prior to planting the berries; obtain the Agnotes on green manures, or check with local suppliers to determine regional best practices for green manure crops. Cereals, lupins, ryegrass, and mixtures such as oats and field peas, or oats, peas and rape are commonly used. As a guide, oats and peas are commonly used at 50 kg peas plus 100 kg oats per ha, and rye corn at 50 kg/ha. Remember that a green manure crop must be grown as a crop to be at all useful; pH adjustment and adequate fertility must be achieved prior to planting the green manure crop.

Once the green manure crop is incorporated, the soil should be left fallow. If time permits, a second green manure crop can be managed between spring incorporation of the first green manure crop, and final planting. Annual rye grass can serve well in this situation as it matures quickly if sown in early autumn, and decomposes quickly prior to planting. Use the soil preparation at this time for thorough weed suppression, especially of troublesome perennial weeds such as sorrel and couch grass.

If animal manure is available, it should be incorporated before establishing the green manure crop, so that it is well broken down before establishing the berries. Rates of farm-yard manure as high as 70 tonnes/ha are used overseas where feed-lot manure is available.
In autumn of the establishment year, a further soil test should be used to determine the proportions of N: P: K to be applied pre-planting, and the possible requirement of additional lime. Lime should be applied in autumn, and incorporated. This cultivation will also kill weed seedlings. Fertiliser should not be applied at the same time as lime, but several weeks later, to avoid chemical reactions between lime and fertiliser which can lead to loss of N through volatilisation of ammonia. Apply NPK fertiliser as recommended by the soil-testing company and incorporate. All varieties will grow in acid soils, but optimum yields are attained at pH 6.0 – 6.5. In soils such as kraznozem soils, which “lock ” phosphate into insoluble and unavailable forms, some growers drill bands of superphosphate 300 mm on each side of the planting line prior to planting.

Given the high returns possible from raspberries, it is possible in some areas to ameliorate poor soils sufficiently to support raspberry production, through the use of lime, gypsum, and massive quantities of organic matter. However such an approach cannot economically support production for sale through wholesale markets. Heavy clay soils can, with much amelioration, support good growth of raspberries, but plantings tend to be short-lived as organic matter decays and the soils gradually compact.

Planting material

It is important that only healthy stock should be used to establish a plantation. The Agnote Raspberries and cultivated blackberries: use of healthy planting material outlines the reasons for the establishment of the Rubus multiplication scheme currently managed by the Australian Rubus Growers Association. Multiplication from established blackberry stock is simply achieved by covering canes with a 50 mm layer of stable manure in autumn and allowing roots and new shoots to develop at the nodes, or alternatively by simply allowing cane tips to form roots and new shoots where they touch the ground. Tip-plants are dug in late winter. Raspberries are propagated either by breaking up old crowns, or by digging suckers along the rows of established plants. Before propagating your own plants, ensure that the stock plants are not subject to any law or contract restricting propagation; many Rubus cultivars are sold under commercial contracts which specifically forbid self-propagation. Most Rubus plantings will last over ten years in good soils, so it pays to start with stock of the highest possible quality, even if the initial price is higher.

Bed preparation

Blackberries

It is conventional practice on well drained soils to grow blackberries without hilling. If in doubt, hill beds rather than plant on a flat unhilled bed.

The alternatives are to: grade the plantation into a “saw-tooth” bed structure, which will facilitate mowing between rows, or (2) to plough up raised beds, and leave the alleyway flat for either mowing or tilling to control weeds. The saw-tooth land form is more commonly seen in orchards, and is achieved by ploughing on to the bed centre with a disc plough, and following with a grader blade. Raised beds are formed using a Merbein plough, or bed former. If polythene mulch is to be used, it is generally applied over raised beds. Both land forms aim to raise the top of beds, at the planting row, about 300 mm above the lowest point at the centre of alleyways. All options have their limitations, and the choice depends on soil type, topography, rainfall patterns and intended harvesting methods. It is advisable to discuss these options with established growers in your area, or a similar region.

Blackberry plants are established at 1.5 – 2 m spacing in rows 2 – 3 m apart, dependent on the machinery to be used for subsequent management operations. Once established, they need protection from weed competition and water loss from the soil surface. This is most effectively achieved using black polyethylene mulch film, similar to that used for strawberry production. The alternatives are: woven polyethylene fabric, which has a longer life but costs much more; straw or stable manure mulch, which is entirely beneficial but very expensive in labor costs; or bare soil, kept bare by chemical or mechanical weed control.

Polyethylene can be laid by hand, but for larger areas a tractor -mounted machine is preferable. The machine can be hired from some polyethylene suppliers or a contractor may be hired to form and mulch the beds. Where polythene is to be used, beds should be formed and rolled several weeks before applying the mulch film, to allow soil to consolidate so that the mulch film will remain tight.

Some growers avoid polythene mulch due to the problem of removal and disposal once the material begins to disintegrate; the savings in weed control must be assessed before embarking on this strategy.

Raspberries

Bed shape can be either “saw tooth” as described above for blackberries, or raised beds with flat alleyways. The latter method is more common, and preferable for mechanical harvesters. Raspberries are grown in some soils without hilling at all, however the current concerns regarding root rots and the insurance offered by raised beds may see hilling become the norm.

Raspberries are not normally grown through black polythene mulch. In cool climates this practice is very cost-effective for 3 – 4 years, but then presents the complication that the plastic deteriorates, leaving a mass of roots exposed , which sucker profusely and show unusually shallow soil penetration, and are thus prone to drying out. In warmer climates, black polythene has the additional disadvantage of heating the soil beyond the optimal soil temperature for raspberry roots of 16 degrees. Other forms of mulch such as straw can be used; they are expensive to handle due to the volume required, but are effective in retarding soil moisture loss, and suppressing weed growth. Nitrogen (N) is tied up in microbial decomposition of some organic mulches, and made temporarily unavailable to the crop; beware of creating a N deficiency through the use of mulches deficient in N such as sawdust, without adding a supplement.

Planting

Planting is carried out in July – September. Planting distance is dependent on variety and trellis system to be used; see the agnote Cultivated blackberries: pruning and training. Conventional 1.8 x 2.7 m spacing requires 2050 plants per hectare. Plants should be buried to the same depth at which they grew in the nursery.

Planting holes can be cut in black polyethylene mulch film with a sharpened tin, or sharpened piece of 100 mm water pipe, or burnt with a proprietary gas-powered burner. The object of cutting a neat hole is to avoid sharp corners or simple slits, which provide a focal point for tension, and subsequently allow tearing of the mulch film. Rooted cuttings should be trimmed back to two buds. Reject any thornless Boysens, Logans or Youngs which have reverted to the thorny forms. Where polythene mulch is not used, pull a furrow and plant into the furrow, and smooth the surrounding soil when the new plants are in position

Raspberry canes are buried to the same height as they grew in the nursery (recognised by soil on the plants). It is normal practice to leave the “handle”, or short piece of cane, attached to the root system, although its yield is of no value. Some growers prefer to cut the handle off the roots once the canes are established in the planting furrow, however no advantage has been demonstrated for either removing or retaining. Raspberries can also be established from root pieces alone, and from small suckers.

Spacing depends on preferred management options; for hedgerows, canes are planted at 250 – 300 mm spacing, and for stoolbeds at 600 – 800 mm. Refer to the Agnotes Raspberries: cane management of maincrop cultivars for discussion of these options for spring –summer cropping raspberries. The autumn-fruiting raspberries are established as hedgerows.

Planting density depends on the expected yields in the first fruiting season; by the second fruiting season, a well-grown plantation will have achieved optimal cane density through the natural propensity of raspberries to”fill in the gaps”. To achieve high yields in the first fruiting season, stoolbeds (separate crowns, as distinct from a continuous row of canes) are established using two canes at each planting site. At 3 m row spacing, one hectare comprises 3300 m of row, which requires 3300 x 1/0.6 (the 0.6 = crowns at 600 mm or 0.6 m spacing) = 5500 crowns per ha. At 800 mm spacing, there are 4125 crowns per ha. The economics of using one or two canes per crown are strongly influenced by local conditions; there is no overall correct practice. In some regions, establishment is always slow, and two canes per crown will not result in rapid establishment; in others, establishment is so rapid that two canes per crown are unnecessary.

Autumn -fruiting cultivars are planted at 250 – 300 mm spacing, at one cane per site. At 300 mm spacing , one hectare will require 3300 x 1/0.3 = 11,000 canes. You should determine current best practice for your area before ordering canes.

Trellis construction

Refer to the Agnotes, Raspberries and Cultivated Blackberries: trellis construction for notes on the principles of trellis construction. Specific details for each crop are discussed in Raspberries: cane management and Cultivated blackberries: pruning and training.

Irrigation

Overhead sprinkler irrigation can be used where water and pumping costs are minimal, and is preferred for late season varieties grown on light soils with low moisture retaining capacity. In all other circumstances, microspray or trickle irrigation are the preferred choices.
The design of trickle irrigation systems is discussed in the Agnotes related to design of Low-flow irrigation systems. Most major suppliers of irrigation equipment operate a design service.

Water application should be governed by tensiometers, which are purchased from irrigation suppliers. Where drippers are used in conjunction with black plastic film, drippers should be situated between plants as well as at crowns; water can be led under the black plastic by means of extension tubes to which are fitted button drippers. Where in-line drippers are preferred, the irrigation line will need to be laid underneath the plastic, as for strawberries.

During peak demand, a plantation may require 4 litres per hour per metre of row for up to 8 hours per day. Inadequate watering will result in reduced fruit size plus reduced growth of new canes, and a subsequent loss of potential yield in the next season.

Fertilising

The principle behind fertilising is to replace those elements removed as fruit plus those elements, which are tied up in canes, and subject to a slow recycling process. The balance required should be determined by leaf analysis in February but will in general involve approximately equal proportions of NPK. The quantity will depend on local factors, but will usually be from 50 to 100 kg a.i. N (active ingredient Nitrogen) per hectare. As an example, 100 kg a.i. N as NPK – 8:11:10 would require 1250 kg/ha or 400g/m of row. Inappropriate fertiliser practice can waste much more money than is saved by not paying for leaf analysis.

Inorganic fertilisers are usually applied in split applications, starting in August – September, and again in November – December. Autumn-fruiting cultivars are sometimes “topped up” with side-dressings during fruiting in February – March. Excessive rates of N will cause fruit to become soft; lack of fertiliser will reduce fruit size. Do not fertilise too late into the growing season or cane growth will remain soft until winter, risking winter injury from frost and in some cultivars, reduced spring bud burst through failure to become dormant early enough in winter to accumulate winter chill. Where drip irrigation is used, fertiliser can be added via the irrigation system. This practice is sometimes known as “fertigation”. It offers the most precise and continuous form of fertilising. There are few elements, whose solubility in well-managed soil that would otherwise support Rubus crops, is so low that they require to be applied as a foliar spray. Check the unit price of each element in foliar nutrient sprays before embarking on foliar nutrient application.

Organic manures should be applied in August to allow time for decomposition to release nutrients to plants. Where organic manures are used as a mulch, more than one source or form may be required to avoid imbalance and subsequent loss of potential yield.

Do not apply NPK fertiliser only into planting holes where black plastic mulch is used; it can be broadcast along the edges of the mulch and allowed to leach into the root zone of the plants.

Weed control

Weed growth in planting holes is minimised by the use of mechanical tillage, and/or herbicides, prior to bed formation, when the field is bare of crop plants. The importance of pre-planting weed control cannot be overemphasised, as once the crop is planted the problem of weed suppression is more difficult. Weed control in the absence of polythene mulch is more difficult; there are no post-emergence herbicides currently registered for use with Rubus plants which may safely be sprayed on the crop. Consult your farm chemicals supplier for herbicides which may be used around Rubus crops.

There are no pre-emergence herbicides registered for weed suppression immediately after planting the crop.

Glyphosate is registered for use around raspberry crops over three years old, but extreme care must be used not to spray the crop. In the relatively mild winter conditions of Australia, Rubus plants never achieve a sufficiently deep dormancy to be unaffected by systemic herbicides. The difficulty lies in avoiding small semidormant shoots at ground level; these shoots will translocate glyphosate to the mother plant and cause considerable damage.

Alleyway management

Where crop plants are mulched with polythene, alleyways are generally maintained as grass sward. There is some interest overseas in evaluation of the most appropriate species for alleyway cover, based on considerations of green manure value, competition for moisture, ability to suppress weed growth, and possible allelopathic effects on soil-borne pathogens (allelopathy refers to the ability of some plants to inhibit the development of other animal or plant species, for example by exuding toxins). Current practice in Australia is to mow whatever comes up.

Where crops are established without polythene mulch, alleyways are generally maintained bare unless mechanical harvesting is practiced, in which case the planting rows are maintained bare and alleyways are maintained as grass sward, to prevent dust. It is easier to walk on grass sward than disked or rotary hoed earth, especially after rain. Take care that inter-row species, either sown or volunteer crops, do not act as hosts for pests. Two-spotted mites and light brown apple moth both have wide host ranges. Do not rely on rotary hoeing alone to maintain bare alleyways, or eventually a pan will develop at the level where the rotary hoe tines cut and form a glazed layer under the soil surface. Alternate with off-set disc harrows, or a scarifier.

Acknowledgements

This Agriculture Note was developed by Graeme McGregor, FFSR in 1996.

It was reviewed by Mark Hincksman and Neville Fernando, Farm Services in December 2011 and July 2013.

Choosing a Location for Raspberry Plants

The best way to succeed is to plan before you plant. Concerning location: do you know where you want to plant your new raspberry plants? Avoid future obstacles by considering all aspects of the planting site, such as:

  • Cross-pollination
  • Sun and good soil
  • Surroundings
  • Spacing

NOTE: This is part 3 in a series of 11 articles. For a complete background on how to grow raspberry plants, we recommend starting from the beginning.

Cross-Pollination

Most raspberry varieties are self-pollinating (or self-fertile), meaning your raspberry plants will fruit when they mature, without requiring the availability of another raspberry variety’s pollen. If you are growing all the same variety of raspberry, your plants will have a fruit crop. Similarly, if you are growing several different varieties of raspberry, you may have a larger fruit crop, as is the nature of most cross-pollinated fruit.

Sun and Good Soil

Raspberry plants thrive in a growing location that receives full sun and has a well-drained, fertile soil. Full sun is at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight during the growing season. Light is vital to fruit production and fruit quality, and also helps minimize the risk of fungal issues, so this is an essential part of choosing a location for your raspberry plants.

A well-drained soil will help keep a raspberry plant’s roots healthy and free of rot. Because raspberry plants are rhizomes, they send up new canes from the roots, so root health is especially important for raspberry plants. If your native soil is composed of heavy clay that retains water after rainy weather, first look for a different planting site for your raspberry patch. Similarly, if your site has fast-draining, sandy soil, the raspberry plants may exhibit water-related stress (similar to conditions of drought) and may require more-frequent watering. For your growing success, we do not recommend planting raspberry plants in rocky or heavy, pure-clay soils. If you can’t plant elsewhere, you can try amending the soil of your planting site prior to planting your raspberry plants.

Soil amendments greatly depend on your individual location, so communicating with your local county cooperative extension is recommended. In general – to help with water distribution – you can add coir, like our Coco-Fiber Growing Medium, to your raspberry planting hole, or mix in one-third sphagnum/peat to the soil at planting time. Sphagnum/peat can lower the soil pH, so if your soil pH is already lower than raspberry plants tolerate (6.0 – 6.8), this may not be the best option.

Alternately, to avoid directly dealing with your native soil, you can try planting your raspberry plants in containers. Start with a pot that accommodates each raspberry plant’s current root system (with room to grow). Most new raspberry plants can be planted in a 3-gallon container to start, and you can move container-grown raspberry plants into larger containers as the plants outgrow them.

Even if your yard isn’t the most ideal location, take heart. Raspberry plants can be very adaptable and they respond well to soil additives like compost or fertilizers, so they can get along well even where the soil is nutritionally poor. Just remember to avoid planting sites with extremely heavy soils and poor drainage and ensure they have the necessary full-sun requirement.

Surroundings

A home raspberry planting can be a landscaping asset, so choose a planting site with this in mind. Imagine your raspberries as full-grown plants and observe the surroundings:

  • Are there cables, pipes, or other lines and utilities you should avoid underground?
  • Is there a sidewalk or foundation within the range of your raspberry plant’s roots?
  • Might your raspberry plant block the view of something you want to see once it’s fully grown?
  • Will neighboring trees be in the way or block sunlight from your raspberry plants as they grow?

Even a year or two after planting, a raspberry plant can be very difficult to move with stress-free success, so take the time to plant in just the right place the first time around.

Spacing

Ordinarily, planting raspberry plants near structures like patios is not problematic because the soil beneath them is dry and compacted. The raspberry’s roots will not be as encouraged to grow into this area; however, it’s better to plant with at least 4 to 5 feet of space between these structures and your raspberry plants. A safe distance is somewhere beyond your raspberry plant’s estimated maximum spread. By planting raspberry plants far enough away from man-made structures, you can avoid problems in the near or distant future.

Space Between Plants

Depending on the variety you choose, the spacing may vary. As a general rule, most raspberry plants naturally grow (or can be maintained with pruning) within a 4 to 5 foot range, both tall and wide. Use the raspberry plant’s mature width as your guide for spacing between plants.

  • Plant raspberry plants 3 to 5 feet apart with spacing between rows 6 to 8 feet apart.
  • Do not plant Red, Gold or Purple raspberries within 75 to 100 feet of black raspberries. Black raspberries may be more susceptible to viral diseases carried by aphids to and from nearby raspberry plants.
Space for Future Plantings

When you’re new to fruit gardening and growing raspberry plants, or you’re planting in a location that is new to you, it’s wise to start with just a few raspberry plants. Later on, especially after you have reaped the rewards of growing your own raspberries, you may want to expand your home raspberry patch. If you plan ahead and leave room for additional berry plants, or even fruit trees and other garden plants, then the space will be available when you are ready to expand, without hindering the growth and development of your existing raspberry plants.

In This Series

  • Introduction

Getting Started

  • Acclimate
  • Location
  • Planting
  • Soil Preparation

Care & Maintenance

  • Fertilizing
  • Pest & Disease Control
  • Pruning
  • Spraying
  • Watering

Other Topics

  • Harvesting

I love growing annual veggies, but raspberries provide a nice break from the needy vegetable garden.

A few years ago, I bought two everbearing ‘Red Heritage’ plants and planted them in the spring. By fall, I had my first modest harvest.

And in just the second season, I harvested a couple of handfuls of fruit every day from July through October – all from two plants.

Now, I love watching new growth spring up from my small raspberry patch each year.

And I mean small. With less than a quarter of an acre to work with, I plant sparingly.

I’ll be making more room for raspberries soon, though. They require very little of me, and yet, they give so much.

And nothing is sweeter than seeing my toddler take a break from swinging to find the biggest, reddest berries to munch on!

So what do you need to know if you want the best harvest? Pruning and trellising should be your main areas of focus, and we’ll cover both.

With very little overall effort, you can expect to get a good harvest from the same group of plants for 15 years or more, which is amazing!

How to Grow Your Own Raspberries

  • Choosing Your Plants
  • Terminology and Plant Types
  • Plant Care
  • Pruning
  • Trellising
  • Pests and Diseases
  • Harvest and Recipe Suggestions
  • What’s Stopping You?

Read on to learn more about growing raspberries – because who doesn’t want to enjoy homegrown and freshly picked fruit on a hot summer day?

Choosing Your Plants

There are a ton of raspberry varieties available, so you’ll want to do your research beforehand.

Varieties range in flavor, growth habit, fruit color, and cold hardiness. So know your growing zone and don’t rush your decision.

I chose everbearing ‘Red Heritage’ because they don’t need much support, and stay relatively manageable. They are also delicious.

Chances are you’ll have these plants in your yard for years to come, so make sure you choose the ones you want.

Terminology and Plant Types

Raspberry varieties fall under one of two types – everbearing or summer bearing.

Before I describe these in more detail, it’s helpful to understand some basic terms.

First, canes refer to the stems that grow from the base, or crown, of the plant.

Primocanes – first year canes – on ‘Red Heritage.’ Photo by Amber Shidler.

Primocanes are first year canes that spring up from the ground every year. They are fast growing, young green shoots.

Floricanes are second year canes. They typically turn brown and develop a woody appearance. Instead of putting all of their energy into producing leaves like primocanes, floricanes produce flowers and then fruit.

So now, more about the two types:

Everbearing

These types fruit on floricanes, the second year canes, in the summer between June and July. But they also fruit on primocanes, or first year canes, in the fall. So you get two harvests!

Summer bearing varieties fruit on primocanes only, usually around July.

Floricanes – second year canes – on ‘Red Heritage.’ Photo by Amber Shidler.

Once a cane bears fruit completely on either type, it will die off, at which point you can cut it back to the ground.

Plant Care

Wild raspberries grow throughout the United States. So it’s no surprise that cultivated varieties are pretty adaptable, and most are hardy in zones 2 through 7.

Most raspberries are sold as dormant canes. In their second year, canes reach a minimum of four feet, with a number of varieties growing much taller.

Choose the right location and prep it well before planting. Hopefully your plants will be around for decades, so choose wisely!

Pick a spot in full sun to partial sun. If you live in an area with really hot summers, part sun may be a better bet.

You can get plants in the ground as soon as the soil is workable.

Getting a soil test is always a good idea before planting. Raspberries prefer fertile, well draining soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5.

A soil test will give you a starting point for amending the soil.

Well draining soil is crucial, as raspberries are susceptible to root rot and will not tolerate wet feet.

Amend soil with rich, organic compost to improve drainage and nutrient composition, especially if you’re dealing with heavy clay.

Adding a layer of organic compost in the late fall is a great boost for the coming spring.

Once established, a balanced fertilizer tailored towards fruiting shrubs with an N-P-K ratio of 10-10-10 can be used.

The best time to apply fertilizer is in the early spring, when primocanes start emerging, and again in late spring to early summer.

Raised beds are a good option as well, since you can control soil material and ensure better drainage.

Otherwise, mound the soil 4 to 6 inches high to create a hill. Doing this will raise the canes a bit, and further improve drainage.

Space plants a minimum of 24 inches apart in a row. And keep in mind that it’s best to keep rows less than 24 inches wide.

This means removing all canes that venture out past a certain point.

Newly ripening fruit. Photo by Amber Shidler.

It’s a lot to keep in mind, I know! But your raspberries will be way easier to harvest and prune than they would be if left to their own devices, and they will be a lot less susceptible to disease as well.

You’ll want to dig up any suckers that grow outside of the row. The good news is that you can replant the suckers in a new spot, and grow even more raspberries!

Keep different varieties in separate locations or rows. If you mix everbearers and summer bearers, you’ll have a hard time pruning once they fill in.

I caught this bumble bee, pollen sacs and all, pollinating the raspberry flowers. Photo by Amber Shidler.

Raspberries are technically self-pollinating, but bees and other pollinators play a really important role in improving pollination and overall fruit production.

Water plants well until they are established, and also during drought. As a general rule, plants should get about one inch of water every week.

If you don’t have one already, pick up a rain gauge. This device makes it easy to know when your garden needs supplemental watering.

Pruning

In the fall, once plants bear fruit and leaves begin to die back, cut all floricanes to ground level.

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Photos by Amber Shidler © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Uncredited photos: . With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

About Amber Shidler

Amber Shidler lives in Cincinnati, Ohio and holds a dual bachelor’s degree in botany and geography. For four years she worked as a horticulturist, but is now a stay-at-home mom. With experience in landscape design, installation, and maintenance she has set her sights on turning her tenth-of-an-acre lot into a productive oasis. Amber is passionate about all things gardening, especially growing and enjoying organic food.

How To Plant Raspberries: Care Of Raspberry Plants

Growing raspberry bushes is a great way to make your own jellies and jams. Raspberries are high in Vitamin A and C, so not only do they taste great but they’re good for you as well.

How to Plant Raspberries

If you want to know how to grow raspberries, you should first know that raspberries ripen shortly after strawberries. They prefer a sandy loam soil that is rich in organic matter. The soil should be well drained and have a pH of about 5.8 to 6.5.

Growing raspberries bushes also prefer sunshine, so they should be planted in an area that gets six to eight hours of sun a day. When do you plant raspberries? You can plant them in the early spring.

Another aspect to consider when planting is not locating them within 300 feet (91 m.) of any wild blackberry bushes. You should also

stay away from ground that has had tomatoes or potatoes growing in it within the past year or so. This is because wild blackberries, tomatoes and potatoes are prone to the same sort of fungus that the raspberry bush is prone to, and this precaution prevents your raspberries from catching the fungus.

Care of Raspberry Plants

When growing raspberries, make sure the ground is kept free from weeds. Also, make sure you water the bushes regularly. You can use a straw mulch to help keep the weeds under control.

When you take care of raspberry plants, you want to fertilize them twice a year the first year you plant them. After that, you can fertilize your growing raspberry bushes annually. You will use 2 to 3 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 foot (30 m.) of row. Scale that down if you are only planting a couple of bushes.

You will also need to prune raspberries as part of their care. Summer raspberries should be pruned twice a year. You will want to prune the growing raspberry bushes in the spring and right after you harvest the fresh berries. Everbearing red raspberries should be pruned twice a year because this provides two crops a season.

The care of raspberry plants sounds like a lot of work, but it’s really quite simple. You can train these bushes to grow along fences and even to climb up on trellises.

Harvesting Raspberries

You will know your berries are ripe enough to eat when they are full of color. You can start sampling them daily until you get the right sweetness. Be sure to harvest your raspberries before the birds do!

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