Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Small Fruits & Berries

Raspberry Essentials

by National Gardening Association Editors

Planning

  • Plant in late winter or early spring.
  • Select plants that are bare-root or rooted in soil.
  • Buy only certified virus-free plants. Black raspberries are especially vulnerable to disease, so plant resistant varieties when possible.
  • Summer-bearers should yield some berries in their second year and then full crops each succeeding summer. Everbearers may produce some fruit the first fall.

Preparation

  • Select a site in full sun; avoid frost pockets.
  • Eliminate perennial weeds, preferably with a cover crop planted 1 year in advance. Mix in 1 to 2 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer for every 20 feet of row or plenty of manure in early spring before you plant.
  • Destroy neighboring wild raspberries or blackberries to prevent disease from spreading to your plants.
  • Planting

    • Set plants in the garden an inch or two deeper than previously grown. Space plants 3 feet apart in rows 6 to 7 feet apart. Allow red and yellow raspberries to fill in a hedgerow not more than 2 feet wide (some purples will also create a hedgerow); blackcaps and most purples will remain as separate plants.
    • Cut black raspberry canes back to ground level; leave an 8-inch handle on others. Water well.

    Care

    • Keep the aisles between rows tilled bare or plant grass and keep it mowed.
    • Cultivate to control weeds early the first summer, then mulch thickly. Once the plants are established, maintain a layer of mulch 4 to 8 inches deep year-round.
    • Dig or till up suckers that spread beyond row boundaries.
    • Erect a T-trellis if your canes don't stand up on their own.
    • Prune during the dormant season. Remove dead and weak canes; thin out the healthiest ones. Blackcaps must also be summer-topped.
    • See our article Fruit Pests and Diseases for controls of common raspberry pests such as cane borers, crown borer, and anthracnose disease.

    Harvesting

    • Berries usually ripen over a period of 2 to 3 weeks during early summer; everbearers yield again for several weeks in early fall.
    • When they slide easily off the small white core, berries are ripe.
    • Pick into small containers so bottom berries are not crushed.
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