How to grow delicious raspberries

Growing raspberries on the Canadian prairies is very fruitful and worthwhile. Urban or rural, growing raspberries is a bit challenging in the beginning, but well worth the effort of learning.

There are two types of raspberries, both with their own specific requirements for growing: 

1. Primocane-Bearing Varieties

These bear fruit on the CURRENT season’s branches. This means the plants can be mowed down to ground level in fall or early spring, and the new growth will produce fruit.

2. Floricane-Bearing Varieties

These varieties bear fruit on the PREVIOUS season’s branches.

During the first year, the new green cane (primocane) grows vegetatively. The cane develops a brown bark, is dormant in winter, and during the second growing season is called a floricane. The floricane produces fruit in early to mid summer and then dies. New primocanes are produced each year, so fruit production continues year after year. It’s your job to prune out those dead canes each year.

Most raspberries are self-fertile, meaning you will get fruit with only one variety. They are best pollinated by bees, and generally start producing fruit a year after planting.

All raspberries will need pruning annually! Raspberries are perennials, however it is important to realize that their branches (or canes) which bear the fruit live for only two summers

Planting Raspberries
  • Raspberry plants can be purchased as dormant, bare-root plants, but are best purchased as potted plants. Potted plants can be transplanted anytime in the growing season.

How to Plant Raspberries

  • Pick a site with full sun to produce the most fruit. The plant will grow in part shade, but harvests will be meager.
  • Your site needs rich and well-drained soil, great air circulation, and shelter from wind. Avoid a wet area, as well as a windy spot, as raspberries do not like to stand in water nor dry out.
  • Prepare soil with a couple inches of compost or aged manure a couple weeks before planting, about 2 cubic feet of compost per 100 square feet. Till the soil well before planting.
  • Plant far from wild growing berries, otherwise risk the spread of pests and diseases to your garden.
  • Dig a hole that is roomy enough for the roots to spread.
  • Whether you’re planting bare-root or potted plants, keep the crown of the plant 1 or 2 inches above the ground.
  • Space red and yellow raspberry plants from 2 to 3 feet apart, in rows 8 feet apart. Space black and purple types 4 feet apart.
  • Depending on the variety you plant, you may need to fashion a support. A trellis or a fence are good options. If you chose to use one of these, establish them at or before time of planting so the plants are not disturbed when maturing.
Caring for Raspberries
  • Mulching is important throughout the season to conserve moisture and suffocate weeds. Keep a thick layer of mulch surrounding plants at all times.
  • Water one inch per week from spring until after harvest. Regular watering is better than infrequent deep soaking. Avoid wetting the leaves to keep diseases at bay.
  • The roots send up an abundant amount of shoots, called canes. Keep order by pruning away the majority of them, so that the survivors can produce lots of berries.
How to Prune Raspberries

Summer-Bearersproduce berries on two year old canes while one year old canes grow right beside them. You shouldn’t have trouble telling which is which: the older canes have brown stems, and the young ones are still green. Prune only the older ones, the ones that have finished their fruitful year.

  • Red raspberries: Prune any time after the last harvest and before growth begins in the spring. Cut all canes that produced fruit to the ground. Thin to 6 sturdy canes per hill (per foot of row). In areas where winter injury is common, you may delay thinning the primocanes (new growth) until the following spring, when you will be able to tell which canes have survived. Before growth starts in spring, cut the canes to about 12 inches above the support. Don’t cut back more than 25% of each cane, to avoid reducing yield.
  • Black and purple raspberries: When primocanes are between 24 to 30 inches in height, pinch out the tip of each shoot to induce branching. This will make the fruit easier to pick and increase production. After harvest, cut down all canes that bore fruit to ground level. Before growth begins the following spring, cut back all side branches so they are 12 to 18 inches long. Select 6 canes per hill, and prune out the rest. Tie these canes to the support system.

Ever-bearing or fall-bearing raspberries 

  • This is easy. Just cut all canes to the ground any time after harvest and before growth begins in the spring. They give fruit on canes which are in their first year of growth, after which there is no reason to keep them. Mow them to the ground or use pruning shears for a small patch.
  • Clean up all debris—diseases and pests overwinter.
  • Pruning is not required during the growing season unless you want to keep a uniform order.
  • Rabbits love to eat the canes in winter. A chicken wire fence will help prevent rabbit damage.
Harvesting Tips
  • In early summer, berries will ripen over a time of about 2 weeks. You will need to pick berries every couple of days.
  • Try to harvest berries on a sunny day, when they are dry.
  • Don’t tug too hard on your raspberries when picking. A ripe raspberry will leave the vine willingly.
  • Raspberries can be kept refrigerated for about 5 days.
  • If possible, don’t wash the berries after picking, unless you’re going to eat them straight away. They will grow moldy and mushy if not kept dry in storage. If you do need to wash them, let them air dry completely before storing.
Recommended Varieties to Watch For at your favorite Garden Centre

Primocanes:

Double Delight

Latham

Nova

Red River

Floricanes:

Amity

Boyne

Cascade Gold

Fall Gold

Red Mammoth

Royalty Purple

Souris

What do you call raspberries playing the guitar?
A jam session.

What did one raspberry say to the other raspberry?
If you weren't so sweet, we wouldn't be in this jam!

 

Happy Gardening!

 

For more ideas ask your local garden center professionals and make sure you follow us on FacebookTwitter,YouTubePinterest and Instagram for other help tips and hints.

 

 

Jan

Guest post by Jan - Bylands Account Representative

I’m very proud of my 4 children.  All 4 of them, worked many summers in the garden centre, they love plants and gardening too – but opted for totally different careers.  Jan loves living in Winnipeg and adds extensive plant knowledge to our team at Bylands.  You can sometimes find Jan as a guest on ‘The Gardener’, a radio program in Winnipeg on Sundays.