Raspberry Bush Care
If you are looking for something easy to grow and have a little space, Raspberries are for you. Sweet tasting Raspberries, grow wild in the woods and along trails in many parts of the country. They successfully compete with a wide variety of weeds in the wild. When you plant a few in your yard or garden, they will easily thrive. With a little care and attention, you will you will be rewarded with a big and juicy crop.
Raspberries are divided into 2 classes by fruit bearing habit:
JUNEBEARING: Bears fruit in early summer on 2 year old canes.
EVERBEARING: Bears fruit on ends of canes late in first season; and
laterally on same canes early in second season.
1) Full sunshine. Don't even begin to wish for a harvest in shade. At least 6-8 full hot sun-hours a day. If you can grow great roses in this spot, you'll be good for growing raspberries.
2) Even moisture. The key to obtaining good berries is to have good soil with even moisture when the berries are setting flower and fruit. Without the moisture, your berries will be small and tough. Plants need regular watering: a minimum of one inch of water per week especially during flowering and fruiting. Feed with complete fertilizer at blossoming time. Keep the area well weeded.
3) Raspberries are tolerant of many soils, but the best growth occurs in deep loam soils that are neither too wet nor too dry. If your soil is sandy or gravelly, the addition of rotted manure or compost helps retain moisture and provides nutrients. It's best to avoid heavy clay soils, but if you don't have a choice, work coarse organic materials into the top four inches (10 centimetres) to create a well-aerated top layer where the roots can run freely. Plant your canes in this amended top layer, then apply mulch.
The best time to plant is early spring or mid-autumn. One-year-old canes are sold bare-root or in pots.
1) Put new canes 18-inches apart in the rows. Put the rows at least 4-feet apart.
2) Allow approximately 6 canes to develop in each square foot of the row.
3) Rogue out the dead and weaker canes in the spring to only leave 6.
Plants will produce 3-5 canes the first year. The roots will produce fruit for ten years.
A berry will grow a cane the first year. It does not produce fruit in that first year. In the second year it will produce fruit and then it will die. You'll know the berry is ripe when you can put your fingertips on it and gently pulling – separate it from the core. Unripe berries are hard. Too ripe berries crumble away from the core or are soft and pulpy.
A good patch will produce plenty of runners. It is best to dig up runners to control the size of your raspberry patch.
General Pruning Care
Because a raspberry cane grows in year one and then produces the fruit in year two, you'll always have year one and year two canes in each square foot. To get the best quality of fruit from your raspberries, you need to prune annually.
On June bearing varieties, prune out entire cane after fruiting. On Everbearing types prune upper portion of cane after fall fruiting and then remaining cane after spring crop.
In the early spring, you reduce the number of canes to six in each square foot. Do this by removing all the dead canes first. Then prune out the weak and smaller canes leaving 6 big thick canes in each square foot of row. These strong year two canes will produce fruit and another crop of young canes. The row will become crowded over the summer as the canes grow.
If the canes are thin, you're either too crowded (left too many canes in the spring) or you're not feeding enough or not enough sunshine is penetrating to the plants.
Keep your rows as narrow as you can (one foot is ideal for harvesting) – you can mow the adventurous shoots off or dig them up in the spring or fall. You keep the rows narrow so the wind and sun can penetrate into the plants keeping them healthy and disease free.
The Everbearing plants grow like regular berries with one minor detail. The new canes produce a crop of berries on new wood in the fall. So a new cane produces a small crop of berries in the fall. Then it overwinters and produces a crop of berries in the spring as would a normal plant. Then it dies as would a normal plant. In order to get a spring and fall crop, treat your patch like a normal patch above. The second-year canes will give you a summer harvest while the new canes will give you a fall harvest. To only get a fall crop, mow everything to the ground in the early spring and only allow the new growth to produce a fruit set.
The most common disease problem with Raspberries is fungus disease. This can be minimized by keeping the hedgerows thinned. Insects are not a common problem. The biggest threat to your crop are birds. Unless you want to share the crop, we recommend a bird netting over the plants during the fruiting period.