Helen’s guide to growing raspberries

 

Helen Simpson, from the Mushroom Shed, tells you all you need to know about growing raspberries. She has also written articles about growing basil, brassicas, chilli, coriander, cucurbits, garlic, ginger & turmeric, mint, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes and lesser known herbs.

Additional material from Guy’s tips: how to prune raspberries.

There are two types of raspberry:

  • ‘Summer bearing’, which fruit once a year, on 2nd year canes in summer.
  • ‘Everbearing’, which fruit twice a year, on 2nd year canes in summer, and on 1st year canes in autumn.

Now is a good time to be pruning your raspberries because, whichever type you have, it will have finished fruiting for the year. However, the two types should be pruned differently. If you haven’t yet worked out which type you have, prune them as though they are ‘summer bearers’.

For the ‘summer bearers’: cut all the canes that have fruited down to the ground (because they won’t fruit again). If you don’t know which canes have fruited, they are the longer and thicker ones, and they often have multiple lateral branches. Thin the others to 5-7 per plant, shorten them as desired, and tie the ends to your trellis.

For the ‘everbearers’: you can prune them like the ‘summer bearers’, in which case you will get two crops (in summer and autumn), neither of which will be prolific. Alternatively, you can sacrifice next summer’s crop for a better autumn crop by simply cutting all the canes down to the ground. Clearly, the second approach would not be good if your raspberries are, in fact, ‘summer bearers’ as it will result in no fruit next year! But it is (arguably) the best approach if you want raspberries in the autumn, and it is also the quickest.

I rather like the Wikihow raspberry pruning page.

raspberryThe intense flavour of a home-grown raspberry picked fresh from the bush encourages many people to plant raspberry canes.

The downside is the space and structure required to grow the canes and their maintenance. However the home-grown raspberry’s superior flavour compared to those bought in plastic-wrapped punnets from supermarkets makes it well worth the effort. Being able to feast on raspberries, rather than use them sparingly due to cost, is also a treat.

Getting started

Raspberries grow on canes, which are planted from late Autumn to Winter. The canes usually come bare rooted with little or no leaves and are about 20-30 cm tall when purchased. However they are also sold potted up early in Spring (for a higher price) when they have started to come out of their winter dormancy.

Raspberries are best grown in rows, with bunches of canes (about 3 canes per bunch) planted 30 cm apart, running north south to maximise sunlight. Strong trellis support about 1 metre high is required along the row to support the canes – usually three or so thick wires are run between posts. The canes are tied up the trellis as they grow, then trained across the wires.

When planting the canes, dig a trench along the row and fill with soil improved with plenty of compost and manure. The raspberry cane can be hilled in a mound on top of this to allow plenty of drainage. Mulch heavily with straw and avoid weed growth, as this can deter fruiting.

How many canes?

The answer to this question depends on how many raspberries you want to eat, combined with how much space you have. For a family backyard, try 6 to 12 canes initially, depending on space available. Around 20-30 canes may produce a surplus for jam and bottling.

Types of raspberries

Raspberries are divided into two types – summer bearers (which produce fruit in Summer) and everbearers (which produce fruit in both Summer and Autumn).

Maintenance

Canes are dormant in winter and usually bare. In Spring, canes grow vigorously. Some fruit may be produced on fruiting buds in the first year, depending on variety, but don’t expect a significant harvest until the following year.

With summer bearers, fruit is produced on what is called ‘second year cane’. This is a cane that has sprouted on the previous year’s cane. Once established, you will have a plant that has second year canes as well as first year canes. The first year canes come via new shoots from the ground and are easily recognised by its lush green growth. Each year after fruiting, cut any second year cane back to the ground, leaving the new first year cane ground shoots to produce their own second year canes for fruiting the following season.

With everbearers, fruit is produced on ‘first year cane’. These plants require less maintenance. Cut all of the plant back to the ground after fruiting each year. To produce more fruit, after a few months of rapid Spring growth, you can also prune plant growth slightly to encourage more fruiting laterals.

Some common varieties

Try Williamette for heavy cropping from December onwards or Chilcotin for a longer season of cropping from December. If you are going away over Summer, and don’t want to miss your harvest, Heritage crops from February onwards. Seekna is a very early cropping variety and has the advantage of being almost thornless.

Pests and diseases

Netting is the only good solution to deter birds, who love the ripe, red fruit too. Generally, backyard-grown raspberries are not prone to many diseases; however, to help deter any fungal diseases, keep mulch away from the base of the plant.

Protect from hot afternoon sun and hot, dry winds if possible, as this will dry out fruit.

  4 Responses to “Helen’s guide to growing raspberries”

  1. Thanks for the excellent explanation and information. Where in Melbourne, or Victoria can we find the raspberry types you’ve mentioned? And how to make our neutral soil acidic enough to grow good raspberries?

    Regards,

    Nurit.

  2. Thx for your information. Great!

    Question! I’m a bit mixed about which cane is which. I can see new canes coming as shoots from the soil. Some of last year’s canes (un pruned) have new green growth showing. Some have none. I am unsure what to cut back and what to leave. They are summer fruiting canes. Can I cut tips off them to get laterals with more fruit?

    Lol I think I need A B C to follow.

    I’m learning heaps and wish I had your knowledge. Thanks so much.

    • As Helen says, summer fruiting raspberries fruit on second year canes only. So, a cane that has fruited will never fruit again and should be cut down to the ground. The laterals are irrelevant. If you don’t know which canes have fruited, they are the longer and thicker ones, and they often have multiple lateral branches.

      Leave 5-7 first year canes per plant, shortening them as desired. Tie the ends to your trellis. Next year, you will know which are the second year canes as they will be the ones tied to your trellis.

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