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Raspberry Growing and Harvest Information

by chuck.mcmullan
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Raspberries are very easy to grow, and they grow well in a wide variety of climates (zones 3-9). In fact, they grow so well, they often can be seen on the edge of a forest clearing or growing along the side of the road. Some people may even consider them weeds. They like well-drained soil and full sun for maximum berry production.

Where to Grow Raspberries

Raspberries prefer full sun and sandy loam soils rich in organic matter. Avoid planting raspberries in low lying areas that remain wet late into spring. Their roots will rot and the plant will suffer. It is also recommended to avoid planting raspberries where tomatoes, peppers, or eggplant has been grown within the past four years, to help prevent the spread of Verticillium.

Recommended Varieties of Raspberries

Raspberries come in four different colors: red, black, yellow, and purple. It’s important to research the different varieties to see which raspberry is best for your garden in your local climate. Things to consider in picking a variety are hardiness, yield, disease resistance, berry size, flavor, and appearance.

All raspberries will fall into one of two main categories: Everbearing or summer-bearing. Everbearing varieties will, if cared for properly, produce berries from July through fall. Summer-bearing varieties will only produce 1 crop of berries over a few weeks in the summer. The summer bearing varieties tend to produce berries a few weeks earlier than the everbearing varieties. The everbearing varieties are also referred to as fall-bearing varieties because, if they are not pruned properly, they will start to produce berries in the fall.

Temperature
For growth60 - 70 F
Soil and Water
FertilizerLight feeder, use compost & 5 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 foot of row in the spring before growth begins.
pH5.5 - 6.2
WaterAverage
Measurements
Root Depth12 - 18"
Height36 - 60"
Width24 - 36"
Space between plants
Space Between Plants36 - 48"
Space Between Rows6 - 8'
Average plants per person5 - 20
Harvest
Pick when raspberries are full color and easily separate from the core.
Companions
CompanionsGarlic, Tansy, Turnips, Yarrow
IncompatiblesStrawberries, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplants

Soil for Raspberry Growing

Since raspberries are a perennial, they can last many years. It is important to prepare the soil properly before planting your raspberry plants to ensure they can produce large amounts of quality fruit. Raspberries grow best in well-drained, alkaline loam soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.2. If you do not have soil that drains well, consider planting raspberries in a raised bed to ensure they don’t have wet feet. This will also help contain their spreading and clearly define a walking path that will make harvesting a little easier. Till at least 18 inches deep and work several inches of compost into the soil. Test the soil to determine its pH. Acidic soils may require applications of ground limestone to increase the pH.

Planting Raspberries

When –

Plant raspberry plants in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. They can be planted anytime in the summer if your plants are healthy, but spring is the preferred planting time. Raspberries planted in the spring will establish better, and provide more berries in their first producing summer.

Red Raspberry on Vine

How –

Raspberries are typically grown from bare-root plants, rather than seed. It is important to plant the bare roots at the same depth they were originally planted at. The soil level around the stems will indicate the original planting depth. Till the soil to 18 inches and mix in several inches of compost. Plant red and yellow raspberries three feet apart in rows about six feet apart. Black and purple raspberries should be planted four feet apart in rows about eight feet apart. Water and apply a thin layer of mulch after planting. Prune the stem to 5 inches and water immediately after transplanting.

How Raspberries Grow

Raspberries are very vigorous and some people consider them invasive.  They propagate using basal shoots or suckers, which are shoots that extend underground and develop roots.  In addition, if the tip of the plant is allowed to touch the soil, it will eventually root and start a new plant as well.  These shoots will need to be removed between your rows and can be planted at the end of the row to increase the number of plants. 

Raspberries are perennials, individual canes are mainly biennials, meaning they do not produce fruit on first-year canes. Only vegetative growth will be found on first-year canes. Second-year canes produce fruit and then will die and should be pruned out. It is easy to tell the age of the canes: the first-year canes will have a green stem, while second-year canes will have a thin brown bark covering them.

Storage Requirements
Raspberries can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days. Do not wash berries until you are ready to eat or preserve them. Raspberries are preserved best frozen whole, or canned as jelly or jam. Rinse berries in a solution of 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar to prevent mold, which can grow within a day at room temperature.
Fresh
TemperatureHumidityStorage Life
31 - 32F90 - 95%1 - 3 days
Preserved
MethodTasteShelf Life
CannedGood12+ months
FrozenFair10 - 12 months
DriedGood12 months

Cultivating Raspberries

Keep raspberry plants well-watered, free of weeds, fertilized, and pruned. Water at the base of the plant to decrease the chances of foliage disease. Too much fertilizer can be harmful: Add about 5 pounds of a 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 linear feet of plantings in the spring before growth begins. Always prune raspberries in late winter or early spring before growth begins. Prune all canes that have grayish peeling bark. These canes bore fruit last year and will not produce fruit again. Also, remove any canes that have grown outside of your designated rows. Remove all other canes, leaving 4-6 of the healthiest (tallest and fattest) canes per foot of each row. Attach the remaining canes to your support system. During the summer, prune dead, broken, or diseased canes as well as any that come up outside of your designated rows. Remember to wear thick gloves and have a sharp cutting tool.

To force everbearing raspberries to produce one big crop in the fall, prune back the entire bush in early spring and thin canes to about six inches apart, keeping the sturdiest canes. This works well for staggering the harvest if you have both summer bearing varieties and everbearing varieties. Everbearing varieties will also produce berries on last year’s growth several weeks sooner than if the entire plant was pruned back. To extend the harvest of everbearing canes, prune them just like you would a summer-bearing variety.

Black Raspberries

Harvesting Raspberries

Raspberries can generally be harvested the second year after the initial planting and every year after that. The berry is ripe when a gentle pull separates it from the core. Unripe berries are hard and over-ripe berries are soft and squish easily. It is important to pick berries every couple of days to maximize production. Use a small container when picking to keep the berries from squishing under their own weight.

Raspberries are highly perishable, which leads to their high cost at the market. They are best if eaten right after picking, but will keep in the refrigerator for a few days. Rinse berries in a solution of 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar to prevent mold, which can start growing within a day at room temperature. They can also be canned as jellies or jams or frozen for use over the winter. Raspberries freeze very well. Rinse them off, then dry well, and arrange in a single layer on a flat pan in the freezer. Once they are frozen, transfer them to a heavy plastic bag or another suitable container that can be sealed for long term storage in the freezer.

Raspberry Pests

  • Raspberry cane borer
  • Raspberry fruitworm
  • Red-necked cane borer
  • Japanese beetle
  • The biggest pest is likely birds and it’s recommended to place netting over your plants during fruiting season, unless you want to share your crop.

Raspberry Diseases

The most common disease affecting the raspberry plant is a fungal disease which can be minimized by keeping the hedgerows thinned.

  • Mosaic virus
  • Orange rust
  • Anthracnose
  • Cane blight
  • Spur blight
  • Crown or Cane gall
  • Verticillium wilt

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2 comments

Crispus March 27, 2021 - 9:19 pm

Good info.., but Isn’t there any chance of growing the raspberries from seeds, mostly if i wish to take them to the tropics and grow them all year round

Reply
chuck.mcmullan March 28, 2021 - 1:28 pm

This is a really good question. Most seed catalogs and places to buy seeds that we have seen do not offer raspberry seeds. Typically what you purchase is a small plant with or without dirt. That said, we have a healthy population of wild raspberries on our property, which we are confident came from bird droppings(seeds). I imagine the success rate of seed germination is on the low side for raspberries, and they spread easily once they start growing, so the consumer has better luck with the whole plant. If you want to try propagating them via seeds, I would recommend saving more seeds than you would for other plants. If you have any success, please let us know!

Reply