April 7, 2011 at 9:30 a.m.

Learning about raising raspberries

Learning about raising raspberries
Learning about raising raspberries

Each year I try to write an article about the bare root plants the Chisago County Master Gardeners offer for sale. I have already covered blueberries, rhubarb, asparagus, strawberries, and onions. Writing about raspberries completes the series for this year.

Raspberries need full sun and well-drained soil. Even temporary water-saturated soil conditions can cause serious injury. This includes poor cane growth and increased incidents of soil-borne disease and plant death. They need good soil because 90 percent of the root system is in the top 20 inches of soil where the root must take up moisture and nutrients.

There are two types of raspberries recommended for our area. Summer bearing produce berries once a year, usually the first part of July. We offer Boyne as our summer bearing variety. Boyne is a stand-by that was developed in northern Minnesota. It has extra hardy large fruit, with shorter canes, that make harvest easier.

It's always difficult to explain pruning raspberries because there are some choices. Summer bearing, such as Boyne are easier to explain because after harvest you cut out the ones that have fruited or wait until they die back before winter. In the spring you can cut out any canes that are down, broken off or damaged. If you prune back any new canes, don't cut too low or there won't be any, but just bush. Remember that 70 percent of the fruit will be on the top third of the cane.

Everbearing raspberries usually means that they will continue to bear until a killing frost. If you choose to have two crops, prune them as you would summer bearing berries. I choose to harvest only one crop in the fall, so I cut my canes one to two inches from the ground after the ground freezes in the fall. I do this because I think they are easy to prune with less problems with insects and disease, and larger fruit, but that's just my thinking.

We offer two varieties of everbearing raspberries. Autumn Britten ripens mid August and bears until frost. It has a large quite firm berry that is very tasty. It grows fast and is winter hardy.

Heritage is my favorite everbearing raspberry. Canes are tall, but strong enough so they usually support themselves. They are flavorful and drier than most berries, giving them very good shelf life. The down side of Heritage is that if you only want one crop, they won't produce until September. This means that if you have an early frost, you will have a short year.

Don't forget our Spring Class Series continues. Tuesday, April 19, Diane Patras will lead a class on growing blueberries. Diane will discuss varieties developed for our climate. She will also cover soil preparation, soil improvement, pruning, and care of new and established plants. All classes are held at the Senior Center in North Branch. All classes begin at 6:30 p.m. and the cost is $5 per person.

We still have bare root plants for sale. If you need any information about the classes or ordering plants, call our office at 277-0151, or you can call me at 651-257-4496, and leave a message.


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