Seasonal Raspberry Controls

A reader asks about runaway raspberries:

“I have a raised box (12” tall) in which I planted raspberries only to find that they have gotten into my surrounding lawn now. I have been pulling and mowing the starts but how do people keep raspberries in a bed with out this problem? I thought they fruited on second year wood and thus have not been cutting them back hard other than the old canes. Thanks for your help…

Hi Irene,

The key to your raspberry suckers is pruning. As thicketing cane-producers, raspberries do tend to run. At first, it can be tempting to let them go, since so many new plants result. However, you’ll get better crops and healthier plants from properly pruned canes. The goal is to space your canes so that each gets plenty of light and air, avoiding molds and mildews that plague crowded berry patches. Thus, we plant canes about 18 inches apart, in rows that are about 3 feet apart. Ah, but what happens next? They run and multiply and our careful rows are lost in a mass of canes and foliage.

Proper Pruning Means What, Exactly?

Regular pruning is the answer to raspberry control. In mid summer (or now, if you did not do this yet), you can remove anything that’s dead or diseased and any elderly canes with grey bark. You can also dig up any wanderers and pot them up as gift for other gardeners (extra plants are always welcome at Habitat For Humanity project houses, for example).
In late winter (usually mid-February), before the buds open, you can remove any cane that fruited last year (as in this year, so include then any fall-bearing canes that are still fruiting now). Nip back weak canes and once again remove any wanderers. Give your rows stout stakes that rise at least 4 feet above the ground and run sturdy wire between them at about 2 feet and 3-1/2 to 4 feet.  Tie in the strongest canes with jute or soft ties, leaving some air space between plants (at least 12 inches). The original canes will be clumping by then, so thin to about 3-4 canes per running foot of row.

Raspberries For Almost Every Season

Early and mid-summer-bearing raspberries crop for about a month in mid- to late summer, with late-fruiting varieties producing into autumn. The kind sold as ever-bearing have two main crops, one heavy crop in mid- to late summer (on second-year canes) and one lighter crop in late summer-autumn (on first year canes). In the maritime Northwest, late raspberries can bear well into fall (sometimes into November).

Great tasting, disease-resistant summer bearing raspberries for the Northwest include Willamette (a deep red, rather tart early summer fruiter), mid-season Centennial, and late-producing Chilliwack. Autumn Bliss is a splendid fall cropper, while Heritage (red) and Fall Gold (yellow fruit) are good producers but both are rather sweet and mild in flavor, lacking the tart-sweet balance that I personally prefer.

Raspberries appreciate good garden soil with plenty of humus and good drainage is essential (many are susceptible to root rots in wet winters). A carpet of well-rotted compost in fall and spring promotes lovely, full flavor (compost helps develop flavor by building brix or natural sugars in fruits and vegetables).

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One Response to Seasonal Raspberry Controls

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