Raspberries photo

Water all new raspberry plantings well, immediately after planting, says Union County Cooperative Extension Director Andrew Baucom.

Raspberries are relatively easy to grow once you understand the growth habit. The raspberry plant has perennial roots and crowns, but their canes, or shoots, live for 2 years. The first-year canes produce only leaves as they emerge from the ground, and these canes go dormant in the winter.

In the following spring, these second-year canes, produce flowers and fruit, and after fruting the cane dies. These types of raspberries are known as summer fruiting types. In North Carolina summer fruiting raspberry cutivars will produce fruit in June and July.

A second type of raspberry known as everbearing and will produce fruit on the tips of the first-year canes. Everbearing cultivars can produce fruit from late July through October. They can also produce a small crop on the second-year canes, just below the area where they stopped fruiting in the fall.

Soil Testing and Planting

It is best to test the soil four to six months before planting to allow adequate time to amend the soil based on test results. An ideal pH is 6.0. If the pH is too low, raise it to the level suggested by the soil test with dolomitic lime.

Keep plant roots moist until planting time by either heeling them into the ground temporarily or wrapping them in wet burlap. Do not leave the roots exposed to the drying effects of sun and air.

Prepare a planting hole large enough to allow the roots to spread out naturally. Do not prune the roots except to remove damaged ones. Set plants at the same depth they were planted in the nursery. The crown (the point where the stem and root merge) should be one inch below ground level.

After planting, tamp the soil firmly to remove air pockets around the roots. Water all new plantings well, immediately after planting.

Nutrient Management

Before planting, spade or till into the bed 1 pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet of soil. Cultivate by hand and hoe between rows to a depth of 1 to 2 inches to prevent suckers from taking hold. Mulch with lawn clippings, pine straw, or pine bark.

Fertilize just after new growth starts in the spring (May) with a 10-10-10 commercial mix at a rate of 5 pounds per 100 feet of row. Repeat in July with another 2 to 3 pounds per 100 feet of row if vigor is low. In subsequent years, apply 8 pounds per 100 feet of row in March and repeat in May. Spread the fertilizer uniformly in a foot-wide band over the row, or sidedress with one-half the recommended amount of fertilizer on each side of the row.

Weed Control

Keep plants in rows free of weeds by hand weeding, hoeing and cultivation or with a mulch. Raspberries may be grown under clean cultivation, sod or permanent mulch. Mulch usually provides adequate weed control and does not compete with the raspberry root system. The average homeowner has many organic residues that can be used as mulch, such as lawn clippings, leaves, or shredded vegetation.

If you grow raspberries under clean cultivation, the area between rows is cultivated to a depth of 1 to 2 inches at intervals of 2 weeks from early spring to end of harvest. This controls weeds and red raspberry suckers in the row. If you use sod culture, mow the area between one row like a lawn throughout the summer to control growth of weeds, grasses and suckers. Where a permanent mulch is used, mow at timely intervals to control raspberry suckers between the rows.

Highest yields will likely be obtained with permanent mulch. Clean cultivation is next highest yield, and sod usually results in the lowest yield, but is easy to maintain for a homeowner.

Disease and Insects

Many insects and diseases damage raspberries. You can avoid many pest problems by:

1. Planting only quality nursery stock.

2. Keeping plants well-spaced with a narrow wall of foliage well exposed to light.

3. Removing diseased or sick plants and all canes that have fruited, either burning them or removing them.

4. Replanting with quality stock every 5 to 7 years.

5. Removing wild brambles in vicinity of your garden.

N.C. Cooperative Extension provides information to help people, businesses and communities solve problems, develop skills, and build a better future. Extension specializes in agriculture, 4-H youth development, communities, food and nutrition, and then environment. To learn more about our programs, please visit: https://union.ces.ncsu.edu/