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Raspberries

Perennials, ripen in late July/early Aug for floricane types and September for primocane types

Raspberries are a very old fruit. It is believed that they originated in Asia and came to North America via pre-historic people. Evidence has been found that early cave dwelling humans ate raspberries and they have been eaten ever since. Raspberry leaves are also used in teas. They were first cultivated in the 4th century AD. The ancient Greeks used them as a symbol of fertility. They gained popularity in the middle ages as they could be used as a red stain for artwork. The settlers brought their cultivated varieties with them to the Americas and raspberries were being cultivated there by the 1770’s

Growth Habit

  • Raspberries are perennial with woody stems. Typically they are full of prickles/thorns.
  • The flowers are white and small and need to be insect pollinated
  • The fruit is ripe in late July/early Aug for floricane types and September for primocane types. 
  • Raspberries originated as either black or red in colour. Yellow and purple raspberries are the result of breeding.  

Planting

  • They should be planted about 1 m (3 feet apart). Make sure to give raspberries lots of room as they will sucker and become a patch as they mature. 
  • They should be planted in spring when they are dormant. For best results, plant about 5-6 inches deep. 
  • Water very well until the plant is well established.

Pollination

  • Raspberries are self-fertile so only one type is required. The homeowner might like to have multiple varieties in a patch just for flavour differences. 

Pruning

  • Floricane types:
    • Selectively prune: Prune out the canes that have fruited and leave the canes that haven’t. The vegetative canes will fruit the following year. Blooms on old wood.
  • Primocane types: This type of raspberry can just be mowed down completely every spring or fall.  Primocane raspberries fruit on new growth unlike the floricanes so elective pruning is not necessary. Blooms on new wood.

Harvesting

  • Hand pick when the fruit falls easily off of the receptacle. 
  • Raspberries squish very easily so be careful not to pack them in super deep containers. 

Cultivars

There are a wide variety of raspberry cultivars available for purchase in greenhouses throughout the province.  Below is a chart listing the varieties recommended by the fruit program. 

Cultivar

Type

Fruit Colour

Fruit Size

Other notes

Red River

Primocane

red

medium

High suckering, shorter plant

Double Delight

Primocane

red

medium

Sweet tangy fruit, very tall canes

Autumn Bliss

Primocane

red

medium

Late ripening, lots of prickles

Festival

Floricane

Red

medium

Thornless, firm fruit

Steadfast

Floricane

Red

medium

Low suckering, U of S Variety

Red Mammoth

Floricane

Red

large

Late producer, U of S variety

Boyne

Floricane

Red

good

Industry standard, productive and dependable

Honeyqueen

floricane

yellow

good

Recommended for backyard use

Royalty

Floricane

purple

good

Zone 3, recommended for backyard use only

 Pests

There are a wide array of pests and diseases that affect raspberries.  Here is a selection of some of them.

  • Powdery mildew-This cause the leaves to be covered with a white film at first, and as the infection progresses causes the leaves to brown and fall off. Treatments like sulfur powders and garlic sprays can be sprayed preventatively but will not help once the infection has happened. Powdery Mildew thrives in high humidity and when plants are crowded.
  • Fireblight- This is a bacterial disease that gives the plant an appearance of being scalded by fire. This disease can be slowed down by removing the infected tissue.  Fireblight thrives in high nitrogen conditions so be wary of your fertilizer use, including manure. Boyne has been known to contact this disease on rare occasions
  • Botrytis- Botrytis is a type of grey coloured mould that causes the fruit to rot
  • Viruses- A variety of viruses can affect raspberries. Symptoms include yellow green blotches or freckles on the leaves, downward curling of the leaf margins, weak spindly shoots, and dry crumbly fruit. Most of the time aphids carry the virus so if you control the aphids you can easily control the virus. Also make sure you buy virus free stock plants. If you see a plant with symptoms remove that plant as soon as possible before it spreads. 
  • Shoot and crown borer- Plants that are affected by this bug usually lack vigour and are stunted and weak.  Lateral growth may wilt in spring and eventually die. The larvae tunnel through the plant tissue to cause this damage. To control this bug remove the dead/spent canes in the fall. The bug likes to overwinter in the hollow dead canes. Also keep your plants vigorous, borers are attracted to weak plants.
  • Raspberry fruit worm- These are the unwelcomed worms that you find curled up in the open centre of the raspberry once you pick it. The adult beetle form of the worm typically does not do much damage. Beetles can be hand picked off of the raspberry plants before they lay their eggs or a pesticide called spinosad can be used. This worm is more of an inconvenience and will not do excessive damage to your plants.
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