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Home > Small Fruit Plants > Raspberry Plants > Planting and care instructions for Raspberries

Planting and care instructions for Raspberries

Soil Preparation for Raspberries

Red raspberries grow in most garden soils if they have ample organic matter and adequate drainage. For summer-bearing raspberries in good garden soil, apply only a maintenance amount of fertilizer: 4 pounds of ammonium sulfate and 2 pounds of treble super phosphate per 1,000 square feet. However, if the soil has not produced a good garden, have it tested before planting. If soil is not tested, apply 8 pounds of ammonium sulfate and 4 pounds of treble super phosphate, 1 pound of zinc sulfate, 1 pound of iron chelate and 10 bushels of organic matter per 1,000 square feet. Work these in before planting.

For fall-bearers, increase the amounts of fertilizer by 50 percent.

Maintain soil fertility with a spring application of 4 pounds of ammonium sulfate and 2 pounds of treble super phosphate per 1,000 square feet. Scatter among the canes and cultivate into the soil. Apply enough water to maintain a moderate moisture level in the root zone. Withhold water after the first frost to help harden off the plants. A late November watering reduces winter drying.

Planting Raspberries

Set raspberry plants in early spring. Cut the canes to within 6 inches of the ground for best results. Spacing for raspberry plants depends on the system of training you plan to use and on the type of cultivating equipment you own. When planting in hedge rows, space the rows far enough apart to cultivate with available equipment. Set plants 3 to 4 feet apart within the row. If you plan to cultivate with a garden tractor, 6 feet is the minimum distance between rows. After one or two years, suckers fill in the row to form a hedge of canes. Thin the suckers to 6 inches. The hedge row should not be more than 2 feet wide at ground level.

Trellising for Raspberries

Summer-bearing varieties may require some kind of support. Stretch a wire on either side of the hedge row, 3 feet above the ground. This wire confines the canes to the hedge row. To make them stand erect, you may have to tie the canes to the wire with soft twine.

Weed Control for Raspberries

Weed control in raspberries is necessary to reduce competition for water, nutrients, and sunlight. Cultivation and mulches are the most practical control measures for home gardeners. Raspberry plantings should be cultivated thoroughly and frequently. If weeds and grasses get a start, they are difficult to control. Approved herbicides can be used for weed control in raspberry plantings. The use of herbicides supplements cultivation and does not replace it.

Herbicides are most useful in controlling weeds within rows or hills, where hand hoeing would otherwise be necessary. The middles between rows and hills should be cultivated regularly even though herbicides are used near the raspberry plants. Possible mulching materials include straw, crushed corncobs, chopped cornstalks, sawdust, wood chips, grass clippings, and shredded leaves. The depth of mulch needed depends upon the material. The depth ranges from 3 to 4 inches for sawdust to 8 to 10 inches for straw. (When mulching red raspberries, apply the full depth between the rows. Within the rows, apply only enough mulch to control the weeds so new canes can emerge in the spring.) Since mulches gradually decompose, apply additional material each year.

Pruning Raspberries

Pruning is one of the most important parts of raspberry culture and it is very often neglected or improperly done. Proper pruning of raspberries makes fruit picking easier and the individual fruits will be larger. In the hedge row system, spring pruning should consist of thinning the canes to 6 inches apart or 8 to 10 canes per 2 feet of row. Keep in mind the row should be only 18 inches wide. Remove the dead, weak and small canes. The remaining canes should be tipped or headed back to 3 to 3½ feet tall, since shortened canes are less likely to break under a load of fruit; this also ensures that winter-killed tips are removed. This spring pruning should be done in the early spring before any growth takes place.

In midsummer, after the raspberries have finished fruiting, all canes that bore fruit should be removed. These old canes will die the following winter since the canes of raspberries live only two years. The first year each cane grows as a shoot starting from the root. The second year each cane fruits and dies. These canes that fruited compete with the young canes for moisture and nutrients. They also harbor insects and diseases. Destroy or bury all the refuse removed in pruning.

Winter Protection for Raspberries

To obtain a crop of summer-bearing raspberries, protect the canes during the winter. Sometime after November 1, lay the canes down in one direction and hold them in place with a shovelful of soil on their tips. Plow or shovel a shallow furrow along each row and roll the soil over the canes. In early April, use a pitchfork to lift the canes out of the soil. Put the soil used to cover the canes back into the furrow.

Things to do Month by Month

Things to do: March

• Apply delayed dormant lime-sulfur for yellow rust, spur blight and anthracnose control. Because the first spores of yellow rust of the season are not produced until around mid-April, it is suggested that growers apply their delayed dormant spray as late as possible. • Apply pre-emergence herbicides.

Things to do: March/April/May

• Although many growers have traditionally applied fertilizer in March, recent research with other berry crops is suggesting that the plants will not begin taking up nitrogen until the leaves are open and expanded some and temperatures are warm enough for the leaves to begin transpiring. Heavy spring rains can result in the leaching of nitrogen below the root zone prior to root uptake. For these reasons, many growers are re-thinking their fertilizer programs and considering multiple applications in late March/early April and then again in May.

Things to do: August/September

• It is a good idea to apply appropriate chemicals immediately after harvest to the lower half of canes to protect catch-plate wounds from cane blight. • Give plants a good, deep irrigation after harvest, if possible. • Remove old canes. Train new canes or position them between wires to allow for movement of machinery down the rows. • Cultivate between rows and prepare the soil for throwing up on raised beds (fine texture, no clods). Plant a cover crop, if desired. • Fumigate land for new plantings, if appropriate. • Survey fields for weeds and flag areas where highly competitive weeds, such as quack grass, bindweed, and thistle are encroaching. It may be advisable to treat these areas this winter, rather than spend a lot of money on herbicide mixes which will not control these especially competitive weeds. • Fall applications of chemicals to protect against root rot control should be made while leaves are still green or greenish/yellow so they can absorb the chemical and move it down to the roots.

Planting and care instructions for Raspberries

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