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Raspberry, Black

Blackcap Raspberry
Edible fruit


The plants described here are grown for their luscious fruit; for ornamental species, see Rubus. Red and yellow raspberries are derived from R. idaeus; they are native to North America, Europe, and Asia. 

Raspberries grow from perennial roots that produce thorny biennial stems called canes. Generally, raspberry canes grow to full size in the first year, then bear fruit in their second summer. Red and yellow varieties known as everbearing (or fall-bearing) produce two crops on the same canes—one in fall of the first year, the second in summer of the next year. In all instances, the canes die after fruiting in the second year.

For raspberry fruit to reach perfection, plants need winter chill and a lingering springtime with slowly warming temperatures. In warmer zones outside the best raspberry climates, satisfactory production may come from plants grown in light shade, mulched heavily to keep soil cool. Good drainage is essential; if you garden in heavy clay, consider planting in raised beds. Rich, slightly acid soil (pH 6 to 6.5) is ideal. Avoid planting where you have previously grown tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, or eggplants, which may have tainted the soil with verticillium wilt.

Plant bare-root stock during the dormant season. Set red and yellow raspberries 2 1/2–3 ft. apart, in rows spaced 6–10 ft. apart. Cut back the cane that rises from the root, leaving only enough (about 6 in.) to serve as a marker. Mulch plantings to discourage weeds and keep soil moist. Water need is greatest during flowering and fruiting. Feed at bloom time.

Red and yellow raspberries are produced on erect plants with long, straight canes; they can be grown as freestanding shrubs and staked, but they are tidier and easier to manage if trained on a trellis or confined to a hedgerow (pairs of parallel wires strung at 3 ft. and 5 ft. above the ground along either side of a row of plants).

Summer-bearing varieties should produce three to five canes in the first year. Tie these to a trellis or confine to a hedgerow. Dig or pull out any canes that grow more than 1 ft. away from trellis or outside hedgerow. In late dormant season, cut canes on trellis to 5–5 1/2 ft. high, those in hedgerow to 4 ft. When growth recommences, new canes will appear all around parent plant and between rows. After the original canes bear fruit, cut them to the ground. Then select the best 5–12 new canes and train these (they will bear next summer); cut the remaining new canes to the ground. Everbearing red and yellow varieties fruit in first autumn on top third of cane, then again in second summer on lower two-thirds of cane. Cut off upper portion of cane after first harvest; cut out cane entirely after second harvest. As an alternative, you can follow the example of growers who cut everbearing canes to the ground yearly in fall after fruiting has finished (wait until late dormant season in cold-winter regions). You’ll sacrifice one of the annual crops but get an extended harvest from late summer into fall. Use a power mower in a large berry patch.

To control anthracnose and other fungal diseases on all raspberries, spray with lime sulfur during dormancy and again as leaf buds begin to open; this also helps control many insect pests, including spider mites and cane borers. If borers attack, prune out and destroy damaged canes below entry points (pinhead-size holes at or near ground level).

A caution to gardeners in Hawaii: The very vigorous R. niveus, called Mysore raspberry (ripe fruit is black, but plant is grown like red raspberry), is sometimes grown in Island gardens; however, it can become a troublesome weed, choking out native vegetation.

Red and yellow varieties 
Red varieties are the most common; yellow types are mutations of red raspberries.

‘Anne’. Everbearing. Large, apricot-gold berries with excellent, sweet flavor.

‘Autumn Bliss’. Everbearing. Very large red berries with fine flavor. Resists root rot.

‘Bababerry’. Everbearing. Large, firm red berries. Needs little winter chill; stands heat well. Best in hot-summer climates.

‘Boyne’. Summer-bearing. Very hardy red raspberry bred in Manitoba. Medium-size fruit. Early ripening. Subject to anthracnose.

‘Canby’. Summer-bearing. Large bright red berries. Thornless.

‘Caroline’. Everbearing. Large, red berries with excellent flavor and high levels of nutrients and antioxidants.

‘Cascade Delight’. Summer-bearing. Long season of large red berries with great flavor. Heavy bearing and resistant to root rot.

‘Chilcotin’. Summer-bearing. Very large, firm red berries with excellent flavor. Long harvest season.

‘Chilliwack’. Summer-bearing. Very large red berries with fine flavor. Somewhat resistant to root rot.

‘Dinkum’. Everbearing. Medium-size, firm red fruit with good flavor.

‘Fallgold’. Everbearing. Large yellow fruit with good flavor.

‘Fallred’. Everbearing. Large, firm red fruit with outstanding flavor.

‘Heritage’. Everbearing. Small red berries are tasty but a bit dry.

‘Indian Summer’. Everbearing. Small crops of large, tasty red berries. Fall crop is often larger.

‘Kiska’. Summer-bearing. Small red berries with good flavor. Hardy; developed for Alaska.

‘Latham’. Summer-bearing. Older, very hardy; for coldest regions. Mildews in humid summers. Late. Large red berries are often crumbly.

‘Meeker’. Summer-bearing. Large, firm bright red berries on long, willowy branches.

‘Newburgh’. Summer-bearing. Large light red berries. Late ripening variety. Takes heavy soil fairly well.

‘September’. Everbearing. Small to medium-size red berries of good flavor. Fall crop is heavier.

‘Summit’. Everbearing. Large red berries with good flavor. Very productive. Resistant to root rot.

‘Sumner’. Summer-bearing. Early-ripening variety with some resistance to root rot in heavy soils. Fine-flavored, large red berries.

‘Tulameen’. Summer-bearing. Very large, firm red berries with excellent flavor. Long harvest season. Must have well-drained soil.

‘Willamette’. Summer-bearing. Large, firm dark red berries that hold color and shape well.

Raspberry, Black

Eastern U.S. natives, black raspberries (Rubus occidentalis), also called blackcap raspberries, have blue-black fruit that is firmer and seedier than that of red and yellow types—and they have a more pronounced flavor as well. Expected life is 4 to 8 years. 

Black raspberries are produced on clump-forming plants with arching canes. Plant in rows, allowing about 4 ft. in width and 12 ft. in length. Expect them to grow 5 or 6 ft. tall. No support for plants is needed, but a good pruning program will help you manage them, since this year’s canes produce next year’s fruit. Clusters of white flowers appear in spring.

In the first summer, force branching by cutting back new canes to 2 ft. If you prefer trellising, cut to 2–2 1/2 ft.

In late dormant season, remove all weak or broken canes. Leave six to eight canes in a hill or spaced 6–8 in. apart in a row. Shorten the side branches to 8–10 in. The side branches will bear fruit in summer. After harvest, cut to the ground all canes that have fruited and cut back all new canes as described for the first summer’s growth.

Here are some varieties to get you started.

‘Cumberland’. Large black berries. Old, heavy-bearing variety.

‘Jewel’. Large black berries. Vigorous, disease-resistant plant.

‘Morrison’. Large black berries. Productive, late ripening variety.

‘Munger’. Medium-size black berries. This is the most popular commercial black-fruited variety.

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