Questions? Write Me at

Questions? Write me at fullcirclegardener @ cableone . net.

The Scoop on Raspberries: Maintianing for Optimal Harvest

My summer-bearing (closest) and fall-bearing (furthest away) raspberries before spring cleanup.

In my post on site selection, I explained the basic difference between summer-bearing and fall-bearing (aka: ever-bearing) raspberries and the importance of selecting your site carefully.  In this post I want to cover maintenance for both summer- and fall-bearing raspberries.  Raspberry maintenance is pretty simple, and just a little bit of time and energy spent in the spring will go a long way toward obtaining a larger fruit & more abundant harvest later in the season.

As with any plant, overcrowding will reduce production as the plants compete for water and nutrients.  I have not had a big problem with this.  My raspberries seem to naturally space themselves about 6 inches apart, but if you find your raspberries coming up closer than that, you will want to dig out some of the sprouts.  These sprouts can be replanted in a new location (on your property or someone else's!) or put into a compost pile for future fertilizer.

June-bearing raspberries with tops trimmed off

The canes of summer-bearing raspberries die the fall/winter after they have produced fruit.  These spent canes become a liability to next year's harvest immediately after they are done fruiting.  They consume energy that the plant could otherwise be investing in the canes that will produce next year, therefore it is in your best interest to cut the spent canes off at the ground after harvest is done for the year.  Early in the spring before the leaves break bud, you can trim the top 3 inches or so off the canes to encourage branching and thus a bigger harvest.

Ever-bearing raspberries with all canes cut off & this year's 1st shoot already starting

Fall-bearing raspberries can be handles two different ways.  I cut all of my fall-bearing raspberries off at ground level late in the fall or early in the spring every year.  I do this because I've read & I believe that I do get a better single harvest each fall.  The other benefits are, the fall harvest is it is usually in late August and into September and I'm less likely to need to protect the fruit from birds and insects, and also simplicity!  I don't have to figure out which canes are spent and which are this season's... they are all cut off every year!

The other fall-bearing maintenance method is like that of the summer-bearing raspberries, where the individual spent canes are each cut off after the midsummer harvest leaving the new canes to bear in the fall.  Because the raspberries have to invest energy into two fruit seasons, neither season is quite as productive as one.  The benefit of this concept is, if you have a cool fall or early fall frost, you will have already gotten some raspberries earlier in the year.  (I have eliminated this factor by having both summer- and fall-bearing raspberries.)

"Happy" fall-bearing raspberry canes can grow to be 3-5 ft tall their first year.  If you find your plants are pushing the 5 ft mark, you may want to trellis or stake them up in some way.  This keeps the fruit from weighing the plant down and shading others around it.  In the past I have staked up chickenwire around my everbearing raspberries that I can easily move when I need in to harvest, but I would love to establish some type of permanent 2 or 3 wire trellis/fence that would look nicer.

I hope you find this helpful.  If you have any comments or questions, I would love to hear from you.

Happy Gardening!

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