Modern varieties of Raspberries, seem to have lost the extra sweetness that you find in the “older variety” form of the fruit. You may be lucky to still find this form if you have an old garden or allotment. The fruits are much smaller than on modern varieties and do not seem to be so attractive to the Raspberry Beetle.
There are two main types of Raspberry plant.
SUMMER FRUITING (floricane). Depending on the variety, these usually fruit in July and August. As they fruit on the canes which have grown in year 1, during the following year, it is essential to cut out the fruiting wood in the months after fruiting, and tie in the immature new canes to the wire supports to fruit the following year. You need to tie them in securely to prevent them getting snapped and bashed during Winter gales.
Suggested varieties of Summer fruiting Raspberries.
Tulameen. This variety produces big crops of large pointed berries over a short period of up to 4 weeks. This variety is popular in taste tests.
Glen Magna. This variety produces big crops of very large berries over a longer period of some 6 weeks, thus spreading out the harvest. I would describe the taste as a bit sharp rather than sweet.
Glen Ample. This variety produces fairly large crops of large berries over some 6 weeks. The taste is fairly sweet when fully ripe.
Glen Moy. This variety is usually suggested for an early crop of Raspberries. It produces a medium crop of reasonably sized berries over some 5 weeks with a medium taste.
AUTUMN FRUITING raspberry plants. (primocane). Depending on the variety and weather conditions, their main fruiting period will be August, till November. As they mainly fruit on the new year’s wood in the same year, the usual method is to cut all the old wood out at ground level, as soon as they have finished fruiting. If you have not pruned them in the Winter, you will find that they will fruit for a second time in the early Summer on the old wood. However, as it can lead to such a tangle of stems, it may be easier to prune them out in the early Winter and just have one fruiting period. The taste, size and numbers of Autumn Raspberries, deteriorates as the days get shorter and the temperatures fall.
Independent tests on double cropping of Autumn raspberry plants (ie leaving the old canes to fruit the following Summer), have shown that the total crop is a bit larger than for Autumn cropping alone. It also has the benefit of spreading the cropping period from July to late Autumn.
Suggested varieties of Autumn fruiting Raspberries.
Joan J. This variety produces a big crop of large berries over a long period, often till November when the frosts will stop the fruiting. This variety came top in independent taste tests for Autumn raspberries. Spine free canes.
Autumn Treasure. Produced the highest yield of Autumn raspberries in tests, using the double cropping method. Resistant to mould, a problem in wet and damp weather. Spine free canes.
Polka. Came second in independent taste tests. Produced a smaller crop with some mould in damp weather. Small spines on canes.
Autumn Bliss. The traditional standard variety produces a good crop of medium sized berries over a long period, often till November when the frosts will stop the fruiting. Susceptible to mould in damp and wet weather. Canes have spines.
Purchasing Raspberry Plants. These are usually sold as bare-rooted canes in bundles of 5 to 12. If you are buying from a Garden centre, try and choose healthy looking thicker canes with plump buds. Remember to separate the canes before planting them.
They should be planted in the Winter while the canes are still dormant, at the same depth that they were originally growing at, and after soaking the roots in water for an hour. They should be planted about 45 cm apart, in fertile free-draining ground.
Raspberries need a framework of horizontal wires to be trained against, otherwise they can become a bit unruly. 2 sets of horizontal wires about 1 and 2 m above ground, should be stapled securely to stout 2.5 m long posts, some 2 m apart, standing about 2 m above ground.
Plenty of general fertilizer is needed as all the fruiting wood is renewed each year. A liberal sprinkling of potash fertilizer will help produce plenty of flowers.
As the canes that you buy are usually fairly short, you will only get a few berries just to taste, in the first year from Summer fruiting varieties. You will have to wait to the following year for a good crop.
Pests and diseases.
Net against the birds, watch out for wasps and set up wasp traps. In a very wet year,slugs and snails find their way up the canes and smear their slime over the fruit, but do not seem to actually eat the fruit though it may be spoilt. Some of the Summer fruiting type are prone to virus diseases, either brought in with new stock, (only buy certified stock) or infected by Greenfly.The Autumn types do not seem to be so badly affected by this problem.
The Raspberry Beetle damages the fruit by laying its eggs in the immature fruit, which then develop into grubs. Commercially, they spray at the flowering stage with a pesticide, but I prefer not to spray and instead try to make sure that all ripe fruit is picked as soon as it is ready, which means that fewer Beetles hatch to re-infect the rest of the crop. Unfortunately, the beetle grubs badly disfigure the yellow fruiting varieties, as all too visible in the adjacent photo. Raspberry beetles can also bite if they think that your hand is a tasty fruit! Autumn rasps do not seem to suffer attacks of raspberry beetle as badly as the Summer rasps, but they are not immune.
Weed killer damage to Raspberry plants.
Raspberry canes are particularly susceptible to damage from weed killers. Glyphosate weed killer spray wind-blown onto adjoining raspberry canes, can cause dwarfing and distortion to the leaves or even death of the plant. Leaf damage even shows up the following year as shown in the photo to the left.
Mulching of raspberries using grass clippings containing the hormonal weed killer, clopyralid, or using manure contaminated with aminopyralid causes severe leaf damage and distortion as shown here.
Propagation of Raspberries is carried out by lifting the suckers (young shoots or basal shoots) that pop up some distance from the main plant stems. Only use suckers or canes from plants that are showing absolutely no sign of disease. They can then be replanted in a new bed at the same depth that they were growing before. The new bed should be positioned in an area of ground that has not grown Raspberries for a few years.
Picking of fruit is best carried out at least every two days, and picking may even be necessary every day during the peak fruiting, if the weather is very hot. If possible pick the fruit when it is dry as the fruit will last better with less problems with botrytis. As the fruit is very fragile, transport the fruit as soon as possible and store in the fridge in an open container.
Fruit is best used fresh, such as a topping on breakfast cereals or porridge made without salt. It is also good in fruit salads. The choice is yours! Just go easy on the caster sugar and the double cream!
The second quality of fruit can be used to make jam and jelly(with the pips strained out), ice cream or even a liqueur.