Planting raspberries is a great way to enjoy this fruit at home. Raspberries are well adapted to California’s cool coastal climate. An exception that enjoys heat is the ‘Bababerry’ named variety. When planting raspberries, remember that they require deep, well-drained soils and adequate moisture to produce good crops of berries.
Cultivars are divided into 4 groups by the fruits’ color – red, golden yellow, black or purple. The fruit is closely related to, and for the most part, cultivated like the blackberry, with some notable differences.
The fruit itself is different from the blackberry in that when the fruit is plucked from the plant, the stem stays on the plant and the fruit, or ‘druplets’ separate easily to form a cup-like fruit.
Red raspberries are of two types, summer-bearing (the most common) and fall bearing. Summer bearing varieties are like blackberries in that they produce primocanes (new growth) one season, and the floricanes, or fruiting wood, produce fruit the second season.
Fall bearing types are similar, but the first flush of fruit occurs in the fall on the upper part of each cane, and the canes can be left until spring when they produce a second crop from the lower parts of the same cane.
Summer bearing types are: Canby, Chilliwack (some root rot resistance), Comox, Hiada (some root rot resistance), Meeker, Sumner (does well in heavy soil), and Willamette (produces a late fall crop).
Fall bearing types are: Amity, August Red, Autumn Bliss, Bababerry, Fall Red, Heritage, Indian Summer and Summit.
Golden-Yellow types are: Fall gold (subject to virus infection), Golden Harvest and Honey Queen.
Black (or Black Cap) Raspberries are: Bristol, Cumberland and Munger (cannot tolerate wet roots).
Purple Raspberries are hybrids of black and red raspberries, grow much like blackberries, and make excellent pies because of their distinctive flavor. Favorite varieties are: Royaly, Brandywine (tart, great for baking) and Amethyst (no root suckers).
Propagation of Raspberries
Berries can be easily propagated from root suckers. These are broken or cut off the main plant and transplanted. Plant the new roots with the top of the root crown 1” to 2” deep; any deeper and the new shoots may not have the energy needed to break through the soil.
Raspberries can be planted in ‘hedgerows’ with plants 1’ to 2’ apart. Remove any side sucker that creep out into the aisles between rows.
Soil requirements are the same as blackberries, and they also benefit from planting in raised beds to discourage wet roots and diseases. Fertilization and irrigation are also the same as for blackberries. Pruning is also the same as for blackberries, with the exception of the fall-bearing varieties.
Fall-bearing varieties may be grown in one of two ways. You can grow for a fall crop only and mow the berries after they fruit. New canes will form to produce the next year’s crop, or you can grow for fall and spring crops. If you choose the 2-crop approach, remove the weak and damaged canes, and remove the tops portions of the canes that have already fruited.
Raspberries suffer from the same pests and diseases that affect blackberries.