Growing Raspberries:
How to Grow Raspberries Organically

Growing raspberries is extremely rewarding, especially if you’re new to gardening. With summer- and autumn-fruiting canes, you can have a long season of delicious berries.

What’s more, they’re packed with goodness including Vitamins A, C & E as well as fiber, folate and antioxidants.

Growing Raspberries (Rubus): Plant Snapshot

Growing Raspberries
  • Recommended Varieties:
    • Summer fruiting
      • ‘Encore’ - very large fruit
      • ‘Killarny’ - hardy, attractive plant
      • ‘Latham’ - good for freezing
      • ‘Royalty’ - purple fruit
    • Everbearing
      • ‘Autumn bliss’ - good productivity
      • ‘Double delight’ - very hardy
      • ‘Fall gold’ - yellow fruit
      • ‘Heritage’ - attractive plant
      • ‘Josephine’ - large fruit
  • Group with crops from: n/a (perennial)
  • Low winter temperatures that damage fruit plants:
    • Red raspberries -30F (-34 C)
    • Black raspberries -20F (-28 C)
  • Time until plant bears fruit after planting: summer or fall after planting bare root plants
  • Approximate yield per plant: 5.5lbs (2.5kg)
  • Life of plant: Perennial plants with fruit bearing canes lasting two years
  • Companion plants:
    • Companions: Rue
    • Avoid: Planting near wild raspberries and blackberries
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Planting Raspberries

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Raspberries are self-pollinating so you don’t need to plant more than one variety.

Prepare soil well before planting. Choose an open area with plenty of sunlight and good ventilation.

Once raspberries are established, it will be difficult to tidy up any perennial weeds. Make sure any weeds are cleared with any perennial weed roots completely dug out.

The ground should be dug over to at least one spade spit depth. Add organic matter such as garden compost or well-rotted manure before planting. Dig a hole the depth of the bare roots and plant the raspberries so that they are level with the surrounding soil.

There are two distinct types of raspberry that will need slightly different care:

  1. Most are summer-fruiting with a single harvest.
  2. Others are ever-bearing or fall-bearing that produce a later crop in the fall, but also occasionally provide spring fruit.

Summer-fruiting varieties should be planted in early spring as soon as you can work the ground. Plant these raspberries in rows. There should be 24 inches (60cm) between each plant. If you’re having more than one row, leave 8 ft (2.4m) spacing between rows.

Everbearing varieties can be planted in the same way. It’s also possible to plant them in the fall after planting cut their canes back to about 4 inches (10cm) from the ground.

The canes that emerge from the ground for the raspberry fruit to grow on either grow for one or two years depending on the variety. Summer fruiting varieties develop on the previous year’s growth. Later fall fruiting varieties will develop raspberries on their cane’s first year growth.

Snapshot: Planting Raspberries

  • Easiest to grow from: bare root plants
  • Planting timeframe range (varies by climate): Early spring
  • Preferred soil pH (see soil pH tester for more information): 5.5 to 7
  • Spacing in rows: about 24 inches (60 cm)
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Care for & Pruning Raspberry Plants

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Plants will need at least 1.5 inches (4 cm) of water a week during the time between flowering and harvest. They benefit from an annual mulch or compost or manure applied in the spring.

To foster fruit production and keep your plants healthy, prune your raspberries correctly for the variety you’ve planted…

  • Summer red raspberries need pruning twice. The first time is in the spring. Remove weak canes and shorten tall (over 5 feet – 150cm) canes to about 4 feet (120cm). The second pruning removes any canes that have borne fruit after harvest. Use sharp shears to cut them to the ground.
  • You can control fruiting on everbearing varieties based on your pruning technique. To get fruit twice per year, prune canes in spring and fall after fruiting. A more simple technique is to prune all canes once a year in spring.

Raspberries are usually able to withstand winter cold and frosts, although some varieties are more sensitive to the cold. For the less tolerant varieties, protect them by bending the top of the canes over to the ground and scooping just enough soil on top to hold them down.

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Harvesting Raspberries

It’s best to pick your raspberries in the early morning before the sun gets too strong. They’re ready to pick when their color takes on a dusty appearance. They’ll come away easily from the plant when you go to pick them.

Summer varieties will be ready first, followed by everbearing fall crops that can last until late in the autumn, especially if the weather is mild.

Handpick small quantities regularly as they won’t last for long in the refrigerator. If you have large amounts that ripen all at once, freeze for later use.

Snapshot: Harvesting Raspberry Plants

  • Time to harvest: Summer or spring & fall depending on variety
  • Yield per plant/tree: 5.5lbs (2.5kg)
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Storing Raspberries and Freezing Raspberries

Before storing your raspberries you need to remove any that appear damaged or diseased from your harvest. Raspberries won’t last beyond a day if left unrefrigerated. They’ll last up to three days if refrigerated.

Don’t wash them until you’re ready to eat them if you’re storing them in the fridge.

For longer-term storage, raspberries freeze well. Wash them in a colander, then remove the stems and gently place the fruit into a container for freezing. Allow room for them to expand up to ten per cent when frozen.

Snapshot: Storing & Freezing Raspberries

  • Storage temperature: Refrigerate at 32-36 F (0-2 C) or Freeze
  • Storage life (refrigerator): Up to 3 days
  • Storage life (frozen): Up to 1 year
  • Storage humidity: 90 to 95%
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Growing Raspberries: Pests & Diseases

growing raspberries

Everbearing raspberries do not lose as many fruit to birds as summer-fruting varieties. To control a bird problem, summer fruiting varieties are sometimes grown in fruit cages. These structures use netting fitted across a frame to keep the birds out.

If your raspberry plants develop rusts, this cannot be cured. Dig up and dispose of the crown and canes of diseased plants so that other plants don’t become infected. Look for weak or distorted leaves and shoots. When new leaves are unfolding in the spring they may be misshapen and have some colored pustules.

If you have a Japanese beetle problem, companion planting with the herb rue help will help to deter them.

The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Raspberry Plants. For more information about preventing and controlling them, see Organic Garden Pest Control.

Pests

  • Blackberry psyllid
  • Borers
  • Japanese beetles
  • Nematodes

Common Diseases

  • Anthracnoses
  • Cane blight
  • Crown Gall
  • Downy Mildew
  • Leaf spot
  • Powdery Mildew
  • Root Rot
  • Rust
  • Verticilium Wilt
  • Viruses
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