Newbie raspberry questions

pbl_ge(5/6)January 6, 2013


We're in Western NY (z5/6), and we prepared a bed in the fall for planting raspberries. It's about 20'x 3' with plenty of room around it. Single row for now, although we might expand in the future. Now we just have to get the plants! We've been thinking of getting about 3 varieties, for a total of 7-10 plants, depending on their spacing requirements (I've seen 2' and 3' recommendations).

This is our first time growing raspberries, so I have a few questions:
1. Does anyone have a good source they'd recommend? My usual online veggie source (Johnny's) only sells in sets of 5+, which is too many for us, given that we want some variety. The prices for these vary A LOT. I've seen 1/$25 and 1/$2.50! I know how to interpret that for perennials, but I'm bewildered with raspberry canes.
2. Any particular varieties you'd recommend for this climate? Or ones that would you recommend against?
3. Aside from building up (done), is there any sort of structure (e.g., trellising) that you recommend? We're open to building, but I've seen lots of raspberry stands with no butressing that look just fine.
4. Do you recommend mulching? What kind of mulch?
5. Any other advice/thoughts?

Thanks so much!!!

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I'd recommend Nourse, google their name and "the scoop" to see how highly rated they are.

Here is a link that might be useful: Nourse Farms

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 7:32PM
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Only one general thought, keep your primocane types and floricane types apart from one another, I.E. don't interplant them, this will allow you some flexibility in cropping the 2 types. I prefer to mow the Caroline canes (primocane bearer) down in late Fall to early Winter and then mulch, it is a very simple method. My Purple Royalty (floricane bearer) of course sends up shoots that bear the following year. To me, it is simpler to crop them in separate spaces rather than mixed together in a bed.

If you don't like picking in the heat and like big, fat, delicious berries, try Purple Royalty, mine bear in June long before the smaller Caroline. I like both but PR is my favorite as it is sweeter and a breeze to pick. Also, my PR floricanes have withstood temps down to -15F with very little damage to the subsequent crop and those canes weren't bent down and covered properly (I was lazy that Fall).

My canes came from Miller Nursery and did just fine after planting, obviously they were in good shape when I got them.

BTW, almost all of my raspberries are juiced and blended with the apple juice, wow, it's delicious!

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 7:47PM
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Thanks for this advice! I like the look and reputation of Nourse's, but they only sell in batches of 5+, which would prevent us from getting the variety that we'd like. The Miller's place looks great! This is particularly appealing for a small startup:
Family Berry Patch
We can either extend the bed to accommodate the extras or trade them for other stuff. Any thoughts on that collection?

And here's a dumb question (I DID warn you I'm a newbie!): How can I tell which are the primocane versus floricane? I know that one fruits on last year's wood, and the other fruits on new wood, and that you prune/mow differently based on that, but how tell I can tell which is which? It does not seem standard practice for these companies to identify them in this way. I found this page:
UMN extension
But it doesn't have the Allen variety on it.

Thanks for helping a newbie out!

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 8:52PM
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For one 20' patch it doesn't matter to mix primo/floricane varieties IMO. I recommend you don't mow down your primocane varieties because you will get a spring crop if you don't. If you had lots of berries to manage, then yeah it's easy way to maintain. You can do 20' by hand very quickly.

Here is another place with good reviews that sells individual:

If you read a berry's description they usually tell you what variety it is..

Here is a link that might be useful: Berries Unlimited

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 11:09PM
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Actually I see now Berries Unlimited only has 1 gal for higher prices. Not worth it IMO, they used to sell 4" berries for 1/3 that price.

Try these guys....

Here is a link that might be useful: Indiana Berry

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 11:12PM
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Unless you are sold on reds only, one fun way to use varieties is with different colors of berries. You have options for red, yellow, purple and black raspberries. The yellows tend to be much sweeter than reds and don't have the tartness of the reds (yellows are my fave). I have never grown purples (not hardy in zone 3), but someone has mentioned Purple Royalty and that is a highly recommended variety. Black raspberries aren't really hardy for me but should be for you. I have grown Wyoming Black with some success and the taste is different from a red raspberry, though much closer to the taste of a red raspberry than a yellow raspberry. Oh, did I mention yellows are my favorite? :). Black raspberries do not taste like actual blackberries BTW.

7 plants in a 20 foot row sounds too few to me, they will establish quicker with more plants, I'd use at least 10 or 12.

Be aware of suckering vs. non-suckering plants. My reds and yellows sucker like crazy -- my neighbors are now growing them too :). That gives me lots of new plants to replace any that die in my 15-20 year-old row, and it certainly helps the row establish quicker, but it can be annoying when they go where they aren't wanted. My Wyoming black don't sucker, just put up new shoots from beside the old crown, which is nice to control their spread but means if I lose either of the two main plants I won't have any suckers to replace them with.

Some points to consider anyway.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 12:34AM
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dmtaylor(5a (WI))

I ordered all my berries from Indiana Berry this year. They will let you buy single plants and their prices were just about the cheapest I'd seen.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 8:09AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I would get two bundles of 5 of two different varieties. There is no big reason in my mind to grow more than two varieties of raspberry, one primocane one floricane, the taste difference is not that large. If you you get two bundles of 5 you can order from Nourse and get the very best quality.


    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 10:05AM
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One thing you might consider in addition to summer or everbearing varieties is ripening times. I like to have a steady supply throughout the year, not a lot all at once. As for support, raspberries need some just to keep them off the ground and to make picking easier. I essentially used the same structure I used on my blackberries, which was overkill. Simple T-posts with heavy duty twine would suffice. Some additional sources I like are Pense, Simmons, and Burnt Ridge. As for mulches, wood chips are great. I also use shredded leaves simply because I have so many of them and they don't mat the way whole leaves or grass clippings do. Straw of any type also works well.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 12:21PM
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This is very helpful. I asked my DH to look through this today, so that we could make this decision together. He said that all he can think of is "YUM."

This will be hard.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 9:30PM
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Hi, all!

Just thought I'd let people know the decisions we made, in case anyone was curious. We decided to go with four raspberries from Indiana Berry: Caroline, Bristol Black, Anne, and Boyne. So an ever-bearing, summer, yellow, and black variety. 3 each. We're very excited.

Thanks for all your help!!!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 11:25AM
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Hi pbl, Just a word of warning your three foot width will be overgrown with branches of your raspberries! I happen to have the same amount of space with only 12 plants. Almost 5 plants to many. I have 'Caroline' raspberries and they really take off! You will get an excellent first year crop from them as well. As all berries do not ripen at the same time, I find sticking with one or two varieties is best, versus handfuls of one varieity at a time. Mrs. G

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 12:13PM
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pbl, sounds like a nice mix. I think I have Fall Gold yellow, but possibly it's Anne (the mind goes first) and love the sweetness of the yellows. I also have Boyne, it's a tough old bird and can get up to 6 feet tall with nice big berries. I've grown Boyne for about 20 years, and only one winter was harsh enough here in zone 3 to really hurt the production the next summer, the other 19 years it has always produced well, so should be no hardiness issues in your zone. Have fun with them!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 1:16PM
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Even though I am relatively new to cane crops I think I can answer your question about how to know who to prune and not to prune. Around this time of year you can see the difference in the stems/canes. Those that have fruited this past year will look dull or even be dead. Those that plan to bloom this next spring/summer will still look alive. In my yard they all tend to have red and purple looking canes in the winter, whereas the dead ones are grey or tan or black. By this time of year they already have buds forming (but I'm in zone 7). You can also see the old dried up fruit clusters on last years spent canes.

The only other thing I have learned is that if you plant one of the aggressive growing black or purple types - it does you no good to allow it to grow super long canes. The fruit quality really falls short after about 8 feet. My 'Cumberland' can send out 15 foot canes. I now prune everyone to 6 feet and even though I harvest fewer berries they are much bigger and better flavored.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 4:52PM
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Anne is great, very sweet. I like Caroline a lot as well. Good choices! Haven't had the others but let them ripen and they all are nature's candy...

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 5:50PM
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Once you see what one and two year canes look like, it is easy to tell what is what.

If you really really want to be sure, paint the base of the canes in the Fall, the following Fall, remove the painted canes and paint the remaining. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 1:35AM
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I just planted raspberries this year, 20' rows of caroline, anne and polka. I will be chopping mine to the ground every fall as I would rather have a heavy fall harvest than an extended, but smaller summer and fall harvest. I plan to make wine and preserves with many of mine. My rows are 6' apart and I hope to till between them every spring to keep them from spreading into each other.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 11:35AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

"We decided to go with four raspberries from Indiana Berry: Caroline, Bristol Black, Anne, and Boyne. So an ever-bearing, summer, yellow, and black variety. 3 each. We're very excited. "

Indiana Berry is an awesome company. The prices are cheap and the canes are magnificent! IMO it beats all others hands down.
Also I disagree about forgoing a summer crop by cutting canes down on everbearing types. I just remove the upper 1/3 and let them fruit again. This year on Fall Gold, I left three canes and have over 40 flower clusters. So that is what people are wasting, at least 150 raspberries on 3 canes. I'll take the fruit thank you much! Here is a photo taken a few seconds ago. As you can see the flower clusters are just starting to open on these everbearing 2nd year floricanes. The top third was cut off last winter. It grew many more laterals this summer that shot straight up!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 1:26PM
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