I don't understand raspberry longevity

Coconut_Head(5b)April 17, 2012

So I have a nice raspberry hedge on it's 3rd year. 10 rooted canes were donated to my by my wifes grandparents. I don't know the variety, but it produces a summer and fall crop and I prune it accordingly. However, I keep reading that the plants will bear for about 10-12 years. But why? What makes them stop bearing? I am removing 2nd year canes after they bear thier summer fruit, so why wouldn't the roots stay alive indefinately and just keep shooting up new canes year after year?

I currently have about 100 flourocanes left from last fall and there seems to be another hundred or so primocanes busting on up this spring. I don't even know if I will be in my current house for 10 years, but does it go from the date of transplant? If I dig some runners out and transplant them to a different area will it reset the 10 year count? I guess I just don't understand the mechanism for the plants to stop producing.

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If I recall, it doesn't so much mean 10 years from the seed start, but rather about 10 years from the cutting being planted in that spot.

While it doesn't fall over and die, I think they just stop producing fruit at a decent rate.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 2:30PM
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In my parents house we used to have a patch of raspberries that was planted by my grandfather. Plants were still growing strong 50 years later. There were multiple varieties, but all summmer bearing. They travelled a little, so patch was gradually moving, but mostly the same location. We used to collect several gallon size buckets of raspberries every other day. This was a serious job for us kids during approx 6 weeks in summer.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 5:03PM
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alan haigh

But raspberry patches do often burn out. Soil born diseases often eventually wipe them out- especially in a humid climate. There are also a lot of virus issues with brambles.

After over 20 years I have a Heritage raspberry patch that is really pretty burned out, finally. This year it becomes a tomato patch. Other varieties have petered out much sooner- but I don't irrigate them and drought creates extra stress.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 5:16PM
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Harvestman, could you transplant some of the healthier looking of the old patch to a new location and rejuvinate it that way? It would seem to me that at some point all raspberry plants would be old. Do you need to start new patches from seed rather than crowns? Is it feasable to do such a thing? Or do people just generally buy new rootstock every 10-20 years or so. I am mainly interested in learning how to exist without having to buy things from stores. I may never get to 100% self sustaining, but the more I can learn and implement, maybe one day I could get there.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 8:52AM
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H'man, I don't think I'd plant tomatoes where raspberries have been. One of the likely culprits of your berries' decline is verticillium wilt, which is shared w/all solanaceae--possibly fusarium as well.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 10:08AM
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When the 2nd canes are done fruiting do they actually die off quickly or slowly, is there such a thing as a three year cane?

I ask because it will be my second year with raspberries and am anticipating post harvest questions i might have.

I have both summer and ever-bearing varieties in the same bed, I plan to treat (pruning regime) them all as summer bearing and want two crops every year.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 10:14AM
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alan haigh

Brook, my recollection is the concern is for tomatoes infecting brambles and not the other way around, but in any case, I just don't have enough unused ground that gets early morning sun, which I know I need for tomatoes here. Early bight is a constant- VW is a much lesser concern.

Coconut, if there is a problem with virus, no. That would be transferred, but about other disease issues I suspect it all depends.

Brambles are not my specialty. When I first started growing fruit I had a 5 year love affair with them but as my tree fruit came into productivity I lost most of my interest because I get much better bang per buck of effort with trees- I don't like having to frequently replant. Only the fall bearing raspberries have reasonable duration here. Also my nursery and orchard care business is 99% about fruit trees.

If I lived in the coastal west I'd be more into them, I'm sure. They are so much more productive where summers don't get hot, besides blackberries, which succumb to diseases here after a few years.

With healthy plants, canes of fall bearers like Heritage live 2 years (if they survive winter) but die after the second crop the following summer. At that time new canes are well established to provide another fall crop(actually more late summer than fall). Other Raspberry canes die after bearing fruit the second year.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 10:55AM
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I have two smaller patches that are both about 25 years old and do fine. I have had a few small areas in each die out, so I just tranplanted young canes back in the from the edges to fill it in.

If you take good care of them, fertilize, treat for diseases, they can go a long time.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 1:35PM
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I think a key to a long-lived raspberry patch may be a robust application of compost. I started my raspberry patch in 1975 with plants from a friend and every year they come through for us. You remove a considerable amount of biomass when old canes are cut out and over time, the soil loses a lot of nutrients, especially nitrogen. I chip old canes and compost them with everything else (horse manure, lawn clippings, veggies, etc.). In early spring, I spread several inches of compost back into the patch. This tends to promote impressive laterals loaded with berries.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 6:58AM
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