Best black raspberry

glenn_russell(6b RI)July 6, 2010

Hi All-

As I consider replacing some of my raspberries, I think I may want to add another black raspberry. I currently have Jewel, which I like. The berry are good size, and good tasting. But, they are very thorny, the birds like 'em more than the reds/yellows, and my biggest complaint is that they're difficult to separate from the stem, even when they are ripe. My question is... are other blacks easier to separate? I admit that sometimes I'll pick them at 95% black/ripe because I'm afraid of loosing them to the birds. But even the occasional 100% ripe berry still doesn't want to separate, and I usually get the stem coming with the berry. I picked a Bristol the other day at the local nursery, and it seemed to come off fine. Do other blacks separate better than Jewel? Favorites? -Glenn

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Sometimes there is a condition where the blackcap will only moosh off the stem, but I have never had a normal ripe Jewel blackcap come off stubbornly. I've never had a stem come off with the berry.

Try bagging a cluster or two (anti-birds) and letting them go and see if they eventually pluck easier. There is a phase with nearly all caneberries where the berry hangs before dropping. You don't have to resort to that extreme, but even a slightly loose berry is obvious. If your Jewels do not go through that phase, it is strange.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 10:58PM
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glenn_russell(6b RI)

Ok, good info Larry. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 7:32AM
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I have a few Jewel plants. They do tend to crack a few of the drupelets off. They leaving them behind and do not release from receptacle. I see this happen a fourth of the time to my Jewel berries.

The old varieties like John Robertson, Bristol & Mac Black that I have never have this problem of breaking off drupelets. They pull off clean. But I do get too aggressive, sometimes I pick an under ripe berry and it breaks the stem leaving the caylx & receptacle attached. Most years, it is only a dozen or so this happens to. To get the stem off after the stem breaks, I carefully bite the tip of the stem and pull the berry off.

I found that I get more (pints of) berries off the older varieties than Jewel. The biggest drawback is for the first four days of picking, the berries are small on the older varieties. After day four, they swell up bigger. No matter how much I water them it does not help this problem. I do like Mac Black since the never start out small & extend the berry season.
Thorns, yes they have all have lots of thorns. I'm still looking for purple raspberries called Glencoe from SCRI to be available in the states. Glencoe is spine free canes. I would love to try them.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 1:33PM
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think you might have one of the best ones jewel, i grow all my black raspberries in a polytunnel in the uk, jewel is the biggest and ok flavour, i also have bristol and cumberland, berries are smaller and again taste is ok, i have grown out a few of my own black raspberry experiments 1 plant of which is very promising, ive named voodoo, which is a tiny bit bigger than jewel and good flavoured, ill send you some pics glenn via email,
the glen coe thats metioned is really good, again ill send pics gleen and you can post them up, stew

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 1:49PM
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glenn_russell(6b RI)

It's good to hear that someone else has a problem with Jewel sticking to the receptacle, and that other varieties are might be better here. I wonder where we could find GlenCoe? I'm not overly impressed with the flavor of my purple Royalty's... They're not bad, but certainly not up to an Anne, Caroline, Prelude or Jewel.

Hi Swaine-
Thanks for the below pics! It's good to know that I have one of the good varieties. Thanks for the input! -Glenn


"Glen Coe"

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 5:09PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I have also found my Bristol a bit easier to get off than the Jewels, but not overly so. I have found them to be pretty similar in taste; the Jewels are supposed to be bigger but for me the Bristol are bigger, possibly due to location or age of plants.

I agree on your Royalty blahs, mine were pulled several years ago.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 7:08PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

I only have experience with Jewel, but haven't had any problem getting them off the canes. Mine have always pull right off.

This year the birds got most of them. Sorry Glenn, but I shed no tears for the egg flavored fruit.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 10:18PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Old thread but this came up in another thread. GlenCoe is now available here too. I have to pick one of those up!
A new player is around now Niwot! The primocane fruit is bigger than Jewel, but the floricane is smaller.
I'll have a taste probably next year. Only one good size primocane. A few canes growing, here is a photo of the plant, it was windy.
The tomato cage was to keep the dog from stepping on it, and well me too! I stepped on my Thimberry-raspberry hybrid. I knocked off the only cane too! It is growing another. I should remove the cage now, it's big enough.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 2:21PM
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I probably have a week at most left on my Jewel black raspberries but the primocanes are a lot larger this year. After summer topping them a couple of weeks ago, the lateral branches are shooting in every direction. I think I mentioned in another post that I wasn't that thrilled with the Jewel flavor but it may improve in the second year.

The single, potted Blackhawk black raspberry that I neglected since last year actually had a better tasting berry, but it too had pretty small berries this year. Since it potted in a smaller container, the new canes are not as large or vigorous.

I have a Mac Black bed planted and although not as vigorous as Jewel, the berries look to be larger. This variety is a good 2 weeks behind Jewel in my climate.

I have Royalty purple raspberry starting to ripen and plan on making my first batch of jam / jelly with those. They are better for processing than fresh eating.

Finally, I picked up 4 Glencoe purple raspberries earlier this year before everyone ran out of it, but these are only about 8-12" tall now because they arrived as a tissue culture 2" pot. I'm still trying to figure where to plant them.

Drew51 - Let me know how your Allen black raspberries taste.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 9:53PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

I added Jewell this year, it was a replacement, last year it never took. Anyway, the floricane has a few berries, as I will be able to compare taste to Allen. Neither is ripe yet.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 10:14PM
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My Niwot's are my first "purchased" black raspberry and look forward to a fall bearing variety. All my life though I have enjoyed wild blackcaps as they grow everywhere. Is there REALLY a difference in taste or productivity between these Named varieties?? Can you tell the difference between a bowl of Jewel or Allen berries (or wild berries for that matter) in taste or appearance??

For me I think location is the biggest factor. The same wild plant grown on my property is nowhere near as productive in growth or berry size as the same one grown at my fathers 10 minutes away. There the canes grow huge sometimes up to an inch thick, 10' long and loaded with large juicy berries... especially when partially shaded. He has much better soil than I do though.

Is it more just disease resistance that these named ones benefit from?


    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 9:50AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

With blacks I doubt you will have much difference. Here the wild blacks are very small. When I saw yours I was surprised at the size! I think the domestic might produce more. My Allen first floricanes (ever) have over 400 berries. The primocanes look three times as large now. I expect a 1000 berries off one plant next year. Well maybe not that many, but well over 400. I get about 300 off the reds. I never really counted them though. I always stopped at about 150, as so many it was silly!
If you get 400 off a plant then their is little difference.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 11:48AM
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I like jewel for both vigor and flavor, but man do i hate the the prickles.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 1:33PM
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Drew do you prune to force laterals to increase productivity??

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 3:06PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

"Drew do you prune to force laterals to increase productivity?? "

Yes, but have yet to do it this year. I should, it's just surrounded by floricanes, my patch is almost wild. Thank goodness it's in a raised bed, all that restricts it. Berries are starting to turn color, it will not be long.
When I head a primocane it does produce multiple laterals. But it's such a thicket, some berries may go unpicked as I can't see or find them. When I move I will have the patch by itself so I can mange it better. I have other raised beds attached, and it looks great, but hard to manage. Here is one lateral of about 4 on one cane of about 4 canes.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 4:33PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

The plant is so dense, it's hard to know what is what!

To the left are the new primocanes at about 6 feet.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Sun, Jun 22, 14 at 8:08

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 4:44PM
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Drew, those Jewels look incredible! How high do you let them get before you top them?

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 7:16AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

That is an Allen black raspberry. Sorry for not being clear. I would like to cut them now! But I think I'm going to wait till I harvest floricanes. That way new laterals will have room to grow. The berries should be ripe in about 2 weeks.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 8:12AM
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When you summer top your Allen's at that height, you will probably have to tie them to your trellis wire or they may just fall over since the lateral branches tend to sprout from the top of the cane, making it pretty top heavy. That's especially true when you add fruit to them next year.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 8:29AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Yeah last year I noticed it was the laterals that tip rooted. Yes, I'll tie them up. Hopefully I have room to work. I need to remove some of the canes no doubt.
The berries are turning red. Prelude, and Himbo Top already had ripe berries, beat the blacks!
I can't wait till the floricane finish fruiting so I can see better, and remove the weak primocanes and such, make some room in there!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 9:08AM
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I just cleaned out my Jewel black raspberries today. They seem to be growing OK, but I hope the larger primocanes this year result in better quality fruit next year.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 4:34PM
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Had a couple of my Royalty Purple raspberries today and they taste better than I recall last year. The berries are also a lot bigger than the average raspberry and probably 4-5 times the size of a black raspberry. Last year I only had a couple since they popped out on the cane handles after planting. Since I have bird netting over them this year, I'm planning on making some jelly or jam with them which will be a first for me.

The Cascade Delight red raspberries are a couple of days away from fruiting too. This will be a 'baby' crop but the berries are huge for a raspberry. I saw one extra large berry this morning that had to be close to 10 grams. I'm still waiting for a ripe one to try though.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 5:20PM
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Sorry, my misunderstanding - they certainly look vigorous! I'm jealous of you already having berries ripe - my jewels and bristols are only finishing up their flowering now, so it'll still be a few weeks for me to have them; my fall golds were first to bloom, so they might be first.

Speaking of summer topping, I just pruned one of my glencoes; it had already been lateral branching before that, if you can believe it, though not near the top, just 2/3 of the way up.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 9:14PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a


Cool about Royalty! I had one delivered as a replacement. After hearing bad reports I didn't want it, but I can't get myself to kill a healthy plant, so I planted it.
Small at present, but glad I did now!


I want one of those Glencoe's too. I have to find a spot for it. Sounds like a winner from others, and it's difficult to get those UK types here, only the best end up here, so it must be good.

Usually one wants to maximize production, but with so many canes I have been looking at limiting production. I really need more room!

I really like Fall Gold, it's a cool cultivar, it makes great jam!

Hey on jam, if you use lemon juice (2-4 tsp), some lemon zest (.5-1 tsp), and grate some apple in the batch (1/3-1/2 apple), you can use less sugar. If you never made jam, often the instructions tell you not to limit sugar Well you can reduce sugar, but sometimes it does not gel. If that happens just heat it up again add more sugar, more pectin.
A product called Pomona uses calcium, and the amount of sugar does not matter.You don't have to use any! It makes it slightly cloudy, calcium is used to gel. It works well. But I have got low sugar raspberry jam to gel. Even if a light gel, I do not like jam with loads of sugar. I use 1 cup at the most to 2 cups prepared fruit. Also you can buy a strainer fine enough to remove seeds if desired. I use a pistil to force raspberries through strainer. First though add 1/4 cup water, fruit, heat up but do not boil, crush fruit with potato masher, then strain fruit.

Also a good jam is kiwi-blackberry, yum! Put kiwi in blender. Strain seeds out of blackberries. Same way as raspberries, heat, mash, strain. \
At this point follow recipe. The secret to getting a good gel is boiling it properly. This takes practice. The more you boil it, the more you break down the good stuff, so a hard boil from 5- 15 minutes, no longer, unless you need to, but at this point the jam is losing nutrition. The more you make the better you get at it. Keep it stirred not to scorch!
A little secret if it doesn't want to gel, add a touch more sugar, this at times forces a gel.
Use cold spoon to test, dip it in, and see if it gels, it is hard to get right.
Check many recipes online
Often when boiling, the fruit starts to look oily, it is starting to gel, it needs 3 or so more minutes, and it should be good.
Since you have to add some sugar, using just ripe berries is best. Not over ripe, just ripe is best.

Raspberries have a lot of pectin, strawberries do not. I made strawberry jam today. I used the Pomona product so I could limit sugar. I used 1/2 cup.Came out great!
I also blended it before making, I don't like chunks.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 10:12PM
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Drew51 - Thank you for the advice on jam! I'm going to try to make some this week.

The Royalty purple raspberries are large plants with large (for a raspberry) berries. The berries have a mild flavor with a black raspberry-like after taste. They are also very productive.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 8:06AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

I kept himbo top around, as that cultivator is very productive. taste was just OK, but like Royalty they tasted better this year. A fall bearing and I kept one cane overwinter of 4 plants, and it was the very first to ripen, beating Prelude even. Glad I did it is turning into a good cultivar. Better than last year, and really throws out the berries. More are ripe today.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 8:33AM
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Drew - Thanks for the jam info too! I think this will be a good year for me to try it out, as I'm expecting quite a few pounds of red raspberries.

I had some of my coworker's royalty berries last year- they were a little underwhelming to me but this will be my first year with my own royalties - I'm hoping they'll taste a little different. If nothing else, I'll have tons of them for pies / jam - I have an amazing number of flowers on it now!

I'm jealous of both anyone with berries already ripe - we get a late start to the growing season in Maine - my first raspberry flowers didn't open until June 7th this year.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 9:02AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Drew, do you remove seeds from your raspberries? I have a food mill with a berry seed filter and I might try that on some jam or sorbet from my Bristols I just harvested.

BTW if you have lots of fruit its worth thinking about getting an ice cream maker, you can make some out of this world sorbets with a lot less work than making jam.


    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 10:09AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Yes, making ice cream would work for me, thanks for the tip. I also have a food mill but use it for tomatoes mostly. I have a simple strainer for berries. I could use the mile too, probably is better. The strainer removes pulp too, which I like to keep. I actually never used the food mill yet, it is new. Most places sell strainers fine enough to capture seeds, Yes, I do remove seeds. They are really good for you. Raspberries seeds have a chemical known to suppress cancer tumors, If the jam was for me alone I would leave them, but I give most of it away.
I guess I eat the most strawberries and raspberries with greek yogart. Nuts work too! So good!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 11:35AM
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I had to harvest a bunch of TC blackberries yesterday because I was out of town and didn't harvest them for a couple of days, so they started to get overripe. I also noticed that the softest ones were getting fruit fly larva, so I cleaned out all of the ripe ones and had to freeze them, over 6 lbs of them. That's in addition to another 2lbs I had froze earlier.

So my question pertaining to jam, since I have a lot of over ripe TC blackberries, which are already sweet, what can I do to make the jam as flavorful as possible? I thought I read on the forums that someone suggested adding a few 'red' blackberries to even out the sweetness.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 9:55PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Hey JT!
Yes, that would work! Wild blackberries also have a lot of acid. It's an acid-sweet balance you want. I guess you could add lime or lemon juice to the mix too.
I'm making wild black raspberry jam tomorrow. Some of the Allen cultivar will be added too.
Also some wild reds. I can't forage enough of them for a full batch. I put them in the fridge to thaw. I save them up, as often one forage round is not enough. The wilds here are very small, but extremely flavorful. The wild blackberries are OK, but they are very sour so I mix them with mulberries, blueberries, or kiwi (liquefied in blender).
I like the mixes a lot, they are very good. I have mulberries foraged, just waiting for the wild blackberries to ripen. I'll probably need to make a 2nd batch with blueberries too. Lot's of wild blackberries around.


    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 11:16PM
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This is my Bristol Black Raspberry, 2nd year growth. It produced about a quart of berries this spring and its growth has gotten out of hand. I tip pruned the four main canes early at about 4ft (top wire of trellis is ~5ft) and quite a number of laterals were formed. The laterals were tipped about 2 ft and the laterals produced laterals which have grown another 3-5 ft and about soda straw in size. Tipping these laterals result in still more laterals. Since the photo, I have pruned the laterals to prevent them from touching the ground. Question: How to properly manage this jungle.
BTW, one of the new canes produced a lateral which had some 8-10 berries a month or more after the main production, much like an everbearer. I also had the same thing happen with a Tripple Crown Blackberry - it still has a few berries now in mid August.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 5:09PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

They are hard to manage! My Allen grew thick the 2nd year and the laterals sprouted really high on the plant. It's easier this year to manage. It had a primo cane fruit too. I think these plants are so genetically mixed, who knows what can happen?
Yeah Allen reminds of a firework going off with mulriple streams at the top. the canes are so thick even the laterals are erect in the air.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 6:09PM
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Mine are crazy like this too! I'm going to tiplayer a few of the laterals this Fall and put in a few more Jewel and Black Mac black raspberry plants for next year.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 8:41PM
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I did that last year and 2 or 3 other daughter plants which are exhibiting the same characteristics, but on a smaller scale.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 12:18AM
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How do you manage the plant, when, and what does it look like after pruning? I am considering just letting it go and do butchering when it is unconscious this winter.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 12:32AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Bill, Good idea, maybe late- winter early spring. To avoid any possible winter damage.It's when I plan to shape mine.
Last year I was forced to prune early as laterals tip rooted by themselves all over the place! Yikes! It's not doing that this year.As soon as I saw them I cut the laterals back. This year laterals are really not growing crazy wild. Go figure...

I have two more I added this year. Too small to prune at all. Jewel and Niwot. Niwot is a primocane fruiting black raspberry. the first commercial cultivar. The primocanes have flowers and will fruit in about a month. Barely making it before first frost. In the description it mentions late fruiting the first year, so hopefully it will fruit earlier next year. I will treat it like an everbearing red. I will remove top 1/3 after fruiting and take the summer harvest too, next year.

Here is some important info.
This year my reds over produced primocanes. Both the summer bearing and everbearing. probably in response to the harsh winter. I asked MSU about pruning them out early instead of the usual late winter pruning. I usually also prune weak and crowded canes out late winter. I was worried about the competition for light weakening all canes.They said wait till 3 feet tall then you can. So I did. And few came back, and the ones left grew very large, 6 to 7 feet! Now the fall fruiting primocanes are giant and producing loads of fruit. Best fall crop on the everbearing I ever had. And the summer bearing are huge too. Starting to form laterals without any pruning. Pretty cool!

So thinning of new primocanes once 3 feet is really a good idea as surviving canes appreciate the chance to reach full potential.

I did this with Allen black too. it produce 15 primocanes, that's a crazy amount. I thinned them to 9 canes. Last year I only had 3 canes and got hundreds of berries. I expect thousands next summer!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 12:57AM
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I pruned my black raspberries once in early summer at 3ft and then I'll prune the laterals back in late winter to about 1ft or less. If you wait until after the coldest weather passes, you would have a better idea of the cold damage and prune accordingly. Next year, IâÂÂm going to have to tie up the laterals because as you noted they grow too long and become difficult to control.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 9:24AM
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I have jewel and bristol; I topped the primocanes around 2' then let the laterals grow - some are now over 6' long. This is the second year they've been in the ground and they're much more robust this year - some primocanes are almost an inch across at the base!

I plan on pruning the long laterals back in early spring before the buds have broken (here, late March or early April) to between 2' and 4', depending on where it fits on my supports. I had wooden posts last year with clothesline, which really started to sag under all the weight of the laterals, fruit, etc. so I'm not sure if I'll keep it or upgrade it for next year.

I also got a cutting of a hard-to-find variety, earlisweet (or earlysweet) that I'm estabilishing roots on now, and will have in the ground hopefully by fall so it can over-winter there and grow well next spring. Will have to wait until summer 2016 to taste it, though!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 10:35AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Here is a photo of the top of Allen. All laterals formed above the 2nd wire which is at about 5 feet.

I mentioned thinning in early spring. here is Polka, the fall crop on one of the canes. Notice it developed 3 or 4 large lateral branches, each with berries. This cultivar is really producing. Last year It had lack luster 1st year production. Each cane has multiple laterals for the fall crop. Huge too! Impressive production this year.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Thu, Aug 21, 14 at 23:16

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 2:25PM
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Your raspberry plants look great...good color! Most of my raspberries are low producers and have not been overly vigorous (except Royalty). I think I'm going to have to rehab a couple of beds and then replant them. I'm not sure if it would be better to start with fresh stock or replant with what I dig up.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 7:58PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

They are in full sun and I do feed them a lot. Not just the raspberry beds but all my beds seem to have really dwindled down. 4-6 inches are just gone! Organic matter consumed! I need to buy about 25 bags on compost to replenish them. I use control release fertilizer (dynamite), Holly-Tone, and alfalfa meal. I'll mix those with the compost, and hit them again with Holly-Tone before the fall crop.
Another shot of the bed. the cage is around a blueberry plant that is still producing. A tomato plant is in front of it.
On the right end of the raspberry bed is prelude. A very vigorous plant!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 8:44PM
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So when your beds compact, can you add the organic matter on top or do you need to somehow blend it into the underlying material? That's my problem with a couple of raspberry beds where the organic matter has been used up and I'm left with hard clay which restricts the plants from growing as vigorously as possible. If I can just drop it in over top of the harder soil, that would be easier. I had planned on digging up the plants during dormancy, tilling the beds and amending the soil with organic matter.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 10:16PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

In your case, it would probably be better to dig it up. It's a really good question! My local soil is decent, it can support them on it's own. It's a problem I have in my strawberry bed as I can't really add to the top. I have seen the raspberries grow underneath the raised bed and pop up in other beds. So they went down 12 inches, then came up 12 inches. So I figure they will get the nutrients if just put on top.
I do plan maybe next year to dig what strawberries I plan to keep, and redo the bed. I'm going to leave that bed go another year. It's not as low as the other as I filled it well when constructed, it was overflowing with soil.

Do I think it would work just adding to the top of your bed? yes I do. Would it work better if you dug it up? Probably, but you will face this time and again.
Maybe experiment and try both and see what happens.
Also as long as your plants don't seem to have a virus, the current canes should respond to better nutrition. I don't see starting with new stock would really be better.

One raspberry patch I have is in local soil, and all my blackberries are in local soil. I add compost with fertilizer to the top.

The blackberry patch

The in ground raspberry patch
. The leaves are not as green, but this is an east wall. They only get morning and early afternoon light. By about 1:30, the sun is off of them. Considering that, they look great! The blackberries in ground get more light, and as you can see are a darker green.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Thu, Aug 21, 14 at 23:06

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 11:01PM
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jtburton & Drew51

Thanks folks -- some good info. Here in North AL we have had a very mild and wet summer, but getting into the mid 90's now. I'm going to be out of pocket for the next 2-3 weeks -- going on a tour of Scandinavia and will miss some of the upcoming hot days.

A bit of other info - In spring 2013, I planted 6 varieties of thornless blackberries, 4 hybrid blackberries, the Bristol, Cumberland, Purple Royality & Lathan raspberries and added a couple red raspberries this year. I already had Dormanred and Heritage raspberries. Have not kept good notes, but will put up some general observations re. each after I return.

BTW, my basic soil is red clay, but have highly supplemented with compost and keep 3-4" of wood chips over and have irrigation.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 11:52AM
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