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9-02 Nicole Sanchez

Raspberries are an ideal fruit to grow in the Klamath Basin’s climate, and relatively easy to cultivate a fruitful harvest.

Raspberries are one of the easier fruits to grow in the Klamath Basin, and their care and maintenance is now even easier with the guidance provided in the latest home fruit growing guide from OSU Extension, Growing Raspberries in the Home Garden.

This free guide includes suggestions for selecting the right cultivar for your growing conditions, care tips based on the type, and basic information on the most common problems of raspberries. Like most fruits, numerous cultivars, “cultivated varieties,” of raspberries have been developed, adaptations for performing in different climates and situations. Proper cultivar selection is crucial to success with fruit growing, and is covered in depth: readers will also find more information on the five raspberry care tips outlined in brief below.

Understanding fruiting habits

Raspberries are cane- forming plants- meaning that over the years, numerous upright stems will be formed, rather than one large, single trunk. Rather than fruiting for multiple years off the same branch, as on an apple tree, canes must continuously be renewed by pruning to the ground to allow for the formation of new canes. Without pruning, cane forming plants become a thicket that is difficult to manage or harvest fruit from.

Raspberries are divided into two fruiting habits, called primocane — fruiting and floricane- fruiting. While confusing at first, the fruiting habit is important to understand because it dictates much of the management strategy associated with a particular berry patch — when harvest will be ready, when to prune, how to prune, and how to care for the plants in winter all vary depending on the fruiting habit.

Great foundations- Soil nutrition

Raspberries prefer soil that is slightly acidic, drains well, and has organic matter content above 3%. If these don’t naturally exist in your garden, soil amendments may be necessary, and are reasonably easy to achieve. Proper pH and organic content enable the plants to absorb nutrition more efficiently. Guidelines for when and how much to fertilize are also provided.

Trellising techniques

The best trellis is dependent upon fruiting habit: any raspberry need support for healthy growth and easier harvest. Two common types of trellising are “T” style, and permanent trellising with removable wires that make cane removal easier. Trellis style, and orientation to prevailing winds, are worth considering for perennial crops like raspberries. Canes that break in high winds, for instance, can result in reduced harvest — as well as entry points for insects and disease.

Pruning your plants

One challenge for newer gardeners is the idea of pruning back entire canes- it seems extreme but is the best way to insure plenty of canes and berries in following years. Again, a system for distinguishing between primocanes and floricanes is crucial to success. No one wants to prune away next year’s fruit! Some cultivars can be managed for two harvests per year. These will be cut differently than when being managed for a single crop. Pictures and instructions are provided in detail in the growing guide.

Enjoying the harvest

When to pick is a common question: raspberries release easily from their receptacle when ripe, and this is the best time to pick. Raspberries are usually picked every few days in season, as they don’t all ripen at the same time. When rain is forecast, picking fruit that is almost ripe, but requires a bit of a tug, is suggested. This practice helps gardeners avoid mushy, watery fruit, and some rot and disease problems that accompany overly wet fruit.

Stay tuned for additional publications in this home fruit growing series- a similar document on blueberries is forthcoming. Once your thirst for raspberry growing info has been satisfied, don’t forget to brush up on general gardening trivia for the Klamath Gardening Trivia Tournament beginning September 11. Here’s the link to register for that event: www.eventbrite.com/e/klamath-gardening-trivia-tournament-tickets-118500687747.

- Nicole Sanchez is horticulture faculty at OSU’s Klamath Basin Research and Extension Center. For more information on this or other gardening topics, contact Sanchez at 541-883-7131 or Nicole.sanchez@oregonstate.edu.