Red Raspberry

By The Old House Web

Red Raspberry

Once established, a red raspberry planting should produce over a number of years. The most productive years are usually the 3rd through the 6th.

A site with some slope to aid water and air drainage is preferred. Protection from wind will help. The junction of the cane and crown is quite weak so strong winds may cause the cane to fall over, especially if the cane is carrying a heavy fruit load. If protection can't be given, a trellis will support the plants.

When possible, red raspberries should be 300 feet away from other cultivated or wild raspberries to help control a serious virus disease. Raspberries should not follow: tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, peppers and other raspberries. These crops are susceptible to verticillium wilt, a soil borne disease that builds up if susceptible crops are grown. Black and purple raspberries are most susceptible.

The best soil is a well drained, slightly acid loam or clay loam although raspberries are fairly tolerant. Avoid sites with a subsoil that prevents good drainage or good root penetration.

Control problem perennial weeds with herbicides before the raspberries are planted.


Plant red raspberries in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. When the plants arrive from the nursery keep them cool or, if they can't be planted right away, they should be heeled in or stored. If stored, the storage area should have a temperature of about 35 degrees.

The plant spacing depends on which of the several possible training systems is used. Don't allow the plants to dry out during planting and plant them about 1 inch deeper than they were growing at in the nursery. The portion of the stem that was below ground is a different color. The hole should be big enough to allow the roots to spread out normally. Firm the soil around the roots and cut the tops back to about 6 inches. Cutting back may be done before or after planting. There can be a heavy loss of newly planted raspberry plants but suckers produced by the surviving plants can be used to fill in gaps.

Training Systems

The hedgerow is the most common system for growing red raspberries. The plants are set 2 1/2 to 3 feet apart in rows from 6 to 10 feet apart. Where space is limited use closer spacings. Suckers will fill in the row but do not allow rows to get wider than 1 to 1 1/2 feet. Wider rows are more difficult to spray and harvest. A 2 wire trellis, with one wire running down each side of the row can be used on windy sites. A single wire, running down the middle of the row and to which plants are tied may also be used. Everbearing varieties especially need support.

To establish the hill system, set plants 5 to 6 feet apart in rows 5 to 6 feet apart. A stake is driven into the ground next to each plant. As the plant produces suckers 5 to 8 healthy, vigorous suckers, spaced at intervals around the stake are kept. The canes produced by the suckers are tied to the stake with 2 or 3 ties during the spring pruning. The tied suckers form roughly triangular outline. The canes are cut back to the height of the stake in the spring.

The linear system is established just as is the hedgerow system. The only difference is that all the suckers produced by the plants are removed. The new fruiting canes come from the plant crown and are not suckers. The suckers come up at a distance from the plants. The crown shoots all arise from the plant crowns.


Fertilize 10 to 14 days after planting with 2 ounces of 12-12-12 or a similar fertilizer. Keep the fertilizer 3 to 4 inches from the shoots and canes.

The second year fertilization can be increased to 4 to 5 pounds per 1000 square feet of bed area. From the 3rd year on the planting should be given 8 to 9 pounds per 1000 square feet.

After the last cultivation a cover crop may be sown. Any annual crop, such as oats or sudan grass, which dies during the winter may be used.


Raspberries use much water, especially when fruiting. They need about 1 inch of water per week and perhaps more during hot windy weather. A lack of water is a serious problem during the time from just before fruiting through the fruiting period. Watering is most critical from the time the fruit begin to show color until picking has been completed. A good water supply in late summer enhances cane vigor and enhances productivity in the following year. Water raspberries during the day.

Weed Control

Cultivation controls weeds but should not be deeper than 3 to 4 inches to avoid injuring raspberry roots. Begin cultivation soon after planting and then as often as needed to give good weed control. Cultivate until harvest then once or twice after harvest. Herbicides labeled for use on raspberries may also be used.


Red raspberries are pruned when dormant and after canes have fruited. The canes are biennial so a cane emerges and grows during one year then bears a crop of berries and dies the following year. The exception would be everbearers.

Remove canes that have fruited right after harvest. The early removal of these canes may help control pest problems and maximize the water and nutrients available to new canes.

Everbearers produce a crop during the late summer and fall of the same year. The same canes have a crop the following spring but it is not as large as the fall crop. The cane dies after the spring crop is harvested and can be removed. This gives growers an opportunity to do different types of pruning. If the large, fall crop is enough to satisfy family needs, the canes can be cut to the ground during the winter or early spring. This effectively eliminates the spring crop. It also eliminates doing both an after harvest and a dormant pruning. Only one pruning will be needed. If the second crop is wanted, prune off any winter killed cane tips during the dormant season. Remove canes completely when they have finished bearing the spring crop.

Other types of red raspberries need a dormant pruning to remove weak or damaged canes. In the linear or hill systems thin the canes to 6 to 8 per hill. In the hedgerow the canes should be spaced 8 inches apart. In the hill and linear systems shorten the canes to about 5 1/2 feet. In the hedgerow system shorten the canes to 4 feet. If the canes are shorter than these heights, take off only the portion that has been winter injured. Dormant pruning is done before the buds swell in the spring. If pruned too early, winter kill may reduce the height further. Dormant pruning reduces the number of suckers to keep the rows from becoming jungles.

Varieties The varieties listed may be expected to do well in Michigan.

Red Raspberry Everbearing Varieties Red Raspberries Yellow Raspberries Latham Heritage Fall Gold Taylor September Amber Canby Fall Red Golden Queen Hilton Sentry Newburgh

Go To Top of File               Main Page for this Data Base

Search Improvement Project