Raspberries

Preparation

The first thing to ensure is that you plant raspberries in fresh ground that has never grown raspberries or any Rubus plants before. The previous Rubus plants leave a dormant virus in the soil that becomes active as soon as fresh plants are put in the ground. This virus can lie dormant for up to 30 years, and so it is so important that fresh ground is found to plant fresh stock in. Failure to adhere to this advice will negate our guarantee. Raspberries should be grown in a sheltered spot – they grow best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade. Ensure that the soil they are being planted in is not too heavy – soil that holds a lot of water is no use as raspberries will die very quickly with their roots standing in wet, airless earth. If planting in clay soil, it is recommended to plant in a raised bed by forming a ridge. Dig a trench approx 18in (40cm) wide and 6in (15cm) deep. Line the bottom of the trench with fresh compost or well rotted manure. If using manure, also ensure it is well mixed in with the soil.

Planting

Plant 18in (45cm) apart in rows 6ft (2m) apart. Take each cane in turn and spread out the roots evenly, the old soil
mark (if visible) should be level with the surface. Make sure the cane are not planted any deeper than 4in (10cm), we recommend 3in (7.5cm) as an optimum depth. Replace the soil by gently treading it back in and it is a good idea to apply a general purpose fertiliser mixed in with the soil at this time, ensuring the cane get the best possible start.
Summer fruiting varieties will need to be supported, and the best method to use is the post-and-wire system where the cane are tied to the wires with soft twine. To set this up the posts should be 10ft (3m) apart. It is best to use 8ft tall, 3in x 3in posts. The end posts must be fixed securely in the ground – ensure this by burying 2ft (61cm) in the ground and supporting with an angled strut. The three wire supports should be placed at 2.5ft (76cm), 3.5ft (1m) & 5.5ft (1.6m) from ground level.

Pruning

For newly planted raspberries: cut down the old cane to near ground level when the new growth appears in Spring.
For established summer fruiting varieties: as soon as picking is over, cut down all the cane that have fruited to near ground level and retain the best 6-9 young unfruited canes and tie to wires 3-4in (7.5-10cm) apart. For established autumn fruiting (primocane) varieties:- cut down all cane to ground level in February. As the new cane grow in the spring/summer, tie them to the wires with soft twine.

Ongoing Care

It is imperative that especially during the first year when they are establishing themselves, the raspberries have plenty of water, therefore during dry periods, regular watering will be necessary. It is particularly important to keep the soil damp when the fruit is swelling. Regular hoeing is important to keep weeds down – ensure the hoe does not go too deep to avoid damaging the roots. Suckers need to be removed in summer, and stems growing away from
the main row should be pulled out. Water in a general purpose fertiliser i.e. Growmore, to the rows in March. Once this is done, apply a mulch such as well-rotted manure or compost. This will help keep the soil cool & moist as well as keep down the weeds.

Recap/Checklist

DO…

  • Plant in free draining soil or on a ridge if your soil is
    heavy.
  • Water in dry period after planting.

DON’T…

  • Plant in soils that have grown raspberries or Rubus
    plants before.
  • Plant in heavy wet soils.
  • Plant too deep—a maximum of 4 inches is acceptable, we would recommend 3 inches.

One final note

Raspberries are very different from other fruit plants and require extra care and patience when first planted. A common mistake is to assume that the old cane that is planted in the ground should produce shoots/leaves—these sometimes do appear but they are fruiting laterals and should be removed when they appear, as they hinder the overall establishment of the cane. The old cane you have planted is in fact gradually dying as it produces it’s fresh
shoots underground, and therefore is no guaranteed indicator of life. The fresh growth to look for in raspberries comes up through the soil from the base of the old cane – please note that newly planted raspberries can take well into June to produce these.

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