How To Grow Autumn Raspberries
15th November 2018
Enjoy a bountiful crop of autumn raspberries with our helpful advice!
Raspberries are one of the most popular soft fruits that can be grown in your garden or allotment. By planting autumn-fruiting varieties in addition to summer ones, you can begin cropping in July and continue to enjoy harvests all the way through to the first frost of the year. However, don’t confuse the summer crop with autumn-yielding types, as they require different pruning methods – keep them completely separate. The productive canes are easy to maintain and trim once they are established, making them a very worthwhile addition to your outdoor space. They are vigorous plants, and a two to three metre row of canes will provide you with a decent supply of delicious, juicy berries.
Types of Raspberry Plants
Raspberries can be grown either as bare-root plants or in containers. Bare-root forms are likely to be available only in autumn and winter and should be planted between November and March as long as the ground isn’t frozen. Container-grown specimens can be planted at any time of year, though this is preferable in November to December, or in March. Don’t attempt to place raspberries in pots during the hot, dry summer months. Each plant will be a single cane with its own root system, which features white buds where new shoots or ‘suckers’ will emerge. Always make sure that you purchase certified virus free examples.
Container-grown raspberries may not yield a large crop, so it is best to plant two or three canes in a single pot about 30cm in diameter. Support them against a fence, for example, and do not allow them to become waterlogged or dried out.
Many autumn-yielding varieties have yellow fruits, but some red berries can also be autumn-fruiting. Compared to summer raspberries, these types are shorter and can be grown without supports, though they do benefit from these. A support system can comprise of simple wooden posts and a single row of wires.
The two seasonal types grow in very different ways. Summer varieties fruit on last year’s canes, whilst autumn raspberries fruit on this year’s – both need very different pruning styles, and must therefore be kept completely separate to avoid any confusion.
Raspberries will thrive in a sheltered site away from strong winds to prevent canes from becoming damaged. Some shade will be tolerated, but the juicy berries will ripen best in full sun – this is particularly true for autumn-fruiting types. Your chosen site should not have grown raspberries for seven or more years – if it has then change the soil to a spade’s depth.
These crops need free-draining earth and plenty of water. Their roots will die if the ground becomes waterlogged, even for a short amount of time. Heavy soil will not help, so if this is your garden’s consistency, consider planting your raspberries in raised beds. They thrive in slightly acidic conditions with a pH of around 6.0-6.5. It is best to acidify your soil if it is alkaline with a pH higher of 7.5. If you have dry, sandy ground, add plenty of organic matter to retain moisture. Ensure that you water your crops regularly.
Dig the site at least a month before planting – make a trench about 45cm wide and 20-25cm deep. Weed the patch where you would like to place your raspberries, dig a trench and then add well-rotted compost or manure, and mix it with the earth. Spread the roots 8cm deep, firm the soil and cut off the top of each cane to a bud about 25cm above the earth. When shoots start to grow below the ground in spring, they will be stronger if the original cane is cut down to the same level as that of the earth.
Taking Care of your Crops
Water your raspberries regularly – once or twice a week in a dry summer, particularly when the berries start to swell. Don’t splash the canes as you may spread fungal diseases. Raspberries are also hungry plants, so top-dress the soil in March with a general fertiliser to boost nutrients. After feeding your crops, water the ground thoroughly and spread a 5-8cm thick mulch of organic matter around them, without allowing it to touch the canes. Autumn-fruiting types are at less risk of interference from birds and other pests compared to summer varieties, so you can grow them without netting. Once your raspberries have finished yielding, cut them down to the ground – the plants will grow from scratch all over again the next year.
Harvesting and Storing
Autumn-fruiting varieties begin to crop in August and continue until October or even the first frost of winter. If the berries do not come away from their ‘plugs’ easily, then they are not ready. Ripe raspberries will keep in the fridge for a few days, but if you are not going to eat them promptly, freeze them soon after you have picked the fruits. Never leave ripened berries as they will rot and stop new ones from reaching their full size. For every metre-section of canes, you can expect to yield 0.7-1.5kg of autumn raspberries.
‘Allgold’ – This is similar in growth habit to ‘Autumn Bliss’ but with sweeter, juicier berries. Sometimes confused with the very similar ‘Fallgold’. Harvest from mid-August to early October.
‘Autumn Bliss’ – The variety that launched the new generation of heavy cropping, autumn-fruiting raspberries. The large, firm berries are well flavoured. Harvest from mid-August to early October.
‘Joan J’ – Widely grown for its bumper crops of sweet, juicy fruit. Berries are larger than those of ‘Autumn Bliss’. Harvest from early August to early October.
‘Autumn Treasure’ – A modern English variety that produces large, conical berries of a bright red colour on sturdy, spine-free canes. With good pest and disease resistance, this variety crops a little later than ‘Autumn Bliss’. Harvest from late August to mid-September.
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